In 1989, God spoke to Pastor K. A. Tenah and said that there was a seed in Jacksonville, FL. In March 1989, the Lord opened a door for bible study and prayer in the home of Brother Willie Ross, Sr. at 1751 E. 26th Street. Bible study and prayer continued there for one year and nine months. Then, in July 1990, the saints began to search for a building to conduct services in and one was found at 5045 Soutel Drive, Suite #110. The members were few in number, but they held onto the faith and the Lord began to add to the church.
Pastor Tenah continued to preside over the church until December 1990. During the winter campmeeting of 1990, Minister Sherman Maddie, Sr. was appointed pastor of Evangelistic Pentecostal Church at Jacksonville. In January 1991, Pastor Maddie was officially installed as the pastor. The Lord began to add to the church under Pastor Maddie’s administration, to wit: Sister Patricia Howard and (Smith) family, Brother Walter Jordan, Sr. and family, Brother Mark Howard, Sr. and family, Sister Betty Borom and family, Sister Leatha Tommie and family, Brother Calvin Howard, Sr., Brother Wayne Townsend, and Sister Arlene Wilcox and family. From these, the Lord began to establish the work of the ministry. Many revivals were conducted; God gave many promises and many messages that He would build the house, giving Pastor Maddie a promise in the scripture:
“A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.
They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.”
Psalms 22:30, 31
In 1997, the church hosted the International Youth Congress, wherein we saw a great move of God in the lives of our children. In the latter part of 1997, the church relocated and shared a building with Elder Finney Pouncey and the saints at Prayer House EPC in Marietta, FL. We remained there for three years.
In January 2000, we were blessed to relocate to 531 S. Mc Duff Avenue, Suite #102. The Lord again continued to add to the church, namely: Sister Brenda Daniels and family, Brother Issac Chapman, III and family, Brother Ishmael Rouse, among many others.
In April 2004, we hosted a very successful International Women’s Conference. Fundraisers wee conducted for the purpose of obtaining our own land and building. The church was blessed to raise over $50,000 towards this goal through real estate investments. In November 2004, Bishop K.A. Tenah called Pastor Maddie and said the Lord had shown him a building for us in the Jacksonville area and that we should aggressively look for it.
In the October 2005 Nassau Bahamas Crusade and World Missions Outreach, Chief Apostle S.D. James gave Pastor Maddie the name of our church:
“Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken;
neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate:
but thou shalt be called HEPHZIBAH, and thy land Beulah:
for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.”
In March 2006, Hephzibah EPC hosted its first World Missions Outreach in Jacksonville, FL and surrounding cities. In that same month, we tendered an earnest money deposit on this building in order to secure the right to purchase it. We were informed at that time that another church was interested in purchasing the property; we were later told that they had received the right to purchase the property. However, during a revival in Portal, GA, Prophet James said the Lord had shown him the building and its surrounding land, and that the Lord said it was ours! Pastor Maddie, with the assistance of Bishop Tenah, went forward in faith and secured financing on the property and by the next week the financing was approved. Then we learned that we were in fact outbid on the property. Nevertheless, over the next two months, we held onto word of the prophet. In June 2006, prior to Summer Campmeeting, the owners approached us about purchasing the building; the other bidder’s financing had fallen through.
After much negotiations, on the 8th day of the 8th month in 2006 (August 8, 2006), we closed on the property at 3706 Turton Avenue, which is situated on 3.5 acres of land. The building is 3900 sq. ft. and includes a fellowship hall. On August 13, 2006, we held our first service in the fellowship hall. On June 3, 2007, we moved into the sanctuary and conducted our first worship service, and the Lord continued to add to the church. We then began to spread our borders with outreach in Valdosta, Waycross, and Brunswick, Georgia, and we have fellowshipped with many churches in the South Georgia area since we have moved into this sanctuary. On March 1, 2008, our church dedicatory service was held. In the 2009 International Winter Campmeeting, Minister Mark Howard was ordained and thereafter he and his family branched out to begin Way of the Cross Prayer Mission in Waycross, Georgia.
On February 27, 2015, after over 24 years of faithful service as pastor at Hephzibah EPC, Pastor Sherman F. Maddie, Sr. was called by the Lord into full-time evangelism. On March 1, 2015, Minister Stephen A. Smith was appointed interim pastor by Senior Bishop Dr. S.D. James. Subsequently, on June 21, 2015, Minister Smith was ordained and received official appointment as pastor of Hephzibah EPC at the 2015 International Summer Campmeeting.
Hephzibah EPC is a community church with a vision to raise up a prophetic people committed to declaring the gospel of the kingdom and demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ through family empowerment and community uplift. Our mission is to Love God, Love People, Leading Families to Transformed Lives in Christ. Thus, our motto is “Winning souls to Christ with LOVE.”