In October, 2007, a small group of Believers began meeting together on Wednesday evenings in the home of Pastor Keith and Tanya Thrash for Bible study and prayer, but the first official gathering as Freedom River Church took place on the banks of the Big Biloxi River on Sunday, October 21st, when fourteen men, women, and children were baptized!
Our first Sunday worship service took place on October 28th, at Pass Road Elementary School in Gulfport, Mississippi, where we worshiped together every week for almost 9 months. Cinemark Theater at Crossroads Shopping Center in Gulfport became our Sunday worship spot for the next year, and then a banquet hall at Bell Southern Events became our home for the year following that. We eventually adopted the phrase: “We’re a great church if you can find us!” 🙂 Thankfully, many DID find us and stayed to be a part of what God was doing.
A lot was required from our church family during these days. Every Sunday morning, a team of volunteers would unload a 14′ trailer filled to capacity with sound equipment, musical instruments, and children’s supplies; set up tables or chairs or BOTH; and then re-load every bit of it! Half of it would come out again mid-week for band practice, and then go right back in, only for it to be unloaded once more on Sunday. Members continued to provide a place for other meetings to be held during the week, opening their businesses and homes for Wednesday Bible Study, Youth group meetings, children’s events, and other small group gatherings. It was many years of hard work and sacrifice, but it was worth every minute! God blessed, and Freedom River grew.
In June, 2010, our church acquired a lease on a double suite at Norwood Village Shopping Center in Gulfport. Again, members volunteered and worked together – THIS time toward reconstruction of our first official home. It was just a little over a year before we needed an additional suite for our children’s and youth ministries; and, once again, through the hard work and sacrifice of our members, a space was transformed to reflect who we are and what we believe is important.
Norwood Village Shopping Center continues to be our home, but we look forward to the day we can purchase our own land and build a place we can call our own. Until then, we will gather and worship the One for whom all things are possible, knowing that wherever we gather, our destiny is in His hands.
“For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.” Jeremiah 29:11