CHRISTIAN BREAKING NEWS: Rev. Dr. Alex Harper Sr. (Feb. 23, 1935 – Jan. 22, 2024) | Senior Pastor, First Baptist Institutional Church of Lakeland Florida, Lakeland Florida | PUBLIC VIEWING AND CELEBRATION OF LIFE

CHRISTIAN BREAKING NEWS: Rev. Dr. Alex Harper Sr. (Feb. 23, 1935 – Jan. 22, 2024) | Senior Pastor, First Baptist Institutional Church of Lakeland Florida, Lakeland Florida | PUBLIC VIEWING AND CELEBRATION OF LIFE


Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM ET
First Institutional Baptist Church
932 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue,
Lakeland, Florida 33815

Friday, Feb. 2, 2024 11:00 AM ET
First Institutional Baptist Church
932 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue,
Lakeland, Florida 33815


Obituary For Alex Harper

Rev. Dr. Alex Harper
1935 – 2024

Rev. Dr. Harper, Senior Pastor of the Historic First Baptist Institutional Church and former pastor of the Historic Greater St. Paul Missionary Baptist Institutional Church, transitioned Monday, January 22, 2024. A visitation will be held Thursday, February 1, 2024 from 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. The Celebration of Life will be held Friday, February 2, 2024 at 11:00 a.m. All services will be held at First Institutional Baptist Church – 932 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, Lakeland, Florida 33815. Interment will follow the Celebration of Life at Oak Hill Burial Park – 4620 US Highway 98 South, Lakeland, Florida 33810.

Reverend Dr. Alex Harper, Sr. was born on February 23, 1935 in Nettleton, Mississippi. He was the second of ten children born to the parentage of the late Reverend Odis and Rozena Harper. This was a very difficult time in history for African Americans. In addition to the Great Depression, segregation and Jim Crow laws made life even harder particularly in the south.

“My parents moved around a bit while I was a child. Daddy rented land for farming from various white landowners. We usually stayed in a little house located on the property. I remember staying on four farms before Daddy was able to purchase his own land (46 acres: 6 acres in the City and 40 acres outside of the City limits for farming).

During these times, my parents were working so hard to make a living that children had to work as well. I remember chopping cotton alone in the field at the age of six, while Daddy and my older Brother Freddie were working together in another field. People passing by would stop their cars to look at me and marvel “look at that little boy chop.” When I heard that, I began to chop even harder and faster. Many blacks were working on the railroads during the late 1940’s and 1950’s. Jobs on the railroad paid more than jobs in the teaching field. Many Black teenagers idolized those working on the railroad because they dressed well and drove nice cars. So, I left school and began working on the railroad at the age of 16. After a year or so, I moved to Gary, Indiana, and worked various odd jobs including picking cabbage, washing cars, and boxing before finding employment at a U.S. Steel Mill (Corporation).” It was early on in life that Dr. Harper learned to put God first, work hard, respect authority, and to love family.

“I did not play sports in school, but I remember being in a theatrical production entitled “The Devil’s Funeral,” and I played the part of the Minister who eulogized the devil. Since my family attended Church regularly and Daddy was a Minister, it wasn’t difficult to mimic a sermon I had heard. The funeral was complete with a coffin and a mirror placed inside of it, so that the congregation saw themselves as they passed by.” Even as a young child on the farm, one could see God’s hand on Dr. Harper’s life to preach the gospel.

After working in the steel mills of Gary, Indiana a few years, Dr. Harper heard that the State of Florida was a good to place to live and had better job opportunities. So, in 1959, Dr. Harper and his family of three (Martha, Alex Jr., and Rayford) moved to Lakeland, Florida.

Upon relocating to Lakeland, Florida, Dr. Harper heard about an Adult Night School. He enrolled and a year later (1961) was proud to receive his High School diploma. Later, a fellow Minister encouraged Dr. Harper to continue his education by going to the College he attended (Florida Memorial University – located in St. Augustine, Florida).

Meanwhile, as Dr. Harper pursued his academic studies at Florida Memorial University, God’s call to the Ministry of Preaching and Pastoring was even greater. Spanning a period of over 60 years (1961 to 2024), Dr. Harper has served as the Under-Shepherd of eight Congregations:
1961 – 1962 Antioch Missionary Baptist Church – West Auburndale, Florida
1962 – 1966 Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church – Medulla, Florida
1966 – 1968 Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church – Brooksville, Florida
1968 – 1974 Greater St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church – Lakeland, Florida
1974 – 1983 St. John Missionary Baptist Church – Arcadia, Florida
1983 -1984 St. John First Baptist Institutional Church – Palmetto, Florida
1984 – 1997 Bible Baptist Church – Palmetto, Florida
1997 – 2024 First Baptist Institutional Church – Lakeland, Florida

While Pastoring, Dr. Harper received a Bachelor of Arts Degree – Florida Memorial University, Master’s Degree in Biblical Studies (Tampa Extension of Dallas Seminary), Doctorate in Theology – Florida Theological Seminary, and an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity – Berean Christian College and Seminary.
Over the years, Dr. Harper devoted his life to serving God and helping people. His involvement and work in Civil Rights has helped people of all races throughout Polk County, the State of Florida, and across our nation. He served on Commissions, Advisory Boards and Councils, Conventions, Committees, and Alliances too numerous to list. He has received awards and recognized by the NAACP, Florida Memorial University, the Progressive M&E Baptist State Convention of Florida, First South Florida Missionary Baptist District Association, and organizations throughout this nation. Dr. Harper served as the last President of the State Congress of the Progressive M&E Baptist State Convention of Florida.

Until God called Dr. Harper home on Monday, January 22nd, he was still serving as Senior Pastor of First Baptist Institutional Church, President of Florida Theological Seminary and Bible College, and Director of the Congress for First South Florida Missionary Baptist District Association.

“I was living in Gary, Indiana, when I met my wife Martha, on a visit home. Her grandfather lived next door to my great uncle and aunt in Okolona, Mississippi. We communicated by letter for a while and eventually eloped on one of my visits home. In March of 1955, we were married and I entered the Ministry.”
To this union of almost 70 years between Alex and Martha, God blessed them with 3 sons: Alex Jr., Rayford, and Roger. Dr. Harper also has a beautiful daughter (Yolanda). However, as a father, Dr. Harper taught his children to love God, work hard, value family, get an education, and save your money!

Rev. Dr. Alex Harper Sr. (1935 – 2024) Senior Pastor | PUBLIC VIEWING AND CELEBRATION OF LIFE… | Christian Breaking News!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Like Us? Please Share Us!