Richard D. Meadows, Jr. elected to be the next Rector of The Episcopal Church of Saint John the Baptist, Orlando Florida.
To be a Church that loves and cares for people and that has a passion to make Christ known by serving and glorifying Him in the community in which He has called us to service. ONE HUNDRED SIXTEEN YEARS OF FAITHFULNESS …FOR I KNOW THE PLANS I HAVE FOR YOU, "DECLARES THE LORD,“ PLANS TO PROSPER YOU AND NOT TO HARM YOU, PLANS TO GIVE YOU HOPE AND A FUTURE...” Jeremiah 29:11
On April 18, 1896, three years and two months after the organizing of the newly formed Missionary Jurisdiction of Southern Florida, The Episcopal Church of Saint John the Baptist, Orlando, Florida was established. It was located in a four room frame house from which the partitions were removed, at the northeast corner of Terry and Pine Streets.
Soon after the establishment of the church, a school was built on the adjoining property. St. Augustine College, the Episcopal college located in Raleigh, North Carolina provided most of the teachers in this one room school. The school was discontinued around 1925.
Some time after the school was built a church building was moved to the site from Lake Mary, Florida. A few years later a rectory was built. A tennis court was included on its grounds. This was the first tennis court in Orlando for use by the Black population. A portion of the first floor of the rectory also housed the Booker T. Washington Branch (for persons of color) of the Public Library.
In 1955 The Reverend John Fred Dickman, Ed.D. became the first full time priest for St. John the Baptist. Father Nelson W. Pinder, D.D. was assigned to St. John’s by Bishop Louttit May 30, 1959. Father Pinder was St. John's second full time priest and the first full time priest of color. Father Pinder had just completed seminary and was ordained as priest at St. John the Baptist. During Father Pinder’s leadership between 1959 and 1962 the Atlanta Life Insurance Building near the church's property was purchased. In 1962 a church study indicated that the population was shifting to the Washington Shores area and that few persons walked pass the church on Sunday mornings. It was 1963 that the church relocated to its present site at 1000 Bethune Drive. In 1967 the parish hall and education building was added.
In 1972 Bishop Folwell assigned Father Pinder to St. John and he served faithfully until his retirement December 31, 1995. During the year of 1978, the vestry under the leadership of Father Pinder set a goal to attain Parish status. From the church's inception until this time the church had mission status(was partly supported by the diocese). On June 23, 1985 a grand Parish Status Celebration was held.
Upon the retirement of Reverend Pinder, Father Richard Bowman served as the regular supply priest for our church. He served the church diligently, performing all of the sacraments that were needed. At the end of the year, the search committee chaired by Dr. Lorraine K. Harris reported its findings to the Vestry and Reverend Raulston B. Nembhard of Manderville, Jamaica was called as the fourth full time minister church and to the community. Since the departure of Raulston Nembhard, Father Nelson Pinder has served untill the search committee chaired by Dr. Lorraine K. Harris submitted to the Vestry the name of Richard D. Meadows, Jr. as next Rector.
The Episcopal Church of Saint John the Baptist, from a humble beginning, enjoys a rich and illustrious history. We are proud to be one of the oldest congregations in the Central Florida Diocese, established just three years after Bishop Gray began his fervent mission of proclaiming the word of God across the Missionary Jurisdiction of Southern Florida. We continue our journey keenly aware of God's promise through the Prophet Jeremiah:
"In those days when you pray, I will listen. You will find me, if you look for me in earnest." GOD IS FAITHFUL TO HIS PROMISE. We continue to strive to be faithful to our promise: "To follow Christ; to come together week by week for corporate worship; and to work, pray and give for the spread of the kingdom of GOD.