FRIENDSHIP CHURCH OF THE NAZARENE
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2017
Memphis Friendship COTN celebrated Founder’s Day on Sunday, February 19, 2017; with a special morning service led by Rev. Charles Tillman, COTN Black Ministries Facilitator, followed by a dinner at the Neighborhood Christian Center. Approximately seventy-five persons were present at this event. This service was held sixty-three years after the church was organized on February 7, 1954. The church organized with 4 members: Arthur and Ora Mae Jackson, Juanita Atkins and Mary Blakely, Ora’s sister and mother, respectively.
Ora Mae Jackson came to know Christ as her Savior through the witness of Franny Martin, a member of a Memphis First Church of the Nazarene. This was during another era, when segregation was the norm. Ora conveyed to Franny the need for a church where Blacks could attend and worship God. Franny eventually wrote a letter to the Tennessee District Superintendent and Advisory Board concerning this need. As a result of her efforts, Friendship COTN was launched in the Jackson’s home shortly thereafter.
In its 63 years of existence, Friendship Church has seen its share of up’s and down’s. For a brief period of time, in 1973, the church had to close its doors. With Arthur Jackson and Mary Blakely now passed on, Ora and Juanita continued to pay their tithes, believing that God would somehow make a way for the church to continue. Because of their tenacious faith, the church was able to reopen its doors and eventually call a new pastor. The church has been going on ever since. The church is one of the oldest Black Nazarene congregations in the USA.
In June 2013, Rev. Ron and Tonya Allen began their tenure as Pastor and First Lady of this historic congregation. Friendship is now one of several Black Nazarene churches in the Memphis area and has a membership of 123. The church has come a long ways from their first location in the Jackson’s home, located on Ball Road, to the current facility at 775 North Parkway, built in 1985 and recently remodeled. Due to recent health challenges, Ora Jackson and Juanita Atkins, now 97 and 87 years of age, were unable to attend the 2017 Founder’s Day services, held in their honor. However, these visionary and courageous women continue to be active prayer warriors for the church and attend as their heath allows.
Charles A. Tillman, Sr.
Black Ministries Facilitator