Pastor Cleo Firby was born in Wadesboro, North Carolina, where she received her education and graduated from the Faison High School. She met the Lord at an early age, and would beg her father and mother to go with them to the adult Bible class every week. As a result of her rural life she had much time to communicate with Him throughout the natural setting of farm life. Like David, she learned that, "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof."
Coming to Philadelphia in 1954, she enrolled in the Philadelphia School of Nursing remaining faithful to the Lord, under the leadership of the late Reverend Hattie Coleman in the Glorious F.B.H. Church. She was Youth Director of the young people of Downington, PA., Coatesville, PA and New York. Later on she met and married her husband, Wilbert L. Firby and joined his church. Accepting her call to preach the gospel, though with much opposition to "women preachers," she gave her all to the Lord and proclaimed the good news in season and out of season; doing revivals in and out of the city with signs following.
With such a love for young people, having no children of her own, she became very active among them and acquired the position of Youth Pastor of the Mt. Zion F.B.H. Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and became an ordained minister. She attended the Philadelphia School of the Bible for two and a half years. Later she and her husband Deacon Wilbert Firby felt it necessary to continue in the study of the Word at the Manna Bible Institute, where they both graduated. While attending Manna she initiated Bible Class on Wednesday evening at Faith Tabernacle. After graduation from Manna, the class having grown in participants, she organized the Faith Tabernacle Bible School, where many are studying the Word of God. She was coordinator for the Vacation Bible School for many years as well as teaching a Sunday school class. She also attended the Center for Urban Theological Studies (C.U.T.S.) for two years. In 1982, she became the Assistant Pastor of Faith Tabernacle Church. And in 1999 she was elevated to the Pastorate, after Pastor Blassingame became Bishop.
The Master calls, "Who will go and work today." Pastor Firby has answered again and again, here am I Lord, send me. For whatever her hands finds to do she proves to be "A servant of the Lord."