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Crawfordville Church Members Celebrate 40th Anniversary

posted on February 10, 2014, under Church by

by Linda Peters

Forest Lake Academy students who facilitated Bible studies and evangelistic meetings are pictured with Crawfordville, Fla., Church's founding members in the 1970s.

Forest Lake Academy students who facilitated Bible studies and evangelistic meetings are pictured with Crawfordville, Fla., Church’s founding members in the 1970s.

Forty-one years ago, a small group of dedicated young people from Forest Lake Academy (FLA) in Apopka made a commitment to reach Crawfordville, a sparsely populated community in Wakulla County with no Adventist presence. After graduating from FLA, eight students with a desire to share the Gospel put their formal education aside to work on the front lines before enrolling in college. Working in several places, they were especially inspired by Tallahassee Church member Calvin Pierce who had a deep desire to plant an Adventist church in Crawfordville.

With bold purpose, the students visited the local postmaster and were granted permission to place notices in the Post Office with an offer for free Bibles and Bible studies. In addition, they walked the dusty roads, witnessing door to door. Within a few weeks, this group of dedicated youth, known as Maranatha Kids, signed up 85 people for Bible studies.

With no Adventist church structure in Crawfordville, arrangements were quickly made to hold evangelistic meetings in a small building known today as the Crawfordville Women’s Club. At the end of the series conducted by Tallahassee Church Pastor Tom Whitsett and his family, there was an altar call where all in attendance came forward to dedicate their lives to the Lord. Next, the newly baptized members, along with the FLA students, focused their efforts to building a new place of worship.

Founding members of Crawfordville, Fla., Church broke ground for their church building in 1974.

Founding members of Crawfordville, Fla., Church broke ground for their church building in 1974.

With this small group of dedicated pioneers, construction on Crawfordville Church began in March 1974. By February 1975, Crawfordville Company, sponsored by Tallahassee Church, had officially organized into Crawfordville Seventh-day Adventist Church with approximately 38 charter members.

Recently, the congregation celebrated its 40th anniversary. Pastors and elders who helped grow the church community during the past 40 years were invited to participate in the reunion events.

Services began Friday evening with prayer, music, and testimony by Pastor Whitsett, Pastor Rus Aldridge, and FLA student sponsor Larry Stephens. Familiar faces from the past joined with current members to celebrate the miracle which started from humble beginnings. Following the service, members enjoyed an agape feast in the church fellowship hall.

Crawfordville, Fla., Church member Noi Carlton, seated, was the first person to respond to an altar call at the evangelistic series that spawned Crawfordville Church. Also pictured from left: former pastors Rus Aldridge and Joe Straub; Larry Stephens, Forest Lake Academy Bible teacher and sponsor of Maranatha Kids; Scott Cronin, current pastor; and Tom Whitsett, founding pastor. (Photo: Mike Carlton)

Crawfordville, Fla., Church member Noi Carlton, seated, was the first person to respond to an altar call at the evangelistic series that spawned Crawfordville Church. Also pictured from left: former pastors Rus Aldridge and Joe Straub; Larry Stephens, Forest Lake Academy Bible teacher and sponsor of Maranatha Kids; Scott Cronin, current pastor; and Tom Whitsett, founding pastor. (Photo: Mike Carlton)

The theme for the Sabbath morning service, It Takes a Community, featured worship leader Tom Whitsett reminiscing about the series of miracles that took place, starting with a group of young people who wanted to make a difference, a few local folks who offered much-needed help, and conference leadership that saw a great need and responded quickly. Following the anniversary morning service, the church offered a potluck luncheon at the Crawfordville Women’s Club.

That evening, attendees returned to the church for a concert—from beloved hymns to modern praise and worship music—provided by local members as well as special guests April Spicer and Jake Jacobs.

Looking back, Crawfordville Church members will always remember that small group of young people from Forest Lake Academy who responded by planting seeds many years ago. Reflecting on those who plant the seeds and don’t always see how God blesses the fruits of their labor, there is a glad reminder of a great reunion day when they will receive their thanks face to face.


1 Comment for this entry

  • Pastor George Whitsett

    I well remember my brother Pastor Tom Whitsett’s long hours spent not only in planting a church congregation but also actually building the church building in Crawfordville. Such a thrill to see the church is still going strong for the glory of God!

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