In the early 1980s, Elder Thomas Faison, Jr. ( photo on the left) was lead of the Holy Spirit to go to Bartow to do the will of the Lord. At that time Elder Faison was pastoring at Plant City Church of God by Faith. Years past and Elder Faison pastored at other COGBF churches, yet ‘the call’ was still on his mind. One day, Elder Faison recalls the Lord speaking to him, ” I can call you home any time now, what are you going to say about Bartow, FL?” He told District Supt. Albert Landers he had to leave Polk City and follow his call to Bartow.
April 2004, house to house prayer service was started. Elder Faison remembered reading the words of one of COGBF’s founding fathers, Evangelist N. Scippio, in his Handbook for the Christian and Non-Christian saying to the ministers, do not make the mistake I made, find a building for the saints to worship in. He began searching Bartow for a building to have worship service. One day Supt. Landers and Elder Faison was riding around in Bartow. As they passed 915 W. Polk Street, there was a “for rent” sign out front. Supt. Landers said,” This looks like the place you need to get started.” This site was rented. (See photo on the left)
July 2004 the group began having services at 915 W. Polk Street. Bartow was officially dedicated as a Mission in May 2007. In the same year, Min. Gary Hird and family joined the congregation. The Hirds were led of God to come to Bartow and assist Elder Faison in pastoring. This was a blessing because Elder Faison was serving as pastor for Bartow and Polk City.
Bartow, the Church
In December 2008 Bartow was officially recognized as a church. Guided by the spirit, the group began looking for a site to build a church. However, a convenience store located at 1110 S. Golfview Avenue, Bartow, FL was chosen as the new home for Bartow Church of God by Faith.
After conferring with the property owner, Tampa Westcoast District made the initial down payment December 2009. During the many months between the property being purchased and beginning the construction, the members (a dedicated group with a goal in mind) completed some of the demolition. In October 2011 the project contractor was hired to renovate the 'store' into a sanctuary.
The first service at the new location, 1110 S. Golfview Avenue, was held on Easter Sunday (April 8), 2012. October 6, 2012 the church was dedicated.
Bartow’s pastors ..
Elder Thomas Faison, Jr. – First pastor of Bartow Church of God by Faith, served til December 2014
Min. Gary Hird – co-pastor 2007-2008
Elder Joe Powell – worked with Elder Faison in 2014; officially named pastor December 2014