HE PLANTED A CHURCH: Pastor Bill Monroe began Florence Baptist Temple in 1969
FLORENCE, S.C. – It’s hard to conceive that the Florence Baptist Temple was almost built somewhere else.
The church’s founder and pastor, Bill Monroe, says he was working as a business manager of a church in Indianapolis when he heeded the call to enter the ministry.
“I felt the calling since I was a child,” Monroe said. “But I didn’t do anything about it. I majored in business at [the University of South] Carolina.”
Monroe was looking for a place to start a church in the eastern part of the Carolinas.
Monroe said Florence appealed to him because one of his dear friends from growing up in Sumter played the guitar and he knew the fledgling church would have music because the friend agreed to help him. Monroe added that he was 15 years old when he moved from Hinton, West Virginia, to Sumter where he attended Evans, now called Sumter, High School with that friend.
Monroe planted the church in 1969 after attending then-Columbia Bible College (now called Columbia International University) and Appalachian Bible College just outside of Beckley, West Virginia.
The first Sunday the church was opened, 18 people worshiped there. Now, Monroe, said the church averages 1,200 to 1,500 people each Sunday with Easter and other major holidays drawing 2,500. The church has several ministries including a youth ministry and a TV ministry. Florence Christian School is attached to the church.
Monroe said he didn’t really have a secret formula he used to build the church. He said he just preached what was in the Bible— the good news of eternal hope and life. He said he believes people are hungry for a Bible-centric preacher. He said he didn’t entertain and the church did not try to be trendy.
“It means a lot,” Monroe said. “I’ve never regretted coming here for a minute. Times have changed. The world has changed immensely. The Gospel hasn’t changed.”
Monroe added that other than his family the ministry he founded was the reason he lived. He said he loved being able to deliver the positive message of the Bible that Jesus died for the sins of humanity and provided humanity an opportunity for eternal salvation.
He said his favorite part of the Bible was the death and resurrection of Jesus, which is featured in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and Acts. Monroe said it was hard for him to select one Biblel verse but he always goes back to John 3:16.
In the King James Version of the Bible, John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”