Strong faith, blessed life for longtime Tampa pastor

- Dr. Cleo Epps enjoys reading his Bible. "None of us are perfect. None of us know what God knows,” he says.

Dr. Epps was the pastor at Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church in Tampa. He led the congregation for 52 years before retiring in 2011. 

"It’s been a perfect life as far as being a pastor,” he offered.

Dr. Epps was born in Jacksonville, Florida in 1923. After high school, he was drafted into the Army, but, 
"that night, about 9 or 10, they came on the loudspeaker and said all the men that were signed up return your clothes because the Army has enough men at this time, but we need some for the Navy."

Dr. Epps spent three years in the Navy.  When he got out, he worked as a cook in Jacksonville before leaving to go to Tampa. He was working for the state government clearing land when he got the call to pastor.

"The Lord was with me," he recalled.

He started at Mount Olive in 1959. "We had about 16 people coming and I built it up to close to 2,000." 

Now, Dr. Epps has a Tampa city street named after him.  But he still believes that strong faith is the road to a blessed life. 

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