The year 1958 was an historic year in the life and ministry of the Church of the Open Door. This was the year that a determined Marie Faulkner Brown, daughter of Dr. William Faulkner, eminent Congregational minister and the late Elizabeth A. Bell kept a “Devine Appointment” of intent. Marie and other transplanted Congregationalists soon became a Fellowship nucleus. They were encouraged and supported by our local and state denominational leaders.
The late Dr. Kelsey L. Pharr, Sr. hosted the first public worship service of 11 people on May 4, 1958. Three months later with an increase of 30 persons, the group moved to the auditorium of the Bethany Junior Academy for Sunday services. With denominational assistance, Dr. Charles Wick served as interim minister.
In mid-June, 1959, Dr. Henry C. McDowell and his wife, Ruth came out of retirement to accept the call of chartering a course in Miami. His impressive vitae included a 40 year tenure of missionary experience in Angola, Africa pastoral service, and education here in the States.
An immediate membership goal was initiated which resulted in 75 plus charter members. Now duly established and constituted the church selected its name as, Church of the Open Door- based on scripture: Revelations 3:8 ” and behold, I have set before you an OPEN DOOR, which no one is able to shut”. Its Act of Incorporation was executed and recorded on September 28, 1959. The Southeast Coast Association of Congregational Christian Churches accepted us into membership on November 13th.