Our History

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Early Years

First Baptist Church of Brooksville has a rich history which spans over 160 years.  The early years In the mid-1800’s, shortly after Florida became a state, a small group of pioneers organized a Baptist Church in Hernando County.  This congregation of 20 members probably gathered in a small log building to worship God.  Struggling against many hardships, including the Seminole Wars, these early settlers continued to worship and serve God. 

             

Meanwhile, Union Baptist Church was constituted in Pierceville.  It is believed that the smaller, original church was absorbed into Union Baptist Church.   In 1855, the Hale and Mays families donated several acres of land for a town.  Mr. Hale also donated 1 acre to the Baptist Church, and a large church building was constructed. The first preacher was Dr. James Henry Breaker, called here in 1856. Hardships still prevailed, and at times Indian raids interrupted the meetings. Despite difficult financial times, the members regularly contributed money, not only for local ministries, but also to missionaries around the globe, thus fulfilling Jesus’ command to

“Carry the Word throughout the world”.

The Lord allowed a revival that spread across the community and the church body gained many new members.  A private school was held in the church, but many of the young men volunteered for service during the Civil War, and the school was closed a few years later.
 

The membership grew so rapidly that construction began on a new church in 1884. The name was officially changed to First Baptist Church of Brooksville in 1889.  Later in the year, a severe storm destroyed many Brooksville buildings and the Baptist church shared their facilities with the Methodists, whose church had been destroyed.

Fire seemed to be a huge problem during the early days of Brooksville.  Most buildings were wooden, and quite often fires would spread through entire blocks of buildings. In 1899 FBC lost its sanctuary in one of these fires.  Even with this loss, The Florida Baptist Witness reported that the members continued to contribute generously to missionaries.  

 
             First Baptist Church  
 

The 1900’s

The new century began with plans for a new church building – this time with brick – and construction was begun. It was expected to be completed in September of that year. Brick was a smart move since another huge fire destroyed many buildings in downtown Brooksville several years later.   A new pastorium was finished in 1908, complete with a fence to keep the free-roaming cattle from destroying the gardens.

 A Young People’s Union was established in 1909 and became quite active. Study courses were held each week, and many members consecrated their lives to God. As the century progressed, the young people contributed more and more services to the community and the church. The Junior Girls organization made gifts for the soldiers during the war.  In 1941 a Young People’s Choir was organized, which became very popular with the church youth. Groups of young people spent Sunday afternoons visiting hospitals, shut-ins, and the jail, to sing songs, and read scripture.  These musical beginnings grew into several youth choirs, one of which became the Tour Choir.  They toured around many cities – even Washington DC, where they sang at the Pentagon and the Washington Cathedral – bringing the Lord’s music to the multitudes. Six young men were selected as Junior Deacons, and helped with collections, and ushering.   The youth also organized several revivals.  Adrian Rogers, a young man himself in 1953, was the preacher at one of these.  The youth band led the music on many Sunday evening services.

The church membership continued to contribute generously to the Florida Children’s Home and missions.   The Woman’s Missionary Union held monthly meetings where they learned about the Baptist missionaries serving around the world. Through the many mission courses and training offered, a fair number of the younger members became very interested in becoming missionaries.  Some of them still serve around the world today.

A variety of activities helped draw more people to the church. Vacation Bible School was begun in 1933,various musical and patriotic programs were held with not only the adults, but also the young people participating. Christmas Carols were sung around the Courthouse, Easter Sunrise services were held at Chinsegut in cooperation with several other churches. In another cooperative effort with several churches a “Go to Church” movement was begun. It was a drive to get as many residents as possible to attend a church each Sunday. A radio ministry was begun and the Sunday morning service was broadcast on WWJB. These broadcasts are welcomed by the home-bound, and bring the Lord’s message to others who may not attend regular church services. Large revivals were held periodically, and many members were added to the church.  

In 1958 FBC sponsored its first “Plant Church”.  Masaryktown Baptist Chapel was begun, which eventually became First Baptist Church of Masaryktown. Another “Plant Church was planned in 1978 when the church voted to begin Spring Hill Mission.  This grew into Northcliffe Baptist Church, which is now a large, thriving church, continuing to spread the gospel. 

 

As the church body grew, it became evident that the existing facilities were no longer adequate. Plans to build a new church surfaced in 1968, but didn’t materialize due to the size of the building site.  Several years later The Hernando School Board offered a property for sale on Howell Ave. FBC decided to purchase the property, complete with several of the original school buildings. A new sanctuary was planned for the front of the property, and was begun in 1973.  The beautiful stained-glass windows from the Jefferson Street building were moved to the new Sanctuary, thus combining some of the old with the new.  The additional space allowed the ministry of Helping Hands to begin with both a food pantry and a clothes closet.  In a joint effort with several other churches, food, clothing, school supplies, and toys were given to thousands of needy families. Food and needed items have also been delivered to migrant camps.

Recent Years

FBC continues to give generously to local, national and international missions.  Members have not only donated money, but also their time at nursing homes, hospitals, and rehabilitative facilities.  We have donated hundreds of boxes of items to “Operation Christmas Child”, who distribute these boxes throughout the world, along with booklets about Jesus. A small bell choir has brought both music and a message to several nursing homes. Buckets of food were shipped to Haiti after the earthquake, and help was sent to a number of cities after hurricanes. A generous donation was sent to our missionaries in Japan to help feed people after the recent earthquake.   Donations continue to be made to New Beginnings, a local ministry for unwed mothers. The Clothes Closet continues to give clothing and school supplies to needy families.  A team of both youth and adults traveled to Ecuador and worked on an orphanage building, plus ministered to the children. The youth have also participated in various “Service” days around the community, where they have painted or repaired buildings. A ministry to Hernando High School’s football team was begun, in which full dinners were served to the team prior to games, after which the gospel was presented. Meals have been delivered to shut-ins. Cantatas with dramas have been presented at various holidays to help spread the wonderful news of Jesus.

Throughout the years, numerous adverse events such as the Civil War, World Wars, economic downturns, fires, storms, and internal disputes have hit the church.  Satan always has us in his target site.  However, the faithful have continued to pray.  The Lord heard us, and helped us.  First Baptist continues to pray fervently, and to serve Him. God will continue to help us as long as we remain faithful to Him.