Monday, February 11, 2019

Baptists Celebrate 130th Anniversary

The Baptists celebrating their 130th anniversary this month were the second religious group to organize as a congregation in Punta Gorda. Initially, the townspeople worshipped together at inter-denominational services held at the community center that Isaac Trabue had built as a combined school and church. But by 1888, the Baptists began organizing their group as a separate church worshipping at rented quarters above a livery stable. Baptisms were conducted in the harbor near Sullivan Street.

The original congregation consisted of nine members. Among them were James L. and Mary Sandlin, James M. and Martha Sandlin Morgan, and Mrs. Nancy Linquish. Sandlin and Morgan donated to the Baptist congregation, two lots for a church to be built on the northwest corner of Cross and Olympia streets. The lumber for the new church was supplied by Morgan who operated a sawmill on Taylor Road near Alligator Creek. By 1893 the first issue of the Punta Gorda Herald noted that there was a Baptist Church Building. It was also noted in the Herald of that year that Rev. T. J. Sparkman, pastor, conducted services every first and third Sundays.

Over the years the Baptists added Sunday School rooms, a kitchen and dining room. Still the original church building proved too small for the growing congregration. In 1962, a larger sanctuary and attendant facilities was built at its present site on Gill St. The Crosland Chapel and Sunday school
were dedicated January 28, 1962. The old pastorium was moved to the present site, but later torn down. With completion of the Crosland Chapel, the Cross Street and Retta Esplanade properties were sold to the Golden Rule Rebekah Lodge 60.  It later became a bridal shop and was ultimately lost to Hurricane Charley.

No comments:

Post a Comment