Present members of the Ocklawaha Bridge Baptist Church are the benefactors of the courage, foresight and labor of pioneer men and women who moved into this section soon after Florida was purchased in 1821. There seems to have been no permanent white settlement until the 1830’s, when Ft. King was established. The policy of Indian removal brought on the second Seminole Indian War, 1835-1842, which drove most settlers out and discouraged others from coming in. The conclusion of the war and the benefits of the Armed Occupation Act of 1842, which gave ex-Indian fighters land, enticed many settlers into what is now Marion County. Some of these adventurous families established homes east of the Ocklawaha River. Among these were the families of Dr. Moe, Mr. Mothershed and Mr. Williamson. The families of John Conner Graham, Lemuel Griggs, William Chalker, Rev. Gabriel Long, and William Holly later followed them. In later years the family names of Smith, Lovell, Marlow, and Morrison were heard in this section.

Some of the settlers came by crude boats, up the St. Johns and Ocklawaha Rivers to Silver Springs. Others came overland by ox cart and covered wagon, bringing with them the family milk cow several hound dogs, some furniture, cooking utensils, and muskets – for defense against wild animals, as protection against marauding Indians, and to bring in wild game.

Once a home site was selected the task of building homes from logs cut in the forest, making furniture, and planting crops began. The women usually tended a kitchen garden.

The pioneer condition of this section did not keep out the preachers. Far out into the wilds came ministers to proclaim the gospel. Baptist and Methodist circuit riders made frequent appearances at the homes of the settlers. They were usually welcomed, not only for spiritual purposes, but as messengers between settlements and families. In their saddle-bags would be letters and papers that had been passed from hand to hand in a pioneer postal service. Nearby families would be invited over for prayer service or a “camp meeting” would be arranged near some well-known spring, at a boat landing, or in a hammock noted for the beauty of its trees.

It is known that the Rev. S.T. Stanaland and the Rev. Willis Sellers came from South Carolina and settled in this area. In 1847 Elder Stanaland was pastor of New Hope, a church that disbanded prior to 1889 and united with Summerfield Church.

The William Holly family of ten children arrived on the east side of the river from South Carolina in 1854. According to a speech by Brother Joseph Stanaland in 1940, “In 1854 Uncle Billy Holly moved near Sharpe’s Ferry. Since there were a few families in this community, Uncle Billy, with his slaves, and a few neighbors rived out cypress boards and dressed them for the building of a new church.” This church was built near what is now known as the “Old Cemetery.” It was called the “Ocklawaha Bridge Baptist Church” because Uncle Billy lived near the bridge that crossed the river.

In 1856 the Alachua Association met at Ft. Clarke in Alachua County. Brother Stanaland was named to serve as missionary in the eastern and northern part of the association. The salary named was one dollar per day. A yearly report showed that he was paid $169.30. The Association at this time was composed of all of Florida east of the Suwannee River. This church first entertained the Association in 1863.

Again in 1883 and 1888 the Association met at this church. In 1895 they were admitted by letter to Marion Association, which had been organized in 1884 by twelve churches that were released by Alachua Association for that purpose.

From the meager information obtained from the minutes of 1870 to 1875, we note that there were many different moderators, none serving more than a year. It is noted that in 1879 prayer meetings were organized by Rev. J. P. Parker to be held the third Sunday of each month.

In 1881 Mrs. N. A. Bailey was appointed the first State Secretary of Woman’s Work. In a scrapbook prepared by her and preserved is found a record of the organization of the Ocklawaha Bridge Missionary Society in 1882. Mrs. P. L. Durisoe was president, Mrs. Julia A. Henderson was vice-president, and Miss L. E. Henderson was secretary. Three young men were honorary members, William T.Henderson, William T. Dudley, and C. T. Henderson.

The church minutes of 1883 record a problem facing the church:

“Dec. 1883 Deacon P. L. Durisoe notified the church that the land that our church and graveyard was now occupying, no more belonged to the United States Government, and was now held and owned by individual property holders. A committee of five was named to devise the best measures and means to secure the land necessary for church and graveyard purposes. Those were P. L. Durisoe, E.M. Henderson, W. B. Holly, J. B. Griggs, E. W. McDonald.” No satisfactory arrangements being made with Mr. S. Blodgêtt, owner of the property, it was decided to move the church to spot on the north side of Mothershed Lake, to property then owned by E.M; Henderson.”

In November of 1884 a building committee was named: P.L. Durisôe, M. F. Barksdale, W. B. Holly, E. M. Henderson and J.B. Griggs. A graveyard committee to lay off the graveyard was appointed: Durisoe, Henderson and Griggs.

In August of 1885 a request was made that each member of the church contribute one dime to help pay on the church lot, a part of which had been given by S. A. Long and E. M. Henderson. Total cost of the church was $455.29, unceiled. On a Friday in November of 1885 a workday was held at the church so that necessary arrangements could be made in order to hold the next worship service in the new building.

In 1885 the Sunday School was moved to the Ocklawaha Bridge Church from the Henderson school house where it was first organized by a school teacher, Miss Mamie Weldon, in the year 1882. An 1885 church minutes states that the church library was available for use by the Sunday School.

A church organ was acquired when Mrs. M. E. Holly gave one to the church in 1889. She served as organist until at least 1900.

The First World War came in 1917-1918 and many young men of the church went into the armed services. Two of these gave their lives in “the war to save democracy” – Carlos Reynolds and Virgil B. Randall.

On Sunday, October 29, 1924, between the hours of eight and nine in the evening, the church house burned down. Worship services were held under the oaks on the church grounds until a church could be built. Bros. William A. Cate, R. C. Fort, B. C. Boatwright, Lonnie Randall, W. C. Henderson and Sisters N. A. Fort and B. F. Smith were selected as a building committee. C. H. Rogers was chosen as a purchasing agent. It was decided to build a concrete house, the blocks of which were constructed on the grounds.

The building committee secured the blueprints and specifications from the Baptist Sunday School Board in Nashville.

So our next church was built. And, a report made in August of 1926 states that the church was out of debt. We judge that it was around April of 1925 when services were first held in the new church.

The minutes of the church record that in October of 1945 a motion was passed to build a Pastorium. In a tradition long established, a committee was appointed: T. L. Randall, Ethel Rogers, Ethel Henderson, W. C. Henderson and M. B. Owen. A committee to raise the money was also appointed: Percy Griggs, Robert McDonald, Barbara Mills, Barbara Parker and Mrs. L. B. Griggs

The Pastorium, a wooden frame building, was completed and the church building was modified with the addition of the Education Annex.

There have been many changes in the life and affairs of the church since its beginning, even though the essential purpose and needs remain the same. Families come to church from miles around in a matter of a few minutes, whereas their forefathers came by wagon, boat, horseback, or on foot and had to bring dinner with them. The people of the church still stand outside before and after services to exchange news and pleasantries even as in former, less hurried times. The same need for a Savior and Comforter brings the sons and daughters of the atomic age to the altar of God.

There have been two obvious changes, that the young might not notice. A quotation from the minutes of February, 1888, states, “Any male member knowing of any other male member being absent for three successive conference meetings, it shall be the duty to report the delinquent Brother to the church and he shall be cited to the next conference and if he obstinately refuses to attend he shall be considered in disorder and subject to be dealt with.” The minutes record many instances of members being cited and investigated for profanity, immorality, unseemly quarreling, mistreatment of family, non-attendance, and drunkenness. The church does not follow the practice of open criticism any more.

There were many other significant changes, for instance the rise of women to equal status with men. That was so gradually adopted that there seemed to be no change at all.

On August 3, 1952 a motion was passed to help a group of people establish a Baptist Mission at Salt Springs which is now the First Baptist Church of Salt Springs.

On November 6, 1955, Ocklawaha Bridge Baptist Church celebrated its first one hundred years of church history with the pastor, Walter I. Lampp, presiding. In the afternoon Robert L. McDonald displayed a map with an explanation of the territory where a number of churches had once existed but had disbanded, and many members came to the Ocklawaha Bridge Baptist Church. Visitors were introduced, and Edward Bruce Henderson of Tallahassee spoke on “Our Baptist Heritage.” Mr. Henderson is a grandson of Edward Marion Henderson (1837—1898) who gave the first five acres of land. Sixty members and guests signed the register for this day.

In April of 1956 plans for another Sunday School building were accepted.

January 8, 1957 a committee was appointed to plan for repair of the auditorium and to acquire new pews for the auditorium. During 1957 the second Sunday School building of the Ocklawaha Bridge Baptist Church was completed and in August 1958, a new piano, the gift of Mrs. W. B. “Pat” Holly, was gratefully accepted.

January 5, 1960 the committee to repair the auditorium and purchase new pews was activated with a special addition of enlarging of the choir space as the goal.

May 28, 1961 the committee of January 1957 was thanked and dismissed for the work done in having the floors renewed and the new pews installed. The auditorium had also been painted.

The long hand-made pews from the auditorium were given to the Moss Bluff Baptist Church.

July 10, 1962 a small marker was placed at the grave of Samuel Thomas “Uncle Thomas” Stanaland, the first known pastor of this church, in the Chalker Stanaland Cemetery near North Lake Bryant.

April 9, 1963 letters of resignation were read from the pastor, Walter I. Lampp, and from Mrs. Lampp, as custodian, to become effective June 22, 1963. They planned to retire.

December 18, 1963, Raymond L. Estes, LaFayette, Alabama, was extended the call as Pastor. He and his family moved into the Pastorium on January 25, 1964.

In March of 1968 an “Expansion, Survey and Planning Committee” was named to make a study of the need for more room. The needs were outlined as follows: 1. a sanctuary to seat five hundred; 2. more educational space; and 3. a new Pastorium. This report was continued to the August meeting to allow time for further thought and consideration.

On August 14, 1968,after lengthy discussion, a ballot vote was taken. The recommendation of the committee was accepted unanimously. The same planning committee was to continue, and a Finance Committee was named to look into means of financing the new church sanctuary.

On March 9, 1969, the Rev. Tom Hodgens of Miami, a representative of the A. B. Culbertson Company, Houston, Texas, preached at the morning service and in the evening explained a method of financing for building churches. “Church Bonds” would be sold at 7% interest, with the financing company secured by a first mortgage on the church property to assume all bills during construction. The estimated cost of the building was $85,000 and financing cost $2,750.

On August 6, 1969, a voice vote accepted the committee report that the old church building must be razed and a new one built in the same area.

By November 5, 1969, all bonds were sold, Saturday, November 8, 1969, moving and storing began. The last service was held in the old building on Sunday, November 9, 1969. On November 30, 1969, a Ground Breaking Service was held at the close of the regular morning worship hour. Temporarily, until the new Church was completed, two morning services and one evening service, were held each Sunday in the Fellowship Hall.

On July 8, 1970, T. C. Grant representing the Building Committee asked that the Church to accept the building from the contractor, Mr. H. C. Eubanks of Ocala, as completed with the exception of a few minor details. He stated that the $85,000 was about spent and that all bills were paid.

The time finally arrived for our church building to be complete; and on Sunday, July 5, 1970, we worshipped for the first time in our new comfortable building.

Dedication Day and Homecoming were combined and held on Sunday, September 6, 1970, with Dr. Harold C. Bennett, Executive Secretary of the Florida Baptist Convention doing the preaching at the morning Worship Hour. The Rev. Clyde Harless, Regional Missionary, brought the afternoon message. Following the dedication of the building, the congregation moved outside for the unveiling of the cornerstone.

On December 8, 1971, a Pastorium Committee, consisting of J.R. Peebles, Jr.(Chairman), Mrs. Jack Keller, Mrs. Sam Greene; Mrs. John Rogers, Mr. Ralph Beedle, and Mr. O. O. Harrington was appointed. A site west of the present church building was selected and plans approved. Ground Breaking Ceremonies were held, on February 13, 1972, whereupon the actual work began. Financing was mostly pay-as-you-go basis. With help from the men, women and sometimes the children of the Church, footings were dug, concrete floors poured, roofing nailed on, dry walls put up, plumbing and electrical wiring installed, air conditioning ducts put in, and all the many tasks necessary for the completion of the building were done. Finally on September 5, 1973, after about a year and a half, Robert Peebles reported to the Church, “Pastor Estes and his family have been moved into their new home.” It was a proud day in the life of the Church when, on September 30, 1973, a Dedication Service was held with Rev. W.I. Lampp, a former Pastor, delivering the morning sermon, after which a basket lunch was served. Promptly at 2:30 P.M. the service for the Dedication of the Pastorium was begun with Rev. Clyde Harless bringing the message of Dedication. At the close of this message, Tommy Estes, the younger son of Pastor and Mrs. Estes, sang “Bless this House”, and an Open House followed.

An inspirational part of our Church program has been the Brotherhood breakfasts. On December 8, 1971, Ralph Beedle reported that fourteen members and two visitors had attended the first one, and as time has passed this number has increased, and all look forward to Sunday morning when they can gather to enjoy fellowship and delicious eggs, grits, bacon, sausage and coffee.

In early 1972, the Church Council was formed. The duty of this Church Council was to study the needs of the church and to make recommendations. On July 5, 1972, it was decided to hold the Church Council meetings regularly once a quarter. Later it was changed to monthly. The Church Council is composed of the Pastor, Clerk, Sunday School Superintendent, Church Training Director, W.M.U. President, Brotherhood President, Literature Librarian, Chairman of Deacons, Treasurer, Music Minister and/or Youth Director and Chairmen of Standing Committees.

In 1973, a Properties Committee was appointed. The duty of this committee was to make recommendations concerning the Church property such as cemetery, Pastorium, sanctuary, educational buildings, etc. One of the first problems facing this committee was the disposal of the old Pastorium. On September 5, 1973, it was decided to offer it on bids to the membership. No bids were submitted either from the membership or the public, so it was sold to Jerry Fairchild for $113.00. He dis-assembled it and moved it to his property on Highway 314.

On March 10, 1974,  O. O. Harrington reported on plans for finishing the upstairs of the Church. He asked that his committee, including T. C. Grant and Jack Keller, be given authority to use the designated fund ($347.00) plus the contingency fund of about $1300.00 to finish three rooms upstairs for classroom space.

Also, at this meeting, it was decided to have the first Easter Sunrise Service on April 14, as recommended by the Church Council, details to be worked out by Mrs. R. L. McDonald, Richard Mills and Rev. Estes.

On April 10, 1974, upon motion by Jack Keller, seconded by R. H. Holly, it was decided to donate the old Communion Set to some Church which needed it. It was given to the Moss Bluff Baptist Church and along with the old Church pews given earlier, was destroyed when their Church burned.

In August of 1974, plans for a Bus Ministry, which would bring more young people into the Church program and better serve the needs of those young people who were already in the Church, was discussed. On August 7, 1974, a committee, consisting of T. C. Grant, (Chairman) John McGovern, Jerry Boyer, Sam Greene) and W. F. Godwin, was named to inspect, bid and arrange funds for the purchase of three used buses from Marion County School Board. (Already in service at this time was one small one recently purchased from Central Baptist Church.) The three buses purchased were repainted and, put into good operating condition by volunteers. And, on December 11, 1974, it was reported that two of these buses were now in operation and the other one to be on the road by December 15.

The Bus Ministry, under the direction of T. C. Grant, was a carefully supervised program, and great care taken to see that the needs of the bus riders were met. Bus Workers, as they were called, met each Saturday morning for breakfast at the Church, followed by a devotional. At the close of this devotional, each bus, with its driver and its Bus Workers, was driven on its assigned route for the purpose of contacting regular riders, as well as prospective riders. On Sunday morning, these young people, and some adults who indicated their desire to ride,  were picked up and brought to Sunday School and Church Services, after which, they were returned to their homes on the same bus.

The Bus Workers, who had to be responsible young men and women, also helped with the bus riders while they were in attendance at Church. As a reward for diligence and faithfulness, the Bus Workers enjoyed trips to various places, such as Disney World and Opry Land.

As time passed, all of the original buses were disposed of and later models purchased. As of 1980, five buses were in operation.

On October 4, 1972, upon recommendation of the Deacons, the first Youth Council, composed of seven youths and two adults, was appointed. They were:

Donna Henderson Judy Collier
Connie Grant Louise Bryant
Robbie Rogers Mrs. Jack Keller
Tom Estes Mr. William Gore
Rodney Sieg

Also at this time Miss Roberta Brant was hired to direct Youth Music at approximately $25.00 per month. However, at the next meeting her resignation was accepted and Mack Harrell of Wyomina Park was hired as Director of Youth Music on a trial basis. It was not until September 4, 1974, that a full time Youth Director, Jimmy Saunders was called.

On November 3, 1974, upon motion of W. F. Godwin, seconded by Mrs. Sam Greene, it was decided to begin Junior Church. Under the direction of Jimmy Saunders, a meaningful start was made with the Junior Church program. On August 17, 1975, Jimmy Saunders submitted his resignation as Youth Director. And, on September 10, Jeff Davis was selected to take his place. On October 5, 1975, Jeff Davis reported that another Youth Council had been formed and was now in operation. Also, the number of bus riders was increasing and Sunday School membership was increasing, with three hundred and forty-eight enrolled, two hundred fifty-two average attendance and ninety-five on the buses.

On December 8, 1976, Jeff Davis announced his resignation as Youth Director to enable him to attend Campbell College, Buie Creek, North Caro1ina. His resignation was accepted and a “Jeff Fund” was set-up to help him with his expenses while studying for the Ministry.

On January 13, 1977, T. C. Grant of the Personnel Committee recommended Charles W. (Bill) Holly, a Stetson University student, as part-time Youth Director. Upon his resignation, Mrs. Kathy Scott served for a short time, and we were without a Youth Director until Gordon Fischer was hired as full time Minister of Music and Youth, as of April 1, 1980.

A recommendation of the Expansion, Survey and Planning Committee, made and approved in 1968, was the need for more educational space. This need still existed in 1977, when Nuby Shealy presented the Long Range Planning Report, stressing as the first priority, the building of the west wing on a pay-as-you-go basis. This was approved and work was begun. Again, as had been the custom through the years, the labor came from the membership and from some of our winter visitors who regularly attended services while here.

After many long months of sawing, cutting, hammering, measuring, painting and all that it takes to make the pieces fit together, this two-story educational building located on the west side of the sanctuary was ready f or occupancy. On the second Sunday in October, 1979, this building, with its carpeted floors and ample furnishings, providing classroom space for six children’s department and six adult classes, was first used.

The first of a number of Senior Citizens’ Luncheons was held on November 22, 1977, under the direction of Mr. and Mrs. Barnie Brown, Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Loveland, Mrs. E. L. Wellhoner, and Mr. Robert S Peebles. Later Mr. and Mrs. Richard Mills joined the committee. All Senior Citizens in the Community were invited to these luncheons whether or not they were members of the Church.

On November 8, 1978, a standing Church Historical Committee consisting of Mrs. John Rogers, Mrs. E. L. Wellhoner, and Mr. Richard Mills, was appointed. Mrs. Ernest Farmer joined the committee in July of 1980.

In August of 1979, the Family Night Supper honored Miss Connie Grant, daughter of T. C. and Barbara Mills Grant, who was to leave on August 6, 1979 to serve as a Missionary Journeyman in Florianopolis, Brazil. Connie was the first of our number to answer the call to the Foreign Mission Field.

On October 29, 1979, Mrs. Ethel Henderson was employed as Church Secretary on a part-time basis. On June 4, 1980, Mrs. James (Sylvia) Taylor was hired as Church Secretary to replace Mrs. Ethel Henderson who resigned because of her husband’s ill health. Mrs. Taylor resigned on November 5, 1980 and was replaced by Mrs. Hal (Shirley) McDonell who continues to serve.

Our Pastor, Rev. Raymond Estes, received the recognition as Rural Pastor of the year for 1980. We felt that this was an honor that was well deserved, and as a Church, were pleased and proud.

We were also proud, when on May 18, 1980, Rev. Estes was a part of the team which left Tampa for Korea on the Crusade sponsored by Florida Baptists and the Foreign Mission Board. His wife, Clara, joined him on his return trip and they spent a short, well earned, vacation in Hawaii.

This history compiled by the Church Historical Committee, consisting of Mr. Richard Mills (chairman), Mrs. Fay Holly Rogers, Mrs. Lois Barnes Wellhoner, and Mrs. Caroline Welihoner Farmer, with the help of materials prepared by Mrs. Ethel Stanaland Rogers and Mr. Robert E. Jones.


Rev. Raymond Estes was called to be pastor of our church on December 18, 1963 and served seventeen years in a fruitful and productive ministry. During the time he was pastor he saw the completion of two new Sunday School buildings, a new sanctuary and a new Pastorium as well as the establishment of a bus ministry, a church council, a Junior Church and the first church employed youth director, music director and church secretary. The Florida Baptist Association recognized him as “Rural Pastor of the Year” in 1980. He was also privileged to participate in the Korean Evangelistic Crusade in May 1980. After serving the longest continuous ministry within the history of the Church, he resigned on April 27, 1981.

Since our last homecoming five years ago, two Interim Pastors served our church in the absence of a permanent pastor. They were Brother Marshall Boroughs from May 27, 1981 to January 8, 1982, and Brother Robert Shook from June 9, 1982 to January 1983. With much prayer and Christian leadership of these men, the Church continued to meet the spiritual needs of the community.

On November 1981, the church approved a “Watch care” membership program, open to members of all denominations for persons temporarily residing in the area and needing a church home. They were given all privileges of membership except voting.

At the January 1982 church conference, it was voted that the mandatory requirement that candidates for membership attend the New Members Orientation Class before being entered on the rolls of the Church be amended to read: -“New members of the Church are expected to attend the New Members Orientation Class on a voluntary basis.” This was done because many of the new members coming in by letter had already attended similar classes in the Church from which they came.

Martie Barrett was born in Marietta, Georgia. She was called to be Minister of Music and Youth in June 1982, and married Frank Ansorge in June 1983. Martie has worked hard in our youth visitation, bus ministry, Sunday School, and various youth activities. In September 1983, Martie asked to be relieved of Youth Ministry and continue with the Music Ministry. This was granted. As Minister of Music, Martie directs the sanctuary choir and arranges for special music and ensembles and the “Starlighters” children’s choir. Martie is an accomplished soloist and flutist.

Starting December 1982, we had to cope with new regulations regarding electrical power use, which imposes heavy penalties for heavy use during “peak hours”. This means we cannot use more than one air conditioning unit at certain times without heavy penalty.

On January 19, 1983, Rev. John Temoschuk of Douglas, Georgia, was called to be pastor of our Church. We were told of his being a loving pastor and his great concern for the lost.

A mission probe by the Marion Baptist Association resulted in Brother John and the Church being aware of the need of a mission.

In our rapidly growing area and the Church adopted a resolution to begin work in the Half-Moon area in May.

Brother John and wife Madeline went to Augsburg, Germany in May 1985, for Homecoming and to conduct a revival where they served from 1969-72.

In the summer of 1983, nationally known Evangelist Mercer Shaw moved into our community and he and his wife Glenelle became members of our Church. We later adopted him as Staff Evangelist so that we might under gird him in prayer and recommend him in this traveling ministry of evangelism.

The Church Fellowship Hall has many activities that include meals. Due to limited kitchen space, on January 4, 1984, the Church voted to build a new kitchen that included a commercial size range and sink.

A Lay Renewal, March 2-4, 1984, was lead by Bill Listh of North Ft. Myers Baptist Church. It proved to be a highly inspirational and enriching experience.

Troy Varnum of Lithia, Florida and graduate of Stetson University became Minister of Youth, May 1984. He later married Latriva Cannon of Fort Meade, Florida, a student of Stetson, who faithfully served with him as Troy led an effective youth ministry, and assisted the pastor in many pastoral ministries.

Troy was ordained to the Gospel Ministry April 20, 1985, and continued to serve our church until going to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky in June 1985.

On November 4, 1984, six brothers were ordained as deacons of our church. They were: Hal McDonell, Frank Ansorge, Bud Johnson, Custis Fugate, Richard Bundschuch, and Richard Davis.

May 1985, the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the Ocala Forest Post, in cooperation with our church, installed a Memorial at the Highway 40 entrance to our church. This Memorial consists of a V-shaped concrete pad and an eighteen-foot flagpole with a permanent type flag. Special services are held on Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day.

On July 14, 1985, we had our first church wide Sunday School picnic at the Ocala Boat Basin. Exceeding expectations, a group of a hundred people shared a beautiful afternoon of Christian fellowship.

On July 15, 1985, Richard and Julie (Beedle) Davis left our fellowship so Richard could assume his duties as Minister of Education and Youth at Anthony Baptist Church.

The W. M. U. exceeds most of their foreign, home and state mission goals. Their community mission projects included food baskets at Thanksgiving and Christmas, clothing and toy projects, health kits, for migrants ~and Bibles for Boy’s Ranch and Girl’s.

On September 7, 1985, the Historical Committee invited interested Church members to join them in a pilgrimage to our historical locations including several cemeteries.

On January 15, 1986, our Pastor, John Temoschuk, entered the hospital in Ocala, suffering with heart problems. He remained hospitalized until January 31, when he was able to return to his home and resume his duties as Pastor of our Church.

A committee had been working on a proposed Constitution, so on March 5, 1986, Richard Mills, Chairman of the Committee, presented the proposed Constitution and By-laws for discussion and vote. Since several sections were questioned, it was referred back to the Committee for work on these points. At the next Conference, the revised document was accepted, and R.H. Holly moved to give the Committee the power to print the Constitution in booklet form. Since this time, several changes and corrections have been made, principally for clarification.

On Sunday, May 4, 1986, Mrs. Ethel Wall McDonald, a past Music Director of our Church, was honored during the worship service. Family and friends gave many tributes to her. After the service, “Mrs. Mc”, as she is affectionately known, was honored with a Church-wide fellowship sponsored by the Sanctuary Choir, who presented her with several pieces of china. Ethel has lived almost all of her life in our community and has been an active member of our church for many years. She is the daughter of the late William and Lucy Sewell Wall, early settlers of our community. She and her husband, Robert L. (Shug) McDonald, were outstanding members of the Choir and often sang duets for special occasions.

In July of 1986, the Senior Adults held their regular monthly luncheon and sponsored a Church-wide Old Fashioned Fourth of July Picnic with food, fellowship, and homemade ice cream.

In August of 1986, a motion was approved to start a fund for Lorraine Rogers, a member of our Church, who would soon be going to Kenya as a Missionary for Campus Crusade for Christ. The group approved a motion by Nancy Keller, seconded by Richard Mills, to start this fund, guaranteeing an initial gift and a monthly gift based on pledges signed by members of the congregation. At a later date, while on furlough, Lorraine reported back to our Church with a message illustrated with slides.

The Congregate Meals Program, under the direction of Mrs. Ethel Henderson, began operating on November 3, 1986, at our Church. This program, sponsored by the Marion County Senior Services, provided a hot meal and fellowship for those over 60 years of age. It proved to be so successful that Meals on Wheels program began operation in January of 1987. Meals were delivered to shut—ins and others unable to come to the center. Volunteers from the community also operated this.

The W.M.U. Give-Away program, under the direction of Mrs. Phyllis Rodgers, which began a few years ago, was very successful and served a need in the community. Through this program clothing and other necessary supplies were provided to needy families, especially at the beginning of school and at Christmas time. Along this same line, on March 4, 1987, Mrs. Ethel Henderson, of the Senior Adult Ministry, asked, and received approval, to open a “Share and Care Center” to be started in the Church basement. This Center was to be operated by the Senior Adult Ministry and was to be a program for sharing clothing and other useful items with the poor and less fortunate in the community. This Center, which was later called “Care ‘N’Share”, is continuing to provide many necessary items to those in need of a helping hand. T. C. Grant donated a trailer for use by the Center. With the help of volunteers, the trailer was cleaned, repaired, and painted. Shelves were built and other improvements made. The ladies spent hours making and repairing clothing to be given away. Toys, household furnishings, as well as other useful items were also made available.

After fifteen years of dedication from our youth and adults, the Bus Ministry, which began in December of 1974, came to an end, On September 1, 1988, the buses made their last run. Due to the age of the buses and new regulations, it was no longer safe to continue operating them.

On June 6, 1987, a Heritage Day was held at the Church. Fay Holly Rogers wrote the following account of the happenings of the day:  All had a good time and the Lord blessed us with a beautiful balmy day at our first Church Heritage Day, Saturday, June 6, 1987. There was an interesting display of antiques by various families of the community along with demonstrations of chair caning, lye soap making and scrub board laundering to remind us how our early ancestors worked and lived.

The magnolia tree, which marks the spot of our first Church on this site, was the location for the lovely WMU display pertaining to the history of our Church. They had copies of the Church history available for handout.

Three Marion County authors were on hand with their books on local history for sale. They were Sybil Bray Margaret Long, and Fayc Perry Melton.

The food provided seemed to be enjoyed by all and disappeared rapidly as it was not only delicious but was being sold at old timey prices. A special feature was the swamp cabbage cooked by Mr. Freeman Godwin. Also available was chicken and rice, a hot dog plate, corn muffins, various flavors of homemade ice cream made by the young couples and singles Sunday School class and a choice of ice tea, coke or lemonade to quench the thirst. To satisfy the sweet tooth one could purchase a variety of delicious looking home baked delicacies from the bake sale sponsored by the youth of the Church and yet another bake sale by the East Marion Homemakers Club.

A special attraction for the children was the horse and buggy rides which they particularly enjoyed and also served as a reminder to everyone~ of the mode of transportation our ancestors had. The older youth seemed to enjoy keeping a continual game of volleyball going.

Many enjoyed the music which was high-lighted under a colorful, billowing parachute canopy which was set up under the shade of the beautiful spreading oak trees. The King James Singers from Chiefland were featured with ladies and men quartets from the Church also filling in. Our music director, Martie Ansorge, and our new summer youth director, Charles Mims, entertained with a mini-concert on the flute and clarinet.

Mr. Pete Holly, at age 96, was probably the oldest East Marion County native present and was happy to relate his recollections of days gone—by of the community and the Church. He recalls attending the first Ocklawaha Bridge Baptist Church built on Mothershed (Church) Lake with everybody coming in horse and buggies. He says the person who drove the first motorcar to the Church was Neal Stanaland. (The car was a Ford coupe.) Also present was Mrs. Kate Randall, native of Conner, who at age 89 still has vivid memories of those early days in our community also.

Many of the ladies were dressed in costume relating to the mid 1800’s with beautiful bonnets and broad-brimmed flowering hats galore. Some of the men, also, were dressed according to the occasion. Particularly outstanding was Pastor Temoschuk in his black tie and tails and top hat from an earlier era, which also served as Master of Ceremonies.

A representative from the Forestry Service was present with an interesting display of pictures of Juniper Springs and other areas of the Ocala National Forest in its early formative years.

In the year 1885 the Sunday School was moved to the Ocklawaha Bridge Baptist Church from the Henderson school house where a schoolteacher, Miss Mamie Waldon, first organized it in the year 1882. Miss Waldon was portrayed at Church Heritage Day by one of our Sunday School teachers in the children’s department, Mrs. Tom Stevens.

A display of children’s artwork from East Marion School was enjoyed and also judged by a former member, Mrs. Cecil Bryant.

When those brave pioneers first began to carve out a civilization from the wilderness “across the Ocklawaha River” one of the problems they had to deal with was the presence of Indians. To remind us on Heritage Day of the Indian situation, representatives of the local chapter of the White Buffalo Society were on hand to answer questions and display their lovely home— made beadwork that is used in rituals and also for wearing apparel.

Several hundred people enjoyed the activities of the day as we were reminded of our Christian heritage and paid tribute to our forefathers. Everyone joyfully entered into the spirit of the day and all had a good time.

This body of believers at Ocklawaha Bridge Baptist Church applauds: Mr. Richard Mills, Chairman of the Historical Committee, and the other members of his committee for instigating and coordinating this great day.

On October 5, 1988, John Rogers gave an oral report that Cemetery lots were available to Church members only, with just an annual fee required for upkeep.

November 9, 1988, members of the Cemetery Section, recommended, and it was approved, that the Church accept an Acton Memorial in the form of a wrought iron arch, to be placed over the middle gate of the west entrance to the Cemetery, in memory of William and Lou Acton.

On Saturday, December 17, 1988, the young people of the Church had their annual Hayride and Carol Sing. They went to Tall Timber Trailer Park, where they sang Christmas Carols and gave a Puppet Show. The people at Tall Timber served delicious refreshments to the group. This visit to Tall Timber has been an annual event since the Christmas of 1968, when Mr. T. C. Grant first brought them there for a program of Christmas music. The people of Tall Timber always look forward to their visit.

On January 4, 1989, Stan Cook, Sr. Chairman of the Properties Committee, gave a report of his committee, stating that the steps to the fire escape were completed, safety lights in the Sanctuary had been installed by Mr. Ken Peterson, the mercury light was repaired by Mr. Hal McDonnell, and the Pastorium was painted by Mr. Bill Hartman. Other future maintenance needs were listed, such as a need for some new bathroom fixtures, replacing of some windows in the Fellowship Hall, replacing shingles on the Church building, painting the inside of the Church, and repairing the kitchen addition, which was falling in. At a later date it was reported that most of the needed repairs had been made.

In February of 1989, it was decided that the Easter Sunrise Service on March 26, at 7:00 A.M. would be extended to include participation from other Churches in the Community. The service would still be a function of our Church and the service itself would ref1ect this.

On March 25, 1989, a Cemetery Heritage Day was held. The bus left the Church at 8:30 A.M. and stopped first at the site of the original Church and Cemetery. A small wooden cross was placed at the site of the original Church. The group then proceeded to the John Conner Graham Cemetery where a former Deacon, Peter Laboard Durisoe, and his wife, Elizabeth Jane Graham Duke Durisoe, are buried. Elizabeth Jane Durisoe was the first President of our W.M.U. After a short program and a Hymn, the group then went to the Pine Grove Methodist Church Cemetery, near Conner, where many of the early pioneers in our Community are buried. The next stop was the Gore Cemetery, at Lacota, then the Hull Cemetery, where a former Pastor, Benjamin I. Hull, and his wife, are buried. The next stop was the Chalker-Stanaland Cemetery, where one of our very earliest Preachers, Rev. S. T. Stanaland, and his wife are buried. The last stop was at our own Ocklawaha Bridge Baptist Church Cemetery, where a program honoring James H. Parramore, one of the first persons buried in the Cemetery, was held.

At each stop, the group sang a Hymn, which all of us remembered from earlier days. Everyone agreed that each Hymn was quite appropriate for the Cemetery. A brown bag lunch was then held in the Fellowship Hall. It was an inspiring day for all who were able to attend.

The following is a Program for this Cemetery Heritage:


Welcome to our special Cemetery Tour … so many of us have friends and loved ones in these “hallowed grounds” and we invite your memories and comments as we go down memory lane together.

Leave our Church at 8:30 A.M. Sharp:

1. ORIGINAL SITE OF FIRST Church – Place temporary marker and then visit the OLD OI3BC Cemetery (Off Hwy 40 and on Cemetery Road)

Led by: Elden Luffman and R.H. Holly, Jr.


Led by: Carol Welihoner Farmer and Dorothy McDonald Redding


Led by: Ethel Wall McDonald

4. GORE CEMETERY (Off Lacota Road)

Led by: Freeman Godwin

5. HULL CEMETERY (Off 314A North)

Led by: Nuby Shealy

6. CHALKER CEMETERY (Off 314A South)

Led by: Fay Holly Rogers and Richard Mills


Led by: Reverend John Temoschuk and Fay Holly Rogers

On April 7, 1989, Pastor John Temoschuk was honored by Stetson University. Then on April 30, at the morning service at our Church, Rev. Dr. John Pelham, representing Stetson University, gave the morning message and presented our Church with a framed award for the Pastor, recognizing him as Pastor of the Year.

The annual Sunday School Picnic was held May 27, 1989, at Camp Kiwanis. Those who attended enjoyed the activities including swimming, volleyball, horseshoes, and fishing, as well as plenty of barbecue chicken.

In August of 1989, it was decided that a Flower Committee was needed. This Committee would be responsible for providing appropriate floral arrangements and decorations in the Church Sanctuary as needed for regular services. This committee was also to coordinate decorations for special occasions, excluding weddings, receptions, and showers.

On August 9, 1989, Mrs. Bobby Grant was recognized for her faithfulness to our Church for so many years in placing flowers in the Church every Sunday and on all other occasions and for decorating so beautifully during the holidays. All this has been done at no expense to the Church.

On Sunday, October 15, 1989, a special Commissioning-Dedication Service was held for Lloyd and Connie Grant Rodgers. They and their two children will soon be going to Costa Rica where they will attend language school in preparation for their work as missionaries in Venezuela. Connie is the daughter of T. C. and Bobby Mills Grant. She was born in our community and grew up in the fellowship of this Church.

The second Ecumenical Choir Festival of East Marion, sponsored by the East Marion Chamber of Commerce, was held at Ocklawaha Bridge Baptist Church on Thursday, December 14, 1990, at 7:00 P.M. Choirs from Churches in the area brought songs of this glorious season of the birth of Jesus.

Our Church Council recommended that our Church participate in World Mission Conference sponsored by the Marion Baptist Association on October 14-17, 1990.

On April 4, 1990, Reverend John Temoschuk resignation was read and approved, effective April 30, 1990. Reverend Temoschuk, who had been our Pastor since January 19, 1983, will be retiring from full time pastorate.

On May 9, 1990, our Church selected Reverend Marshall Boroughs as Interim Pastor to serve until a regular Pastor could be called. He and his wife, Margaret, by love and dedication, have endeared themselves to all of us.

On July 11, 1990, at our Church Conference, Reverend Jimmy Snell, by majority vote, was called as our new Pastor. Reverend Snell, wife, Bobbie, and their three children, Tammy, Pamela and Jamie, started their work with us on August 27, 1990. We look forward to great work for the Lord with the joint effort of our Church members and Reverend Snell and family.

Our Church, located on the northern shore of Mothershed Lake (now known as Church Lake), in the beautiful Ocala National Forest, continues to thrive as it attempts to serve the needs of our community. Again we celebrate another Homecoming — our 135th — and we praise God and give thanks for the labors of His willing servants.

Deacons ordained since 1985:

Robert Hilts October 30, 1988
Nicholas Wehring October 30, 1988
Steve Bohannon October 30, 1988

This additional history compiled by the Church Historical Committee, consisting of Mr. Richard Mills, Chairman, Mrs. Ellen Henderson Hutto, Mr. Nuby Shealy, Mrs. Fay Holly Rogers, Mrs. Caroline Welihoner Farmer, and Mrs. Hope Howard Holden.


Samuel Thomas Stanaland 1867
J. P. Parker 1875 – 1882
W. J. Hughes 1883 – 1889
Harmon C. Martin 1889 – 1898
Benjamin I. Hull 1899
T. N. Spicer 1900 – 1901
J. P. Reaves 1902 – 1904
Z. A. Crumpton 1905 – 1906
Newton B. Plummer 1907 – 1909
Robert Furman Rogers 1910
J. Haraldson 1911 (1st Half)
Edward Marion Henderson 1911 (2nd Half)
W. L. Martin 1912
R.J. Gorbet 1913
Benjamin I. Hull (Uncle Sam) 1914 – 1915
Robert Furman Rogers 1916
Hawley E. Ridenour 1917 – 1918
R. Strickland 1919
Gus Padgett 1920 – 1922
J. C. Boatwright 1923 – 1924
R. E. Burke 1925 – 1926
P. M. Yeargan 1927 – 1928
James L. Moore 1929 – 1934
Almer Kelly 1935
James L. Moore 1936 – 1942
David M. Gardner, Jr. Oct. 1942 – 1943
Harold Mitchell Oct. 1943 – Aug. 1945
Walter R. Faust 1946 – 1947
J. R. Vasser 1948 – 1950
Walter I. Lampp Dec. 24, 1950 – June 22, 1963
Raymond L. Estes Dec. 18, 1963 – April 27, 1981
John Tucker Dec. 30, 1981 – May 5, 1982
John Temoschuk Jan. 19, 1983 – April 30, 1990
Jimmy Snell Aug. 27, 1990 -

According to old church minutes, 1871 – 1881, we should add the following names as pastors of the church:

Bro. Kerkien 1871
Bro. Mcglan (McLain?) 1872
Bro. Hull 1873
Bro. Canton 1874
Bro. Hamon 1874

Also, according to a copy of an old associational letter, S.T. Stanley (Stanaland) was pastor in 1864 as well as 1867.

Old Cemeteries East of The Ocklawaha River

Lake Kerr, Pats Island, Powell Town (Gore), Conner Graham, Old Ocklawaha Bridge Ocklawaha Bridge, Griggs, Hull, Chalker, Stanaland, Lake Bryant, Electra, Moss Bluff


It was decided at our January 1991 church conference that we A donate our old hymnals to the “Springs Resort” at Silver Springs upon the arrival of our new 1991 Baptist Hymnals.

Various members of the church donated their time to do much needed interior painting of the church in March and April 1991.

Church member, ZoAnn Johnson, was hired as part-time youth director, June 1991. The youth meet on Wednesday evenings for Bible study, devotion, prayer, instruction and recreation. They have choir practice on Sunday afternoon. The youth have held several successful dinner-theatres, yard sales and T-shirt sales to raise money for their summer retreats. The summer retreats have proven to be a blessing to both the youth and their leaders as souls are being saved and other life-changing decisions being made during this retreat week. The youth also participate in the “See You at the Pole” event each year.

An interesting spectacle occurred on Vacation Bible School Graduation night, July 10, 1991, with Pastor Jimmy Snell and Deacon Hal McDonell singing from the rooftop of the church as they promised to do if VBS enrollment reached 100. That goal was broken with a total enrollment of 153. There were five decisions to accept Jesus as Savior as a result of VBS 1991.

In September 1991 the Deacon Body recommended that a long-range planning committee be organized by the church to recommend to the congregation comprehensive plans for the future giving its attention to the continuing needs of our church within a future scope of three to five years. This committee will consist of the officers of the church council.

On October 1991 the Royal Ambassador program was reorganized under the leadership of several dedicated men of the church. Out of an enrollment of 100 approximately 25 meet once a week for missions study and activities. The RA Chapter is named for our local missionaries, Lloyd and Connie Rodgers, who are currently serving in Venezuela. The RA’s participate in community missions by assisting in raking, cutting wood, cemetery mowing and cleaning. The boys and their leaders have enjoyed various activities together each as RA Conference, camping trips, derby and track meets, basketball and naval base trips.

Church member Arthur Anderson, for the benefit of shut-ins, began a videotape ministry January 1992.

At the April 1992 church conference the wheels were set in motion to begin the process of renovating the sanctuary including new carpeting, upholstery and lighting. The baptistery will also be included in the proposed improvements.

August 1992, Bruce Hallman transported donated goods to South Florida for those in need after the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew. Also, 105 health kits made by the WMU were sent to the hurricane victims.

The Special Services (benevolence) committee stays busy serving he needy in our community with bags of groceries, gas purchase orders, help with rent and utilities and serving meals to families after funerals.

The church office was modernized November 1992, with the purchase of a Packard Bell computer.

Former pastor, Raymond Estes, and his wife Clara, rejoined the church by letter from First Baptist Church of McIntosh, on Feb.16, 1993. Rev. Estes became the church’s first associate pastor Oct. 4, 1993.

Four new deacons were ordained June 6, 1993,

Keith Owen Steve Clare
Howard Nutter Todd Spicher

Lloyd and Connie Rogers, missionaries to Venezuela, led services July 1993, relating many interesting things concerning their ministry there. Connie is the daughter of T. C. and Bobby Grant, long time members of Ocklawaha Baptist Church.

The adult Discipleship Training Department, led by Julie Davis, enjoyed a retreat at Bulow Resort near Flagler Beach July 1993. Many have been blessed from the study “Experiencing God” which was begun in the 1994/95 church years. An award from the Florida Baptist Convention was given to Ocklawaha Bridge for 285 credit hours, which was credited to this course. This was the most study hours in the Marion Baptist Association.

The children’s’ ministry was enhanced September 1993, with the installation of playground equipment which is greatly enjoyed on frequent occasions.

The oldest building on the grounds, known as Building “A”, was renovated October 1993, with new carpeting, paneling and painting. It is much improved.

On October 28, 1993, Ocklawaha Bridge Baptist Church -hosted the annual meeting of the Marion Baptist Association.

After eleven years of productive service, Martie Ansorge, music director, resigned effective December 20, 1993.

The “Care and Share” program, a ministry of the Senior Adults, has served many needy people of the community since its inception in 1987. Besides serving the needy on a weekly basis with clothes and household goods, they have organized an annual “Back to School give-away which provides many school children with clothes and supplies. Also, they have a “Christmas give-away” serving as many as 700 individuals.

The Forest area now has several churches of different faiths. Once a year we come together shortly before Christmas for an Ecumenical Choir Service. This is usually held at Ocklawaha Bridge as we have the largest sanctuary. This is a good time of fellowship and singing with our sisters and brothers in Christ from the different faiths.

A new and much larger church sign was installed at the entrance to the church April 1994.

As money for the renovations came in the first priority was to install nine new cylindrically shaped lights, which greatly improved the lighting in the sanctuary? This was accomplished October 1994.

John and Lorraine Nordmeyer, missionaries to Africa, spoke about their work in that country on the evening of October 29, 1994. They are missionaries through the Campus Crusade for Christ program. Lorraine is a former member of Ocklawaha Bridge.

Dr. John Sullivan, Executive Director of the Florida Baptist Convention, conducted an Associational Prayer Retreat at Ocklawaha Bridge on October 29, 1994.

Renovation plans to the sanctuary moved ahead with improvements being made to the baptistery December 1994. The old curtains were removed and vertical blinds installed which included a motorized closing and Opening of the blinds. Also, a beautiful mural was placed in the baptistery background.

In 1994 a much needed turn-off lane at the church entrance making it much safer improved the highway in front of the church.

Our transportation needs were improved with the purchase of a good used van January 1995.

The Women’s Missionary Union (WMU) meets every first Wednesday of each month to set goals for mission awareness, mission activities, and mission projects. The WMU sponsors Thanksgiving baskets for the needy in the community and fruit baskets for the homebound. Christmas, 1994, over 400 ditty bags were made by the WMU, also for the needy in the community. These bags include hygiene articles and gospel tracts. Another project in 1994-95 was a paper shower for the Lakeland Children’s Home, which was delivered; by a group of WMU members and other interested church members. Dr. Hugh and Rebbeca McKinley, missionaries to Africa, were the guest speakers at the 1994. Christmas Lottie Moon Banquet.

Some changes will be taking place in the WMU beginning 1995 – 1996. After 81 years of service the well-known Royal Service magazine will be replaced by a publication called Mission Mosaic. Also, Baptist Women and Baptist Young Women will be replaced with name Women on Mission.

Girls in Action, the church’s mission organization for girls in grades 1-6, meet each week to study missions and enjoy related activities.

Acteens, the church’s mission organization for girls in grades 7-12, are busy, actively discovering and meeting needs in the community. They also have been involved in Home and Foreign Missions.

Baptist Men, the men’s mission organization of the church, have been meeting monthly for fellowship and mission related discussion. Brother Bob Hilts served as director of the Baptist Men for many years, leading the men in a prison ministry that -included taking Sunday School literature to the jail every quarter and purchasing Mother’s Day cards for the inmates use. Also, 1,000 Christmas cards were bought by the Baptist Men and taken to the Lowell Correctional Institute for the inmates use. This ministry has touched many hearts and lives. There have been community mission’s projects accomplished by the Baptist Men also.

Julie Davis is serving as interim music director until such time a music director will be called.

The Homebound ministry has been very active and involved bringing cheer to those who are unable to attend worship services. En addition to visiting in private homes, they visit the Forest Retirement Home and the Gill Retirement Home every two weeks where they conduct Bible study and sing songs of praise. The Homebound teachers also visit several of the nursing homes in the Ocala area once or twice a month taking Christian literature and the Church bulletin. In addition, they make certain that no homebound person is forgotten on their birthdays and at Christmas.

The oldest member of our church is Mrs. Kate Randall who celebrated her 97th birthday on July 29, 1995. She has been a member of Ocklawaha Bridge Baptist Church for 65 years and still attends regularly.

Sunday School enrollment as of September 1, 1995, stands at 465~ with an average attendance of 199.

There have been 104 baptisms from 1991 until Sept. 1, 1995.

As we anticipate the year 2000, we pause to reflect and remember the accomplishments of the past 140 years at Ocklawaha Bridge Baptist Church, yet feel compelled to strive even more diligently to work toward that eternal goal as we approach the next century. God’s richest blessings have been ours. May we prove to be worthy of them?

This history compiled by the Church Historical Committee, consisting of Mr. Richard Mills (Chairman), Gaston Stallings, Nuby Shealy, Jerry Fairchild, Kathryn Fairchild, and Fay Holly Rogers.

A note from Pastor Jimmy Snell:

‘History is being made each day we serve our Lord. The future for Ocklawaha Bridge Baptist Church promises rich blessings and many experiences with God as we learn more of His will and continue to involve ourselves in His work. Our prayer is that the history we make today will include you as a disciple tomorrow.”
Serving Him Now,

Pastor: Jimmy Snell

Ocklawaha Bridge Baptist Church
14100 NE Hwy. 40
Silver Springs, FL 34488
Church Office Phone: 352-625-2492
Fax: 352-625-6260
Building Day Care: 352-625-7425