HISTORY OF PASCO COUNTY

Elfers Baptist Churches

(Under Construction)

Much of the information for this page is taken from a history of Westside Baptist Church by Judith R. Jolly, Chair, Board of Directors, Florida Baptist Historical Society. This page was last revised on Jan. 2, 2017.

Jan. 8, 1876. Rev. John W. Wells begins serving as pastor of the newly organized Union Church, according to a local church register. This church is believed to be the first Baptist church in western Pasco county. The six charter members were W. F. Baillie and his wife, Allen Hill and his wife, Rosanne Baillie and Mr. Cobb. It was built where the West Elfers Cemetery is now located.

Oct. 19-21, 1878. “Petitionary letters from . . . Anclote, Hernando County.” Delegate W.A. Cobb; Members 15; SFBA Contribution 50 cents. [South Florida Baptist Association]

Oct. 15-17, 1881. Represented by letter; No pastor; Baptisms 1; Letters 2; Members 17; SFBA Contribution 50 cents. [South Florida Baptist Association]

1882. The history provided by the Elfers Baptist Church for the WPA survey has: “Constituted in 1882 in a log church a short distance west of Elfers. ... First settled pastor, Rev. Robert E. Bell, 1882-86.”

1885. Webb’s Historical, Industrial and Biographical Florida has, in its entry for Anclote: “There are two churches, the Anclote Baptist, Rev. Mr. Cadden, pastor, and the Methodist, Rev. Mr. Miller.”

October 14-18, 1885. Withdrawn from SFBA membership to become organizing member of Hernando Baptist Association. [South Florida Baptist Association]

1885. Pastor, J. T. Pittman; Delegates B. Bailey, J. O. Brown; Baptisms 4; Letters 5; Expelled 2; Dismissed 14; Members 24; HBA Contribution $1. [Hernando Baptist Association]

1885. West Pasco’s Heritage has:

In 1885 differences of opinion resulted in a split of the Union Church. The Methodists left and started the Sapling Woods Methodist Church; and those who remained became the Anclote Baptist Church, which flourished for a while and then ceased to exist. The new Methodist Church was built on five acres of land donated by the Lake Butler Villa Company, near the Cotee River on East Trouble Creek Road, known to- day as the East Elfers Cemetery.

1885. The historic marker at West Elfers Cemetery has, “When a fire destroyed the church in 1885, the Methodists established their own church and a cemetery, now known as East Elfers Cemetery.”

1886 or 1888. “In 1886, Baptist church building was burned and services were held in the school building on Bert Baillie’s place, now known as Spring Hill Lake Estates, until a new church building could be completed. (Source: Florida Cracker Days.) However, according to a 2001 Tampa Tribune article, the church building was lost to fire in 1888.

1886-87. Florida State Gazetteer in its entry for Anclote says that Anclote has Baptist and Methodist churches. It lists Rev. Parker, pastor M. E. church, and Rev. Pittman, pastor Baptist church.

1889. Florida Cracker Days has: “In 1889, the church moved to a new building on property owned by P. J. Baillie and was presided by the Reverend J. T. Pittman.”

1890. The history provided by the Elfers Baptist Church for the WPA survey has: “In 1890 this building burned and for a few months services were held in the home of one of the members during the construction of another building located one mile south of Elfers.”

Aug. 25, 1890. According to this web page: “August 25, 1890 - William J. Baillie and Sarah A. Baillie sell property to: B.B. Baillie and John M. Baillie, Trustees of the Anclote Missionary Baptist Church - for the sum of one dollar. The deed is recorded April 20th, 1892. This property would be located off S. R. 54 Approximately where the entrance of the Tanglewood Terrace subdivision is presently located.”

(In a 1978 interview, Peter Joseph “Uncle Joe” Baillie recalled that his father, William John Baillie, purchased 80 acres of land and donated one acre to the Anclote Baptist Church as a site for a church building. He recalled that when Elfers began to grow, the church moved to Elfers and returned Baillie’s land to him.)

1891. The 1891 American Baptist Yearbook lists West Anclote as a new church.

Oct. 30 to Nov 1, 1891. No pastor; Messengers, J.J. Stevens, B.B. Bailey; PBA $2; Baptisms 1; Letter 1; Restoration 2; Exclusion 1; Males 11; Females 14; Members 25; Clerk, W.J. Baillie, Tarpon Springs; Meeting House, $150; Ministry $1; Miscellaneous $1. [Pasco Baptist Association]

1891. The historic marker at West Elfers Cemetery has, “In 1891, the Baptists relocated to become the Anclote Missionary Baptist Church.”

Sept. 26, 1892. The History of the First Baptist Church of Tarpon Springs has: “On September 26, 1892, a little band of Baptist Believers in Christ met for worship in a small school house in Anclote, Florida. Bro. A. L. Randall conducted the preaching service and Bro. T. M. McGill, acting as moderator called the body to order, stating the purpose of the meeting was to form a new and independent church, where upon three brothers and five sisters presented letters for that Purpose. Thus, the West Anclote Baptist Church came into existence. After prayer, Mrs., Sarah Thompson presented herself for Baptism. The charter members were Brothers E. A. Hill, W. A. Cobb, A. Z. Dekleand Sisters Eunicie A. Hill, Mary T. Hill, T. Gause, Lettie Dekleand Sarah A. Meyer.

Sept. 16, 1894. The History of the First Baptist Church of Tarpon Springs has: “On September 16, 1894, the West Anclote Church was dissolved and reorganized as the Baptist Church of Tarpon Springs.”

Nov. 3-6, 1898. No pastor; Messengers, J. T. Pittman, W. J. Bailey; Clerk, W. J. Bailey, Tarpon Springs; Letter 2; Died 1; Males 18; Females 14; Total 27. [Pasco Baptist Association]

Oct. 30 to Nov. 1, 1902. Pastor, J. I. Spivey, Pasco; Clerk, W. J. Baillie, Tarpon Springs; Messengers, Thomas Pinder, William J. Baillie; Members 22; PBA $1.35. [Pasco Baptist Association]

Oct. 31 to Nov. 3, 1907. Pastor, J. W. Gideon, Lacoochee; Clerk, W. J. Baillie, Tarpon Springs; Messengers, J. I. Spivey, A. J. Stevens; SS Superintendent, Thomas Pinder, Tarpon Springs; SS Officers/Teachers 3; Pupils 24; Expenses $4.45; Literature, SBC; PBA $2.50; Organized 1876; Property $300; Pastor’s Salary $63.06; AM .50; HM $1; FM $2; Orphanage $3.45; Education .50; Minutes $1; Letters 3; Baptisms 3; Membership 35. [Pasco Baptist Association]

Jan. 26-28, 1909. Pastor, C. H. Edwards (“Pastor for 1908, but not now”); Baptisms 2; Membership 34; Expenses, Including Pastor’s Salary $60; Associational Missions $10.75; Foreign Board $3; Orphanage $2.10; 1st Sunday Preaching. [Florida Baptist Convention Annual]

Dec. 10-12, 1909. Pastor, S.S. Pickett, Tarpon Springs; Clerk, W.J. Baillie, Tarpon Springs; Baptisms 9; Erasures 6; Members 40; Visiting Ministers $50; PBA $2; Property $300. [Pasco Baptist Association]

Dec. 14, 1909. The place name “Elfers” comes into being with the establishment of a post office with that name.

1912. “In 1912, a new building, valued at $1,200, was constructed on Orange Street in Elfers. In 1913 the church was listed on the Associational records as the as Elfers Baptist Church.” (Source: Florida Cracker Days)

Sept. 11, 1913. Florida Baptist Witness has:

Dear Witness: Just closed a gracious meeting at Elfers, Fla.

Rev. G.A. Bryant is the pastor of the church. The church has been struggling along for sometime, just about dead spiritually. Some of them said we are not able to call a pastor, but “the remnant” said we will call a pastor if we have to pay all the salary; so they called Bro. Bryant and immediately the Lord began to bless them.

They are preparing to build them a new house at Elfers; the old church house is about a mile east of Elfers. The community is rapidly settling up.

It is a fine community with splendid soil for citrus fruit. Bro. Bryant has a fine hold on the church and community. He had the meeting in fine shape when I arrived Monday night and the interest was deep and genuine from the very start. The meeting closed Sunday night with the interest seemingly unabated.

Had one baptizing on Sunday afternoon, that night one more joined to be baptized. On Monday we went to the bay for a picnic, caught all the mullet we could eat. Had a fine time socially, and after lunch Brother Bryant baptized the one who joined the church Sunday night, and one left from Sunday, in “Trouble Creek,” which was changed to “Baptist Creek,” and as most of the church was there the church fellowship, on the shore of the Gulf of Mexico.

It was a glorious time. The people were filled with the Holy Spirit.

The church has more than doubled her membership in a month. The church Saturday night in conference, elected three brethren to the office of deacon: Brother Stevens, Ollie Brown, R.E. Baillie. These were ordained Sunday evening before the preaching service.

May the blessings of Jehovah be upon the church of His planting, and make them in deed and in truth “the light of the world

Fraternally, W.A. BURNS. Dade City, Fla.

1914. The history provided by the Elfers Baptist Church for the WPA survey has: “In 1914 this building was torn sold and torn down and the present white, rectangular frame building was erected ¼ mile east of Highway 19 in Elfers.”

June 11, 1914. Florida Baptist Witness has:

Pasco Union Meeting

Dear Witness: The Pasco Union had the pleasure of meeting with Brother G.A. Bryant and his good people at Elfers. They have exchanged their old log house for a new well finished and furnished auditorium. Brother Bryant is only playing his universal role here, this is not the only church he has led into better surroundings. A.A. Keith

Nov. 6-8, 1914. Pastor, O.N. Williams, Dade City; Clerk, W.J. Baillie, Elfers; Messengers, J.J. Stephens, S.S. Brown, Sister Maud Blitch; Baptisms 3; Restoration 3; Letters -5; Expulsion 11; Death 16; Members 67; Pastor’s Salary $80; Incidentals $3; Visiting Ministers $42; Minutes $2; Missions $25; Property $1695; Meeting 1st Sunday; SS Superintendent, George Gaines, Elfers; Pupils 96; Teachers 9; Expenses $22.72; Missions/Benevolence $53.74; PBA $2; “Elfers church was selected as the home of the next Association, and Brother J.W. Gideon was elected to preach the Introductory Sermon.” [Pasco Baptist Association]

Nov. 9-11, 1916. Pastor, J.W. Tucker, Kathleen; Clerk, W.J. Baillie, Elfers; Messengers, J.J. Stephens, J.W. Tucker; Baptisms 2; Letters -1; Members 61; 1st Sunday; SS Superintendent, L.L. Anderson, Elfers; Expenses $4.28; Missions/Benevolence $11.32; Pastor’s Salary $129; Incidentals/Improving $8.80; PBA $2.05; FM $5; Orphans Home $1.90; Minutes/Clerk $2.40; Property $1500. [Pasco Baptist Association]

Dec. 14, 1916. Florida Baptist Witness has:

ELFERS

This place is not on many maps. But it is there all the same. It (is) just a sort of wide place in the road between Tarpon Springs and Aripeka but there are people there who are worth while. The small Baptist church house was only recently dedicated and freed from debt. The pastor is Rev. J.W. Tucker. These good people set themselves to secure a meeting of days to be held by the pastor and this editor. Their persuasion was irresistible, and we went direct from Dade City on Monday, Dec. 4, to Elfers, where we have been preaching from twice to thrice a day for a week. The attendance and attention of the people was beautiful. Many professed faith and there were eight additions. The last day perhaps twenty people pressed forward to ask to be remembered in prayer. The cause seemed to have been much strengthened by the meeting. A pleasing feature was inaugurated by the pastor, who distributed envelopes among the people requesting them to write a word to the visiting preacher, and also to enclose whatsoever their hearts might lead them to give to him in appreciation of his services. The results were surprising, as they gave most liberally considering their stress in paying for their church so recently, and the fewness of the membership.

The messages from those contributing were highly appreciated by the editor, and he will keep them as mementoes of a pleasant and spiritual meeting.

Several new subscribers also were added to the Witness list.

May many blessings abide with those excellent people.

Our home while at Elfers was with Mrs. Jack Brown. We say Mrs. Brown, for she was the one who did the work of taking care of the preacher, in which good work she was most cheerfully assisted by her noble husband.

Nov. 26, 1920. The Dade City Banner has:

WILL BUILD FINE CHURCH AT ELFERS

Baptists Plan Modern Church Edifice To Cost Approximately $10,000

Rev. A. E. Gammage, pastor of the local Baptist church, who leaves here the first of the year to take charge of the Elfers pastorate, has received plans for a proposed new church building to be erected between Elfers and New Port Richey. If the edifice is built according to the plans it will be one of the finest and most modern church buildings on the West Coast. Construction is to be of wood. The main auditorium, according to the plan, will seat 350 people and in addition there will be a number of classrooms and a study for the pastor.

Rev. Mr. Gammage has begun a campaign for funds and is meeting with much encouragement. It is estimated that the structure will cost about $10,000 and it is believed this amount can be raised through subscriptions.

The Baptist people of Elfers section are progressive and enterprising and it is believed that the new church, when completed, will be used for district Bible conferences and other important gatherings usually held only in the larger cities. The new church will be a credit to this section and to Pastor Gammage, who is mainly responsible for the ambitious plan to build such an edifice in his new field. Mr. Gammage is enthusiastic over the project and is fast enlisting the support of his friends here and elsewhere.—Tarpon Springs Leader.

1921. A newspaper article refers to Rev. A. E. Gammage, pastor of the Baptist church.

Nov. 11-12, 1921. Represented by Letter; Pastor, A.E. Gammage, Tarpon Springs; Clerk, J.R. Eikel, Elfers; Baptisms 4; Letters 2; Letters -10; Death -1; Members 131. 2nd and 4th Sundays; SS Superintendent, L.L. Anderson; Pupils 80; Teachers 6.

1922. “In 1922, while the Rev. R.C. Alderman was pastor, five new Sunday School rooms were added to the church building at a cost of $300.” (Florida Cracker Days)

Jan. 16, 1932. The St. Petersburg Evening Independent reports, “Revival services are being held at the Elfers Baptist church. The Rev. Mr. Leslie Smith is the preacher and Ed Vaughn, soloist. His daughter, Miss Mildred, is the pianist. The trio come from Sulphur Springs.”

Jan. 14-16, 1936. Pastor, A.E. Young; Members 138; Baptisms 2; SS Enrollment 66; BTU Enrollment 29; WMU Organizations 1; Pastor’s Salary $308.91; Raised for Home Expense, Including Building $580.89; Missions/Benevolence $33.71; Gifts $614.60;Property $2500. [Pasco Baptist Association]

Oct. 6-7, 1938. Pastor, A.E. Young; Clerk, Mrs. P.E. Raymond; SS Superintendent, R.V. Gaston; SS Enrollment 127; Average Attendance 85; WMU President, Mrs. P.E. Raymond; Women’s and Children’s Organizations 5; Women’s Gifts $63.64; Baptisms 23; Other 15; Members 173; Pastor’s Salary $583.47; CP $85.58; Expenses $864.59; Missions/Schools/Orphanage $170.53; Property $4000. [Pasco Baptist Association]

1939. All church records are destroyed when the home of Mrs. Sarah Raymond was burned, according to Florida Cracker Days.

Aug. 19, 1941. The St. Petersburg Evening Independent has:

Elfers Baptist Home-Coming Day Set Tomorrow

NEW PORT RICHEY, Aug. 19 - A home-coming service will be conducted at the Elfers Baptist church, one of the pioneer churches in Pasco county, tomorrow with a picnic dinner following the morning preaching service, and program and preaching service by some of the former pastors, during the afternoon. The occasion marks the 68th anniversary of the church. The present pastor, Rev. A.E. Young, came to the church in 1933, served for two and a half years and after an absence of a year and a half, returned to this church where he has been since that time.

Aug. 14, 1942. The St. Petersburg Evening Independent has:

Revival Services Close Tonight At Elfers Church

New Port Richey, Aug. 14 - The revival services at the First Baptist church of Elfers will close tonight. Rev. L.O. Calhoun, pastor of the First Baptist church, Ozona, will be the guest preacher at that time.

Next Sunday will be “Homecoming” day at the Baptist church in Elfers. The meeting will continue all day with a basket luncheon being enjoyed at the noon hour. Rev. A.E. Young, pastor, will preach in the morning, and a visiting minister will preach during the afternoon service. All friends are invited to attend.

The grounds of the Baptist church and parsonage at Elfers have been cleared in preparation for the proposed new extension which is being planned to be added to the parsonage. The room and porch will be 14 feet wide and extend the length of the house. Work will begin in the early fall.

Aug. 20, 1942. The St. Petersburg Evening Independent has:

Elfers Baptists Hold Homecoming Service Sunday

New Port Richey, Aug. 20 - The annual homecoming was held at the Elfers Baptist church last Sunday with a basket picnic following the morning sermon which was preached by the pastor, Rev. A.E. Young. A former pastor, Rev. T.E. York, preached the homecoming sermon in the afternoon and baptismal services followed at Seven Springs. There were a number of visitors from Tampa, Mt. Dora, Largo, Ozona, Dunedin and Dade City. Among those attending were the aged parents of Rev. Young, of Tampa.

The revival services recently held at the Baptist church in Elfers, have closed. Rev. L.O. Calhoun, Ozona, assisted the pastor, Rev. Young, in the final service last Friday night.

Nov. 4, 1943. Pastor, George T. Evans, Elfers; (“The moderator introduced Bro. George Evans, new pastor of the Elfers Church. . .appointed for a committee on memorials.”) (George Evans also gave CP, Hundred Thousand, Missions, and Memorials reports); Clerk, Mrs. Mable Stevens; Treasurer, Mrs. Ethel Stevens; Baptisms 5; Members 151; SS Superintendent, R.L. Burney; Enrollment 83; BTU Director, Calhoun Clark; BTU Organizations 4; WMU President, Mrs. Eva Harper; WMU Organizations 3; Tithers 25; Pastor’s Salary $1137.81; Expenses $506.21; CP $70.84; Designated $44.76; All Contributions $1759.62; Property $4500. [Pasco Baptist Association]

1944. “In 1944 the [Methodist church] building was leased for a year to be used as a Baptist Church and was then sold to the Baptists. The parish has prospered as is now known as the First Baptist Church of Elfers.”—West Pasco’s Heritage


The Church Splits into Two Baptist Churches

First Missionary Baptist Church, Easter Sunday, 1945.
This building was also the Methodist church at times. larger picture

In 1945, there became two Baptist churches in Elfers.

May 4, 1945. The New Port Richey Press reports: “The First Missionary Baptist church in executive meeting voted unanimously to invite the pastors and deacons of the Pasco Baptist association to meet with the church on May 10 to assist in matters of importance. There was a goodly number in attendance at both Sunday school and preaching at the First Missionary Baptist church Sunday morning. The sermon by the pastor, Rev. A. J. Wacaster, was both interesting and edifying.”

May 18, 1945. The New Port Richey Press reports:

Mother’s Day was fittingly observed at the Missionary Baptist church with a special service by the pastor, Rev. A. J. Wacaster.

A lovely quartet was very ably rendered by Mesdames Gause and Raymond and Misses Carol Baillie and Mamie Jean Harper, accompanied by Mrs. David Baillie.

A petition circulated by the Missionary Baptist church and presented to the Pasco county association, requesting it to assist in bringing about unity in the local community between factions. It was gratifying to find 80 percent of the people of Baptist persuasion signed the petition which brought together a delegation of brethren and representatives from one association.

The body was called into an executive meeting and after a satisfactory relation of the church it was found to be fully organized and orthodox in all principles and practices. The church desires to thank everyone who assisted in bringing about Christian understanding. The pastor, Rev. A. J. Wacaster, has been a fully ordained minister of the Gospel for 31 years, having served various churches in this state and also in N. C. and S. C. Rev. Wacaster had retired from active ministerial work about 5 years ago, but owing to the urgent need of ministers, caused by the war, he was drafted back into the service when the church called him last October. Rev. Wacaster is also a Spanish War veteran and a veteran of Foreign Wars.

(Elfers) July 27, 1945. The New Port Richey Press reports that Elfers Baptist church pastor, Rev. George T. Evans, invites the public to a revival to be conducted by Rev. P. R. (Pat) Wimberly.

(Elfers) Aug. 17, 1945. The New Port Richey Press reports that a revival is continuing at the Elfers Baptist Church.

(Elfers) Aug. 21, 1945. The St. Petersburg Independent has:

Revival Services Come to Close At New Port Richey

New Port Richey, Aug. 21 - The revival services that have been held at the Elfers Baptist church during the past two weeks, conducted by Rev. Pat Wimberly, Baptist state evangelist, came to a close Sunday with the annual Old Home day celebration. Dinner was served on the church grounds, with a prayer and song service taking place in the afternoon. Later in the afternoon, baptismal service were held at Seven Springs, with George T. Evans, pastor, performing the ordinance of baptism. The evening message was delivered by the pastor, subject, “A Secret Truth.”

(Anclote) Aug. 24, 1945. The New Port Richey Press reports that the regular missionary program meeting for August was held at Anclote Baptist Church in Elfers on Tuesday. It also reports, “Services were held last Wednesday at ten o’clock at the Anclote Baptist church, giving thanks and praise for the victory over Japan.”

(Anclote) Sept. 14, 1945. The New Port Richey Press reports, “The Anclote Baptist Sunday school reached their goal of 75 in Sunday school last Sunday with 77 present so the officers and teachers are entertaining the entire school Friday night with an ice cream social.”

(Elfers) Sept. 21, 1945. The New Port Richey Press reports, “The Elfers Baptist Church entertained last Wednesday evening after the Prayer Meeting hours with an ice cream supper honoring one of their members, Pvt. James Russ.”

First Missionary Baptist Church, Oct. 1945 larger picture

(Anclote) Oct. 10-11, 1945. “The Anclote Baptist Church of Elfers was accepted into the Pasco Baptist Association.” (Page 3); Pastor, E.E. Haney, Port Richey; SS Superintendent, W.G. Raymond, Elfers; BTU Director, J.C. Clark, Elfers; WMS President, Mrs. C.E. Harper, Elfers; Clerk, R.L. Burney, Elfers; Treasurer, Chas. C. Gause, Tarpon Springs; Constituted 1944; Baptisms 6; Membership 57; Revivals 1; Lord’s Supper 4; State Paper Families 16; SS Enrollment 95; Number of Training Unions 4; Enrolled 50; Women’s and Children’s Organizations 3; Women’s Contributions $158.34; Pastor’s Salary $321.20; Expenses $729.76; CP $12.25; Missions Total $158.34;

(Elfers) Oct. 10-11, 1945. Pastor, G.T. Evans, Elfers; SS Superintendent, Chas. S. Stephens, Elfers; BTU Director, A.B. Townsend, Elfers; WMS President, Mrs. R.L. Moore, Elfers; Brotherhood, Chas. S. Stephens; Clerk (listed as Elfers First), Mrs. Florence Townsend, Elfers; Treasurer, Mrs. Ethel Stephens; Christian Literature Report by Geo. T. Evans, Pastor Elfers Baptist Church; Constituted 1896; Baptisms 19; Membership 92 (19 N-R); Revivals 3; Lord’s Supper 4; State Paper Families 6; SS Enrollment 62; VBS Enrollment 23; Average Attendance 20; Baptist Training Unions 4; Enrolled 42; Women’s and Children’s Organizations 4; Women’s Contributions $86.45; Church House/Grounds $2500; Pastor’s Home $2000; All Property $4500; Pastor’s Salary $1325; Expenses $2634.43; Missions Total $243.45; Tithers 20.

(Anclote) Feb. 3, 1947. The St. Petersburg Evening Independent has:

Special Services Mark Dedication of Elfers Church

ELFERS - The Anclote Baptist church of Elfers held its dedication services Sunday, Jan. 26, with a large attendance of about 400 people. Twelve visiting pastors were also in attendance.

Special quartets, solos, and duets were sung by those from Tampa, Dade City, Dunedin and local people

Following the preaching service during the morning, when Rev. J.H. Hamilton preached the sermon, a basket dinner was enjoyed by the gathering.

Rev. H.T. Burnette of Lutz gave the invocation; Rev. J.R. Thorp of Tampa, the dedication prayer; Rev. E.S. Haney of Bushnell preached the sermon during the afternoon service and the benediction was given by Rev. A.J. Hoolsema, of New Port Richey Baptist church.

(Anclote) July 22, 1947. The St. Petersburg Evening Independent reports, “The Anclote Baptist church of Elfers has begun a ten-day revival, with Rev. Elwood Rawls of the Spencer Memorial Baptist church, Tampa, as visiting evangelist. Rev. Clifford Hoolsema of the Carrolton Avenue Baptist church, New Orleans, La., will be in charge of the music and be the soloist.”

(Anclote) Oct. 28-29, 1947. Pastor, V.E. Cox, Elfers; Clerk, Arthur L. Baker; SS Superintendent, Merrel Baker; Treasurer, Arthur L. Baker; TU Director, R.E. Baillie, WMS President, Mrs. C.E. Harper; Messengers, R.E. Baillie, Calhoun Clark, Mrs. C.E. Harper, Mrs. Alex Cannon; “New pastors introduced ... Rev. V.E. Cox, Anclote, Elfers” (Page 10/Item 4); Baptisms 35; Other 14; Membership 133; Revivals 1; SS Enrollment 122; BTU Enrollment 79; WMU Enrollment 76; Brotherhood Enrollment 20; Church Property $10,000; Building Funds On Hand $674.08; Pastor’s Salary $1945; Expenses $3477.25; CP $305.31;All Missions $379.28; All Gifts $3856.53.

(Elfers) Oct. 28-29, 1947. “Motion was made and adopted that the Elfers Baptist Church, upon their request, be granted a letter of dismissal from the Pasco Baptist Association, that they might unite with the Pinellas Association. The clerk was instructed to write a letter of transfer. ... The Elfers church sent a request to the executive committee some months ago for a letter of dismission to unite with the Pinellas Association. Your committee passes the request on to the association for action.”

Oct. 4-5, 1948. Pastor, H.M. Wright, Elfers; Clerk, Mrs. Alma Burney, Elfers; SS Superintendent, J.M. Hill, Tarpon Springs; Treasurer, Mrs. Jim Hill, Tarpon Springs; TU Director, Alex Cannon, Tarpon Springs; WMS President, Mrs. Ruby Gause, Tarpon Springs; Brotherhood President, P.J. Baillie, Elfers; WMS President, Mrs. C. Gause; PBA WMU President, Mrs. H.M. Wright; PBA Brotherhood President, P.J. Baillie recommended/adopted (Page 12); PBA Budget Gift $5; Memorials, Mr. J.M. Baillie, Mr. T.J. Hill (Deacon), Mr. David Hogan; Members 142; Baptisms 14; Letters 10; Losses 16; SS Enrollment 115; Pastor’s Salary $1957.50; Expenses $4424.15; CP $189.25; Designated $207.14; All Gifts $4820.54.

1949. “In 1949, the church records were destroyed by fire.” (Source: History, Westside Baptist Church; Published 1995 Pasco Baptist Association Minutes)

Oct. 13, 1950. The New Port Richey Press reports, “The Anclote Baptist church has completed an addition to the church as a Sunday school. Baptism was held for 15 persons of the church at Anclote river.”

Oct. 9-10, 1951. Pastor, Rev. E.L. Buzbee, Elfers (PBA Music Director, Brotherhood, Resolutions, West Side Evangelistic Committee); Clerk, John T. Baker, Jr., Elfers; SS Superintendent, Charles Butler, Tarpon Springs; Treasurer, Roy Butler, Tarpon Springs; Messengers, Mrs. J.D. Raussum, Mrs. Melvin Harper, R.T. Burney, Mrs. C.I. Gause, Mrs. Roy Butler, Mrs. Edith Snyder, Billy Harper, M/M P.J. Baillie, Rev. E.L. Buzbee, Gussie Cannon, Johnnie Baker, Mrs. T.L. Daviston, Mrs. J.A. Burney; “Resolved - that we welcome the new pastors . . . Anclote, Brother E.L. Buzbee . . .” (Page 19); Baptisms 24; Membership 166; SS enrollment 140; VBS Enrollment 86; TU Enrollment 77; Average Attendance 68; WMU Enrollment 37; Brotherhood Enrollment 18; Property $10,000; Receipts $6261; Pastor’s Salary $2851; CP $555.06; Missions $58.


Elfers Baptist Churches Effect Merger

This article appeared in the New Port Richey Press on June 20, 1952. The merger apparently did not occur or did not last very long.

For the past seven years there did exist in Elfers, two Baptist Churches. The two being located on the same street in the same block, were known as the Anclote Baptist Church and the Elfers Baptist Church. The Anclote church was affiliated with the Pasco association and the Elfers church in the Pinellas association.

On December 1, 1951, at the close of the Sunday school hour, the Anclote church, under the leadership of their pastor, Rev. E. L. Buzby, went in a body to the Elfers church. After the two congregations were happily seated together, order was called by the Elfers pastor, Rev. R. C. Burns. At which time, all who were present, expressed the desire, by a standing vote, for the two churches to become one. Extreme joy sprang from the hearts of all, while they joined hands, and marched up and down the streets, singing “Blest Be the Tie That Binds Our Hearts in Christian Love.”

On Sunday afternoon, Feb. 10, 1952, the consolidated group met and organized a new church. “The First Baptist Church,” Elfers, Fla. Visiting ministers and deacons who had a part in the reorganizing were as follows: Rev. B. D. Locke, Ocala; Rev. Don Seitman, Tarpon Springs; Rev. Warren Nubern, Odessa; Rev. Kenneth Thompson, Citra Park; Bro. Alex Cannon, Anclote; Bro. Floyd McCullom, Anclote; Bro. Charles Stephens, Tarpon Springs; and Bro. Phil Anderson, Odessa.

On Wednesday night, March 19, the new organization met and extended a unanimous call for Rev. J. R. Vassar, of Summerfield, Fla., to be their pastor. He has accepted, and is now at work in the field. “Let brotherly love continue,” Heb. 13:1.


1952-2017 — Elfers Missionary Baptist Church/Westside Baptist Church

Oct. 17, 1952. A church directory has: First Missionary Baptist Church, Elfers, pastor Jack Martin.

July 10, 1953. A photograph in the New Port Richey Press has the caption: “This is a picture of the Vacation Bible School, First Missionary Baptist Church. It is the largest class ever held at this Church, since it was organized in 1876. Total enrollment of 72 and the average attendance was 56 for the 10 days. Mrs. J. R. Martin was the principal. The faculty were Mrs. R. L. Moore, Mrs. Pitman, Mrs. Carl Dingman, Mrs. Jerry Swan, Mrs. Tom Herndon, Mrs. Lucy Baillie, Mrs. Mark Anderson, Miss Murlie Herndon, Mr. Fred Townsend, Rev. Martin. There were eight decisions for Christ. The transportation committee included Mrs. V. Adamek, Mrs. Gerald Baillie, Mrs. Lester Edenfield, Mrs. Lois Edster.”

Aug. 3, 1953. A church directory has: First Missionary Baptist Church of Elfers, pastor J. R. Martin. “Friends, we invite you to come worship with us each and every service. We don’t have a big choir with robes but we guarantee that you will know that you have been to church, not to some opera house, after singing the good old songs that have thrilled the hearts of young and old for many years.”

Jan. 13, 1955. A church directory has: First Missionary Baptist Church of Elfers, pastor Jack Martin.

Dec. 5, 1957. A church directory has: First Missionary Baptist Church of Elfers, pastor Rev. W. W. Lavender, organized 1876.

Aug. 17, 1961. A church directory has: First Missionary Baptist Church of Elfers, pastor Rev. W. W. Lavender.

Nov. 23, 1961. The New Port Richey Press reports: “Rev. John W. Parkes has accepted a unanimous call to the pastorate of First Missionary Baptist Church of Elfers and assumed his new duties last Sunday, preaching at both morning and evening services. ... While there are two Southern Baptist churches in Elfers, First Missionary is the original Baptist Church there, and numbers among its pastors in past years Rev. Ralph Bellwood and later Rev. Ralph Acree, now pastor of First Baptist Church of this city.”

Dec. 28, 1961. A church directory has: Elfers Baptist Church, pastor John W. Parkes.

Jan. 17, 1963. A church directory has: Elfers Baptist Church, pastor Jack Martin.

Nov. 14, 1963. West Pasco’s Heritage has: “The Elfers Baptist Church building was sold to Mr. and Mrs. Douglas when the church voted to move to a new location on Trouble Creek Road November 14, 1963.”


Groundbreaking for the church on Trouble Creek Rd., May 1964. St. Petersburg Times photo with this caption: “Ground-breaking services for a new church were held Sunday by Elfers Baptist Church. The new facility will be built on about two acres of ground on Trouble Creek Road between U. S. 19 and Alt. 19. Construction is to begin immediately on the church sanctuary, which will be 37 by 85 feet and foundations will be poured for two educational wings to be built later. Principals in the service were Mrs. Emma Pittman and W. J. Baillie, two of the oldest members of the church, in the foreground. Church officials participating were from left: The Rev. G. E. Tadlock, moderator of the Pasco Baptist Association; the Rev. John Parkes, Orange Heights Baptist Chapel, New Port Richey; the Rev. Lamar J. Brooks, First Baptist Church Dade City; the Rev. Jack Martin (with shovel) of Elfers Baptist Church; the Rev. Wilton A. Porter, First Baptist Church, Elfers; the Rev. Warren Capell, Northeast Baptist Church, Dade City; and the Rev. Amon Powell. St. Petersburg.”

New church under construction on Trouble Creek Rd., Nov. 1964 larger picture
This building is now Michels & Lundquist Funeral Home at 5228 Trouble Creek Rd.

Nov. 15, 1964. The first service in the new building on Trouble Creek Road is held, according to Florida Cracker Days.

Oct. 21-22, 1965. The church is listed for the first time as Westside Baptist Church in Pasco Baptist Association records.

Nov. 24, 1973. The St. Petersburg Times has:

Evangelist Will Conduct Services At Old Baptist Church In Elfers

ELFERS — Evangelistic services will be conducted Sunday Nov. 25, through Friday, Nov. 30, at the old West Side Baptist Church in Elfers by Evangelist Dean Price of Augusta, Kan.

Rev. Jack Martin, pastor of West Side, announced that the services will be at 7:30 p.m. week nights and at 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Sunday, and invites the public to attend.

The evangelist’s two daughters, Lynn, the wife of Rev. Don Kennedy, assistant pastor of a church in Augusta and Joy, the wife of Rev. Donald Williams, pastor in Alabaster, Ala., will be here to participate in the services.

Rev. Price, who has conducted many gospel choirs, will provide special music by his family and will also organize a choir of members of the Elfers church to sing during the evangelistic services.

West Side Baptist Church is one of the oldest churches in this section of Florida having been organized in 1876 on the site where the West Elfers Cemetery is now located.

It is the second oldest Baptist Church in the Pinellas and Pasco County area. Calvary in Clearwater is the oldest.

The church is a member of the Pasco Baptist Association.

July 13, 1974. The St. Petersburg Times has:

Rev. Martin marks 12th year at church

ELFERS — Sunday will mark Rev. Jack Martin’s 12the year as pastor of Westside Baptist Church in Elfers.

At the 11 a.m. service Rev. Thomas Langley, superintendent of missions of the Pasco Baptist Association, will speak, and at 7:30 p.m. evangelist Gerald Young and family of Houston, Tex., will conduct the program.

Rev. Martin, who was listed in Who’s Who in Florida in 1973, has held a number of offices in the association including Sunday School director, Evangelism Committee chairman, member of the Missions Committee and moderator for two terms. He served for three years on the Florida Baptist State Board of Missions. He received an honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity from Simmons Theological Seminary.

Westside Baptist Church, founded in 1876, is the oldest Baptist Church in Pasco County. Under Pastor Martin’s leadership, a new plant has been erected, and about two years ago a mission was established north of State Road 52 in West Pasco County. This mission is now the First Baptist Church of Highland Forest with two buildings and a full-time pastor.

Rev. Young has conducted more than 200 revivals and crusades and has spent four years in full-time evangelism. He is an accomplished vocal soloist and pianist and has made two records, “Revival Time Songs” and “When Christ Shall Come.”

He is staff evangelist at the First Baptist Church, Houston, Tex. A ventriloquist, he will present programs using his dummies, “Tommy” and “Tom and Jerry,” to the young people and children. His son, Danny Young, will have charge of a musical program to be presented by the Young family.

Special music will be provided by Westside’s “The Favorite Five:” Deanna Holloway, Dorothy Cummings, Edna Dickey, Patsy Cruea and Judy Plamondon.

Special services will continue through the week at 10 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. A nursery will be provided for the children.

Nov. 1985. Records show that William Houck is the pastor. He served until June 1988.

June 1988. Thomas Buck becomes pastor interim pastor. He served until August 1989.

Aug. 5, 1989. The St. Petersburg Times reports that Rev. Gary Haygood is the new pastor of Westside Baptist Church, 5228 Trouble Creek Road. Rev. Buck is leaving for the Dallas Theological Seminary.

Sept. 23, 2000. The St. Petersburg Times reports: “Westside Baptist Church, 5228 Trouble Creek Road, will hold a special service at 11 a.m. Sunday to celebrate the final service in its current facility, which has been used since 1965. The family of former pastor Jack Martin will be honored for his 27 years of ministry. Former members or anyone wishing to pay tribute to Pastor Martin are welcome to attend. A special offering will be taken for a memorial to Pastor Martin in the church’s new building. The church also will hold a picnic at 5 p.m. Sunday at Starkey Park, pavilion A, for all members and guests. Westside will be holding services at Seven Springs Middle School beginning Oct. 1 while construction on the new facility on Perrine Road begins. For information, call (727) 848-6720.”

Sept. 1, 2001. The Tampa Tribune has:

Church Prepares for 125th Anniversary

NEW PORT RICHEY — Founded in November 1876, Riverside Fellowship will celebrate its 125th anniversary in November with groundbreaking for a new building on Perrine Ranch Road.

The congregation first met at a Baptist church on the site of the Elfers Cemetery, then moved to a building on Trouble Creek Road. Currently, services are held at Seven Springs Middle School.

Born and raised in Elizabethton, Tenn., Tom Buck has led the congregation as senior pastor since March 1994. He served as youth minister at the church from 1987-89.

Buck studied for the ministry at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and at Dallas theological Seminary.

He has served as interim pastor at Biltmore Baptist Church in Elizabethton and as assistant pastor at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Dallas.

“Ours is a purpose-driven church, reaching people through Jesus Christ,” Buck said of Riverside Fellowship. “We focus on the message of grace and sufficiency of Christ alone in our daily living.”

Riverside, associated with the Southern Baptist Convention, sends missionaries on worldwide trips throughout the year. The congregation also sponsors a welcome newcomer program. This year, newcomers to the area will get gourmet coffee and a mug.

The church’s main focus is on its small group ministry that meets in people’s homes throughout the week for Bible study and discussion.

A men’s Bible study also is available, along with a men’s softball program. Women of Wisdom, for stay-at-home mothers, meets weekly at Seven Springs Presbyterian Church.

Youth groups include Riverside Kids for those younger than middle school age; Club 180 for middle schoolers, and Club Impact for high schoolers.

Where: Meets at Seven Springs Middle School, 2441 Little Road, New Port Richey. Services: 9 and 11 a.m. Sundays. Call (727)375-1373. Caption: Pastor Tom Buck of Riverside Fellowship Church is backed by a rendering of the new worship center. Ground will be broken in November.

In 2009 about 100-150 Riverside members founded Cornerstone Community Church of Pasco County.


1952-2017 — First Baptist Church of Elfers

Aug. 15, 1952. The New Port Richey Press reports, “Revival services begin at Elfers, in the old Methodist building, ‘First Baptist Church’ is starting this Sunday, August 17, and running through Sunday, August 24. ... Rev. J. [James] R. Vasser is the pastor.”

Oct. 17, 1952. A church directory has Rev. J. R. Vasser, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Elfers.

July 3, 1953. A church directory has: First Baptist Church of Elfers, pastor J. R. Vasser, “An independent Baptist Church, enjoying the advantage of working with all other independent Baptist Churches, through the Florida Baptist Convention, and the Southern Baptist Convention.” (The same listing occurs on Sept. 17.)

Jan. 13, 1955. A church directory has: First Baptist Church of Elfers, pastor (newly appointed) Rev. Marvin P. Kolb. A brochure from about this period advertising the church is here.

Dec. 28, 1957. A church directory has: First Baptist Church of Elfers, pastor Rev. Len Spotts.

Aug. 17, 1961. First Baptist Church of Elfers, pastor Rev. Len Spotts.

March 28, 1963. First Baptist Church of Elfers, pastor Rev. Wilton Porter.

March 4, 1965. This photo from the New Port Richey Press of March 4, 1965, shows the groundbreaking for the new church. The caption reads, “First Baptist Church of Elfers held groundbreaking ceremonies for its new $30,000 sanctuary last Sunday afternoon at the site on Orange and Pine Street, with the above dignitaries on hand for the occasion. They are, front row (with shovels) from left: G. H. Hicks, chairman of the planning committee, and Charles Gause, chairman of the building committee. Back row, from left: the Rev. Arthur Nelson, pastor First Baptist Church, Ozona, principal speaker; the Rev. Ralph W. Acree, pastor, First Baptist Church, NPR; J. A. Wiggins; the Rev. Wilton A. Porter, pastor, First Baptist Church, Elfers; John Earl Larson, builder; and Newton Butler, chairman of Deacons.”


Steeple going up on the First Baptist Church of Elfers, June 21, 1965.


This photo appeared in the St. Petersburg Times on July 8, 1965, with the following caption: “The new sanctuary of the First Baptist Church of Elfers was dedicated Sunday, July 11th. The new building is located on church property adjoining the site of the old building built in 1918 on Pine Street. The Rev. Wilton Porter is pastor of the church, which has a resident membership of 165. John Earl Larson, New Port Richey builder, was the contractor and the cost of the building was about $35,000.” Photo by Ruby Carley. larger photo


July 15, 1965. This photo appeared in the New Port Richey Press of July 15, 1965, showing the dedication of the new sanctuary. The caption reads, “The above group of dignitaries were prominent figures at last Sunday’s dedication of the First Baptist Church of Elfers’ new sanctuary, located at the corner of Orange and Pine Streets. Shown standing behind a beautiful bouquet of flowers and the pulpit are, from left: G. H. Hicks, chairman of the church planning committee; C. I. Gause, chairman of the building committee; the Rev. Wilton A Porter, pastor; the Rev. Don Sietman, pastor of the North East Park Baptist Church of St. Petersburg and featured speaker; the Rev. Frank Armstrong, field secretary of the Florida Baptist Convention; and Dr. John Price, featured speaker at the evening service. General contractor was John Earl Larson of New Port Richey.”

Jan. 9, 1969. A church directory shows Rev. Charles R. Etherton as pastor.

Sept. 2011. Rev. Jim Prose is appointed senior pastor. (He had served as associate pastor from 1994 to 1998. Since 1998, he had been pastor of First Baptist Church of Keystone Heights, Florida.)

Jan. 1, 2017. On Jan. 1, 2017, the church website showed that Jim Prose was Senior Pastor, Charlie Jones was Music Pastor, and Bryan Kowal was Student Pastor.


The 1965 church building, now used for offices. It is adjacent to the newer church building. 2017 photo.


First Baptist Church, 2017.

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