As believers in Jesus Christ, we share a rich history that begins with those of the earliest Christians. The early church brought about the most amazing transformation of diverse social and religious cultures ever achieved by peaceful means in the history of the world. “What the soul is to the body, that are Christians in the world,” was a description of early believers after Christ’s resurrection and ascension. This has continued through the First and Second Great Awakenings, when a heightened sense of spirituality and personal vigor for the ways of Christ has transformed our country and society at every level. Yet, these various religious movements can be traced back to a core belief of Christ’s eminent return—His second coming.
The Millerite movement of the 1800s envisioned Christ’s return, when its founder William Miller, a Baptist preacher from Pittsfield, Massachusetts, errantly predicted the date and time of the second coming. Though scripture specifically warns believers that “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.”(Matt. 24:36-37), some realized in preparation for that glorious day that they lived differently, having a sense of urgency for personal repentance and bringing others to Christ. A group splintered from the Millerite followers and began adhering to the scripture, “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”(Matt. 24:42-44), and decided to live everyday as though Christ would return. Today, this group is known as Advent Christians.
The First Advent Christian Church of Lake City can trace its origin back to this group of faithful believers, who lived according to scripture, who loved and served others as Christ commands, and prepared daily for the second coming of Christ.
Here is a brief history of our church as it was first established in Lake City, Florida.
The Lake City Advent Christian Church was organized October 18, 1894, at the Henderson Opera House. Elder John E. King presided and opening prayer was led by Elder H.V. Skipper. Six charter members were enrolled:
W.M. Ives, C.A. Finley, Kathy V. Crawley, J.E. King, Arabella E. Ives, W.H. Perry
Mr. W.M. Ives was chosen Deacon and ordained. Elders John E, King and H.V. Skipper laid hands on him, and Elder Skipper prayed. This is how the Lake City Advent Christian Church had its beginning.
A church building had been completed by December 19, 1900 on the corner of West Duval and South Alachua Streets. The property was donated by W.M. and Arabella Ives, and the construction cost for the building was $705.46 (exclusive of light fixtures). Benches were installed for $121.03. During the first 6 years, the Church grew from 6 members to a membership of 85 by the year 1900.
In 1913 Judge W. M. Ives gave land on West Duval Street for a parsonage. In 1936 a lot was purchased from Mr. Ethel Herne for $300.00 and in 1938 a three story Sunday School building was constructed as an addition to the original church building. In 1944 at the Fiftieth Anniversary, Rev. Gorden Reed stated, “The three story Sunday School addition gives us on of the best equipped churches of our faith in the State. The church also owns a large, well furnished parsonage. While our church is not large, nor our members well-to-do in worldly goods, though rich in faith, the church is out of debt and owns some War Bonds.”
Rev. Burr Bixler served the church on two different occasions. He left the church in 1909, after two years to go to Dowling Park where he began work toward what is now our Advent Christian home. During his ministry at First Advent Christian Church of Lake City from 1931-1938, Rev. Bixler also served as Editor of the “Present Truth Messenger” at Live Oak.
In 1946, while Gordon Reed was pastor, the need was seen for a new church site and building. A building fund was established, and a committee was appointed to investigate various possible locations for a new church. In 1947 negotiations were begun to purchase a site on West Duval Street. In 1948 a building fund of $4,047.37 was reported. In 1953 three lots on West Orange Street were purchased, and the parsonage was moved to that site.
During 1957 it was decided that the Duval property would not be suitable; and after some delay, a site between Columbia City Road and McFarlane Avenue was purchased. In 1960 Rev. Hugh Shepard, Director of Home Missions, came as pastor and definite progress began. This location for the new church, purchased for $7,000 was found unsuitable for building because of underground springs; however, Mr. Austin Brown, from whom the property was purchased, traded the church for the land where the present church was built (borders SR 47 and McFarlane Avenue). The ground breaking ceremonies were held September 24, 2961, and the cornerstone was laid during services held on June 10, 1962.
Mr. J.J. Hamblin of Bridgeport, Connecticut, was selected as the Architect and was paid $2,000 for his services. The Building Committee was composed of Rev. Hugh K. Shepard, Chairman; Bascom S. Greene, Vice Chairman; T.J. Cox, Treasurer; Bennett Wattles, Sunday School Superintendent; Kenneth Havaird, Trustee; Claude Waldron, Trustee; Bobby Tompkins, Trustee; and Agnes Greene, Clerk. Mr. Dewey Bullard and Mr. Steve North served as Advisory Members. The two directors and skilled builders of the church were Claude and J.W. Waldron, sons of Mr. Steward Waldron, who was a carpenter on the original Advent Christian Church building.
The first service was held in the new building on September 2, 1962, and formal dedication serves were held October 14, 1962. The building was constructed at a cost of $80,000, but is valued for much more today. The organ is a memorial to Mrs. Jean Wilson, the wife of Rev. H.J. Wilson. The chimes of the organ were given by Rev. and Mrs. Gordon O. Reed in memory of their daughter. The large window back of the baptistery was given by the Stewart Waldron family in his memory. The white cross in the front of the church was given in memory of Kendrick Tompkins by his family. The Chapel was named the Reed-Shepard Chapel, honoring Rev. Reed, who started the building fund in 1946 and Rev. Shepard, who completed the building.
In 1965 Rev. Julius Parker helped begin a kindergarten program, which helped prepare four and five year olds for public schools and gave them a background in spiritual training. A dream begun in 1952 was realized in 1967 when Rev. Gene Peters was called as Youth Director and Assistant Pastor. After serving for a year, Gene resigned so that he could return to Berkshire Christian College as Recruiting Director.
On March 4, 1966, the First Advent Christian Church was honored to host Rev. and Mrs. Clarence Kirby’s commissioning service as they heeded God’s call and embarked as missionaries to Nigeria. Mission conferences were held from October 1966 through June of 1967 raising $1,283.11 in Mission Faith Promises. In March of 1968, Rev. Oswald Smith, worldwide Mission Evangelist from Toronto, Canada, hosted another Mission Conference where over $7,000 was raised.
Present day, the First Advent Christian Church continues its service in the areas of youth work and missions, providing biblical instruction and spiritual guidance through various activities for children and youth, as well as contributing to missions through Penny Crusade fundraising. We delight in those who were faithful in the past and strive to surpass these traditions in providing for the needs of our congregation and community.
History of Pastors leading the First Advent Christian Church of Lake City:
1894 – 1901 Rev. O.T. Mattox, Rev. W.G. Hearne, and Rev. M.F. Barron
Part time pastors served the church from its beginning in 1894 until October 9, 2901, when it was voted to call a full time pastor. Rev. J.D. Kendrick was called, and accepted a salary of $37.30 a month. He served from 1901-1906.
1906-1907 Rev. Charles Eggin
1907-1909 Rev. Burr A.L. Bixler
1909-1931 Rev. W.G. Hearne, Rev. H.E. Pancost, Rev. L.B. Sherman, Rev. C.W. Stephens, Rev. J.S. Carlton, Rev. B.D. Baldwin, and Rev. L.M. Anony, Rev. Burr A.L. Bixler served again within this time period.
1938-1939 Rev. Robert M. Dunaway
1939-1949 Rev. Gordon O. Reed
1049-1953 Rev. Linwood Rowe
1953-1959 Rev. Harold J. Wilson
1960-1963 Rev. Hugh K. Shepard
1963-1968 Rev. Julius A. Parker
1868-1970 Rev. Leon Mcelhaney
1971-1973 Rev. Robert DuPriest
1973-1983 Rev. F. Banks Setzer
1983-1985 Rev. Roy L. Morrison
1985-1991 Rev. J. Edgar Hickel
These pastors have served from 1992 to the present.
Rev. Joseph F. Currens, Rev. Robert Mann, and Rev. Fred Gaylard