In 1913 the Rev. W. Jordan was appointed by the late Bishop John Hurst to build a second connectional AME church in Orlando, Fl. The initial building, located in an undeveloped area of south Orlando went through several early phases and through tireless effort and unwavering faith Rev. Jordan held the first services at Saint Mark AME Church on Easter Sunday in April 1915. Through many spirited filled revivals and under great leadership Saint Mark continued a trend of steady growth in membership and expansion of its facilities.
Growth and Expansion
1969 – 1982
Under the leadership of the late Rev. G.L. Champion, the church took on new life. Due to the never ending progress of the city of Orlando a new expressway resulted in the loss of the church site on the corner of Conley and Avondale Street. The Orange County School Board was kind enough to extend the use of Carver Junior High School for one and one-half years, until the present sanctuary was completed, which is located on the corner of Covington Street and Bruton Boulevard. In addition to the new Worship Center’s completion in January of 1974 and an “Annex” to the sanctuary equipped with cafeteria, office area and meeting rooms was added shortly after. The new larger facility was able to support a much larger congregation which positioned Saint Mark for continued growth through the coming decades.
1982 – 1988
Dr. Leroy Kennon, currently the Presiding Elder of the Orlando District and President of the Eleventh Episcopal District Presiding Elder’s Council as well as one of the leading Presiding Elders in African Methodism, pastored St. Mark from November 1982 to 1988. Presiding Elder Kennon set St. Mark on the road to understanding God’s stewardship plan for the Church. In addition, he saw the need to upgrade the physical plant of St. Mark and so directed the building of a much needed parking area, to accommodate the needs of the growing congregation.
Pillar of our Community
1988 – 2004
Rev. Samuel L. Green, Sr., currently the Presiding Prelate of the 15th Episcopal District, began his ministry at Saint Mark in late 1988 and continued to provide the leadership necessary for excellence in ministry through the mid-2000s. Under Bishop Green’s leadership, Saint Mark’s membership grew vastly. The ministry represented a vision of understanding the importance of providing for the total needs of the community in which it serves. With the mission of improving the spiritual, social and economic needs of our constituents and community, a plan was created to add various ministries and facilities within which to carry them out. In 1990, the Church purchased a small strip mall adjacent to the church named, The Martin Luther King Center, which has allowed minority participation in small business within our community. Bishop Green and the membership also saw the need for quality and affordable childcare within the community. In 1992 the development of the Saint Mark Children’s Enrichment Center, a 3680 square foot childcare and educational facility for youth ages two to five years of old was established.
Recognizing the challenges families face Bishop Green envisioned a facility that could offer quality education in a Christian environment. That vision became a reality in 1996 with the building of the 18,600 square feet Saint Mark Family Life Center. Bishop Green oversaw construction of Saint Mark’s Family Center, a multi-purpose facility that houses the church’s administrative offices, a complete food-service Center and a gymnasium. The Family Life Center also houses the Saint Mark Preparatory School, a learning institution for students pre-kindergarten through the 8th grade. The Center has become a place where families and others have come for spiritual development, receptions, seminars,workshops, concerts, plays, sports and no doubt will host many other activities into the next millennium.
2004 – Present
Rev. Terence R. Gray, I was called by God and appointed by Bishop McKinley Young during the month of November 2004 to serve as Senior Pastor of Saint Mark AME Church in Orlando, Florida.
Thus far under Pastor Gray’s tenure at Saint Mark he has been extremely impactful. The revamping of our Educational Enterprises has richly increased the quality of our educational program. With the introduction of the Infant Toddler Unit and the reduction of our Alpha Learning Center’s grade level to 5th has assisted in our focus areas and propelled our student’s learning experience to an average 2 grade levels above the National Average in Math and Reading. Saint Mark has increased our Worship Services by expanding to include an East Campus location and renewed our Youth Church every Sunday. Currently under the leadership of Pastor Terence Renard Gray, I the church has continued to grow its membership and a renovation project is underway. Due to the continued growth, Pastor Gray has a vision of opening an additional Worship Center and Children Enrichment Center in the Metro Orlando area. Pastor is a talented and gifted leader, who through his love for Christ will continue to lead Saint Mark towards its mission of Building Families for Christ.