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FIRST CHRISTIAN CHURCH

LOCATION

350 Hyde Park Ave. 253-0811.

SERVICES

Sunday: 9:45 a.m. Sunday School, 10:45 a.m. worship service. Dinner and Bible study Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.

HISTORY

The church was organized in 1900 by Dr. S.D. Colyer. The cornerstone of the present site was laid in 1926. During the economic difficulties of the 1930s, the congregation faced financial problems and the property was almost lost by foreclosure. Several churches have been started by the First Christian Church, including North Side Christian Church (1928), Peninsular Christian Church (1953), University Christian Church (1957), Brandon Christian Church (1966) and Primera Iglesia Cristiana de Tampa (1992).

LEADERSHIP

Dr. James Hilton has been pastor for five years. He earned his bachelor's degree from Butler University in Indiana, a master's of divinity from Christian Theological Seminary in Indiana and his doctor of ministry at the Graduate School of Theology at Emery University in Atlanta. He and his wife, Carolyn, have been married 35 years and have two children, Mark, 23, and Holly, 31. They also have two grandchildren, Hayley, 2, and Andrew, 1. His wife is a special education prekindergarten teacher in Hillsborough County.

RECENT THEME

"The Gospel in F. Gump _ ways in which we could see Christian lessons in the simple pure faith of Forrest Gump."

The church has 1,047 members, not including young children. MEMBERSHIP

Two-thirds of the new members are under age 40.

PROGRAMS

Extensive music program, youth programs, adult Bible classes, women's groups and men's group. The men's group meets every other month with Beaulah Baptist Men's group to work together on improving race relations. Recently the two groups worked on a Habitat for Humanity project.

OUTREACH

Members work with Metropolitan Ministries and Divine Providence Food Bank. They also participate in the Church Women United Clothes Closet. The church is the site for the annual Crop Walk to raise money for food.

NOTABLE

The church has an extensive musical heritage. The women of the church sold homemade bonnets early in the century to raise money to pay for the installation of the church Midmer-Losh pipe organ. In 1964, the congregation received the first set of hand bells owned by a Tampa church. Director Lynne Guernsey Marks has been ringing bells for 30 years.

_ Text compiled by MICHELLE JONES of the Times staff

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