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Who We Are 
Sunlight Missionary Baptist Church

Our History

The history of the Sunlight Missionary Baptist Church is one of faith in God and perseverance.  Prior to organizing as a church, weekly prayer meetings were held at the home of Mr. Will Morgan.  The church was originally named the First Missionary Baptist Church of Escambia County, Goulding, Florida and later became the Sunlight Missionary Baptist Church in the year 1912.


The first pastor of the Sunlight Missionary Baptist Church was Rev. A. W. Williams.  Throughout the years, many Spirit-filled pastors were called to serve; over the years Sunlight Missionary Baptist Church has trained and nurtured other men and women who have received special callings to serve the Lord and we are profoundly grateful for their service to our church, congregation, and the community.


In the early 1930’s, a tornado destroyed the church’s building, located on North Haynes Street, and the congregation worshiped with St. John Divine Missionary Baptist Church until the church building was re-built.  Then, in 1962, a ground-breaking service was held for a new church building to be located at 1919 North Davis Street.  On the third Sunday of January 1964, then pastor, Rev. W. R. Blevins led the congregation in a celebratory march from North Haynes Street to the new church location.


During the church’s 64th year Anniversary observance, in October 1976, a noteworthy ‘mortgage burning’ ceremony and memorial service, to recognize those members who had passed on, was held to celebrate a beautiful debt-free sanctuary and fellowship hall.


Sunlight continued to be blessed and filled with men, women, and children, dedicated to serving the Lord.  Then, in September 2004, Hurricane Ivan came upon the shores of the Gulf Coast causing massive destruction in Pensacola.  While the church building was not destroyed, it incurred substantial damage.  Worship services were held at the First West Florida Baptist Center until repairs and renovations were completed.


On October 21, 2012, we observed a major milestone, 100 years of existence, and we continue to celebrate a century plus of souls saved, and generations of individuals and families serving the Lord, God’s people, and the community.


Following a period of prayer and discernment, God sent to us an anointed servant leader, Rev. Kevin F. Simmons.  Rev. Simmons was ordained, and then installed as Pastor of Sunlight Missionary Baptist Church on Sunday, September 17, 2017.  Through the leadership of Pastor Simmons, the church is continuing to articulate a clear identity as a people dedicated to following Jesus, who live to do Christ’s mission.  We, at Sunlight, are excited about what God is doing through Pastor Simmons for us and The Kingdom.

The Sunlight Missionary Baptist Church, as it is now, is the result of the love, dedication, loyalty, and endurance of hundreds of believers of the last several generations.  At present, we have families who represent generations of active membership.  From the few members in 1912, we have grown in membership and stature.  We are over 108 years old and during the past 108 plus years, we have grown spiritually, in numbers, and in size under the leadership of our many pastors, ministers, and leaders.  What began as weekly prayer meetings out of the home of a faithful servant of God, has become a ministry serving not only the Pensacola community, but reaching out to the far ends of the world.  As the church continues to grow and make history, we remain hopeful for the future, where we learn from our history and continue following God on this journey of discipleship.


God has used many people, places, and events, throughout our church’s history to help us get where we are today.  We are thankful for His grace and faithfulness over many years and look forward to how He will use our church in the future.  We thank you, Lord for drawing us, as a congregation, to You to become part of Your Church.  Thank You for our ancestors and those who listened to Your voice and were obedient to Your call to organize this congregation for Your purpose.  We give God all the glory, honor, and praise.

The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.  Psalm 126:3

Pastor Kevin F. Simmons

Reverend Kevin Simmons was born in Pensacola, Florida in the early 1960s,during the Civil Rights Movement. He is the 11th of 12 children, and the 4th son of Rev. Willie and Mrs. Millie Simmons. He accepted Christ at an early age at New Galilee Baptist Church under the ministry of his uncle, Pastor Calvin Simmons, Sr. He grew up in rural Chumuckla, FL and urban Pensacola, FL.


Rev. Simmons graduated from Pensacola High School (Go Tigers!!) and joined the United States Navy. He served on active duty in the Submarine Force for 10 years; then transitioned to the Navy Reserves. Rev. Simmons retired after 28+ years as a Chief Petty Officer in the United States Navy. He is thankful to God for that opportunity to serve; he has also served as a member and as Chairman of the Citizen’s Police Advisory Committee for the City of Pensacola.


While on active duty Rev. Simmons continued his education, and received an Associate’s degree from Georgia Military College and a Bachelor’s degree from, what is now known as, Valdosta State University.


Rev. Simmons was (and is) a member of the Saint John the Divine Missionary Baptist Church. After his call to preach, the Lord gave him some time for sanctification and reflection, while being recalled to the active duty Navy after the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center.


Brother Simmons preached his initial (public) sermon and was licensed to preach at St. John Divine Baptist Church on September 19, 2004 under the leadership of Pastor Richard L. Hines, Jr., three days after Hurricane Ivan hit and crippled the Gulf Coast area.


Under the mentoring and guidance of Pastor Hines, Minister Simmons has worked in various ministries. He received an Associate’s Degree in Christian Education and Master’s Degree in English Bible at the West Florida Baptist Institute, a small private college/seminary where he currently serves as the Registrar and a Student-Instructor.


Reverend Simmons served as an Associate Minister at St. John Divine Baptist Church under the leadership of Dr. Joseph Marshall and assisted in the ministry at Sunlight Baptist Church under the leadership of Pastor J. L. Savage. He was ordained at Saint John Divine Baptist Church by Pastor Marshall and was called to succeed Pastor Savage in August 2017. He is also a member of the Pensacola NAACP and the Pensacola area Baptist Minister’s Union.

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