Our History

Notre Histoire

Following several successful and unforgettable missionary tours in the Caribbean and in the main cities of Florida, Reverend Pastor Abednego Jonassaint was guided by the Lord to open a church in Collier County, specifically in picturesque Naples. The First Haitian Baptist Church of Naples was founded September 25, 1983 in a private residence with only the participation of thirteen believers. These thirteen believers along with the pastor worked tirelessly to foster the growth of the congregation and spread God’s word. Pastor Jonassaint who lived with his family in Miami then chose Deacon Louverture Julsaint as the main pastor in his absence.

During the first months of its existence First Haitian Baptist Church of Naples known then as First Haitian Baptist Mission faced many obstacles. The church had no home. Services and special events were scattered throughout town. For thirteen years they bounced around from two public schools, a private residence belonging to a member of the congregation, and even an abandoned space that was previously intended for the storage of vehicles under repair. Criticized and humiliated by some for their constant relocation, the first members of the congregation suffered morally and financially.

August 3, 1997 marked a miraculous and joyous day for the congregation. First Haitian Baptist finally relocated to a church of their own. This new building was well structured and had ample room to accommodate various worship services and special meetings. The new church not only served its members, but also the East Naples community and its surrounding areas. It was regrettable that the servant Abednego Jonassaint, Pastor-Founder, did not have the chance to participate in the inauguration. Pastor Jonassaint passed March 26, 1996. After his death, Reverend Pierre Louis Merone and Pastor Fatera Dorestan shared responsibility of guiding the congregation. In 2009, First Haitian Baptist continued to grow and uplift led solely by Rev. Pierre Louis Merone.

To continue the work of the Lord, Pastor Merone and the Executive Committee appealed to Rev. Vens Leandre to accomplish the task of Assistant Pastor in September 2010. This pleased the congregation as well as a pillar in the community Sister Gisèle Jonassaint, wife of late Pastor Abednego Jonassaint. She passed soon after.

When the 500 hundred members not counting youth and children recall how the church began with just thirteen believers, they are amazed and thankful. First Haitian Baptist Church of Naples will celebrate its 33th anniversary in September 2013. They glorify God by believing anything is possible and hope that the years to come are filled with blessings.