TIFTON – Tifton First Church of the Nazarene will celebrate its 70th anniversary Nov. 15 at 10:30 a.m. Former pastor Tom Rash will be the guest speaker. The community is invited to take part in this great day of celebration at 3024 Tift Avenue.
Led by the Rev. Aubrey Ponce, a few people gathered to glorify the Lord in a small building on South Ridge Avenue on a brisk morning in January 1945. With an uplifted spirit and the guiding hand of the Lord, the First Church of the Nazarene was officially organized with seven charter members. Ponce led the small congregation until the fall of 1945, leaving his desires and efforts in the hands of a new pastor and a growing congregation. The church began to minister to the spiritual needs of the community.
The growth of the early 50s brought about the planning and construction of the beautiful brick sanctuary on South Ridge Avenue. A much-needed educational building was dedicated in 1965 plus a new parsonage was completed in 1967. The excited members reached new heights: membership was growing; the youth choir became a very meaningful part of the church services; and, most important, new spiritual strengths were being gained.
In 1976, land was purchased on Tift Avenue, and dreams for a new church home began to develop. The reality of these dreams came in 1985 when people let their faith lead them into reverse tithing for one week, giving 90 percent to the Lord and keeping 10 percent for themselves. To the glory of God, the faith offering received was tremendous! Indebtedness on all existing church property was paid in full.
With the sale of the parsonage in the early 1986 and building plans in place, the construction of the Tift Avenue worship center began. The sale of the sanctuary and educational building on South Ridge Avenue later in the year made possible the completion of the new church much earlier than anticipated. “If you can imagine it, with God’s help you can achieve it,” became the church motto. Many months of work, prayer and self-sacrifice by dedicated members and friends brought a joyous day of celebration with the dedication of the new facility on Feb. 8, 1987.
The first phase of construction on the family life center began later the same year. In 1989 the facility was dedicated in honor of the Rev. Elmer Carter who served the congregation as pastor two terms for a total of 20 years. It was his vision that led the church through spiritual and numerical growth as well as relocating to Tift Avenue. Today the Rev. Elmer Carter Family Life Center houses the social hall, a full gymnasium and multi-purpose rooms.
Tifton First Church of the Nazarene is a mission-minded church commissioning men and women to serve the Lord in their respective callings. Ten pastors, eight pastors’ wives and two working in foreign missions have been birthed from this congregation. In addition, two new churches were organized from this body of believers. The Rev. Ike Branch is the current pastor and was one of those who left Tifton to pastor other congregations 20 years ago and returned to serve as senior pastor in August of 2014.
Being a multi-cultural congregation, the church still carries on its desire to reach across barriers and minister to all people. The church’s purpose is to bring people into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and to nurture them in that relationship through evangelism, worship, education, fellowship and service. The congregation enjoys blended worship using both contemporary and traditional music. Those who are seeking a church home are invited to join them in worship on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. and Wednesdays at 7 p.m.