Pastor James E. McKnight, Jr & First Lady Delois McKnight
Starke Church of God by Faith was birthed out of the Church of God by Faith in Gainesville as the Lord led Pastor James McKnight Jr. and his family to Starke. He founded the church and held its first service on March 13th, 1987 in a small rented building on Market Road.
After its first six months, the church was relocated to an abandoned storefront building at 721 Old Lawtey Road; passionately known as the “possum house.” There the church remained faithful despite its many challenges, including a number of burglaries, pestilences and inadequate facilities. During this period, the Lord added just a few souls to the church. However, Pastor McKnight and the small congregation kept reaching beyond their walls, knocking on doors and sharing the Gospel.
With 13 members the church purchased property and erected a new sanctuary at 730 Old Lawtey Road, which was dedicated in March 1994. The church currently worships at this location where its membership has grown tremendously.
In August of 2004, Starke C.O.G.B.F opened a downtown office to facilitate Bradford County Faith Community Center (BCFCC), which is a faith-based organization under the umbrella of the church. This organization serves the citizenry of North Central Florida providing many essential services and programs including: HIV testing and counseling, neighborhood accountability board and more.
In the fall of 2005 the church purchased the “possum house” and several adjacent lots. This old building was transformed into a 5,000 square foot, state-of-the-art community youth center that includes multi-purpose rooms, a game room, several classrooms, a computer lab and much more. The center was dedicated on January 27th, 2007.
In January of the same year, the church purchased an additional 14 acres adjacent to its present location which it plans to develop. The new campus will include an innovative worship center, educational space, children and youth complex, counseling center, administrative wing, book store and recreation area.
God’s hand is certainly upon Starke Church of God by Faith and it remains committed to fulfilling the great commission of reaching people and developing lives.