About our Church History
FIRST UNITED METHODIST CHURCH OF TARPON SPRINGS
In writing the Historical Highlights of the Methodist Church, it is necessary to go back to the very beginning of Methodism in Tarpon Springs. The First Methodist Church was organized in 1898 and the official name of this church was the TRINITY METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH. However, among the members and also others in the community it was called the Trinity Methodist church North, or simply Trinity Methodist Church. Hereafter for relating these highlights it will be referred to as the TRINITY METHODIST CHURCH.
Soon there were new people coming into town, many of whom were members of the Methodist Episcopal Church South in some other city or state, and sometime in the early 1900’s a group withdrew from the Trinity Methodist Church and joined with the newcomers to establish the Methodist Episcopal Church South. Thereafter, among the local people at that time the Trinity Methodist Church was known as the NORTHERN METHODIST and the Methodist Episcopal Church South was known as the SOUTHERN METHODIST.
The two churches were in different Conferences, the Trinity Methodist in the St. John’s Conference of North Florida, and the Methodist Episcopal Church South in the South Florida Conference. Each church held its Annual Conference in the month of June and the Ministers for each church were appointed at that time to serve the ensuing year. THE FAITH CHAPEL, as it is known today, evolved from these two early churches.
Records of the charter members of the Trinity Church seem to have been lost, and the records of the Methodist Episcopal Church South do not reveal its charter members, but two known members were Mrs. Ella Hope Thompson (later Mrs. Harry McCreary) and Mrs. T. Ricketts Cowsert. (Information regarding these two members was furnished by Mrs. Margaret Thompson Jukes, a native of this area). Members of the Hope family were very active in this church and played an important part in getting it established. Fleda Hope Vinson, a lovely Christian lady, was of this family and her dedication to God and loyalty in the church is still seen today through her son, L. E. (Gene) Vinson and his family.
There were many dedicated and consecrated Christians in each church and it seems only proper to mention some of these individuals, for certainly it is the individual members of the body of a church that make it truly a church of God—individuals who played an important part in helping the churches through a period of time when the congregations were small, money was short and hardships were many, including what is generally know as the “Depression Years.” Only by DEDICATION, PRAYERS, FAITH, and the LOVE and GRACE of our HEAVENLY FATHER were these churches able to survive.
The early pioneers of the TRINITY METHODIST CHURCH were composed largely of dedicated Christians from the northern states who had come into the area with a desire to establish homes and a place to worship. Among those early leaders were the Reverend Selden Currier and his wife, Julia. They donated money, and, with the help of the congregation, a large wooden building with a bell tower was erected on the corner of Orange and Hibiscus Streets. Early leaders were the Reverend Skaftie, a school teacher, the Reverend Paul Rader and the Reverend J. P. Chippen who served until 1900.
In the Trinity Methodist Church, services were held Sunday morning, afternoon and evening, and a prayer meeting on Wednesday night. Sunday School classes were for all ages, very young children, intermediates, juniors, and older members. For more than twenty-five years the beloved Theodore Petzold was the Sunday School Superintendent. He took care of the church, conducted opening services for Sunday School, always brought flowers, kept the building heated in winter, helped to find trees at Christmas, and encouraged many young people to attend Sunday School and worship services.
A Sunday School class for older adults, the Berean Bible Class, was taught by Dr. A. P. Albaugh, one of the first doctors to practice in Tarpon Springs. The Sunshine Class for young girls was taught by Mrs. Webster Little, affectionately known as Miss Minnie.” Mr. Robert Pent taught a class for young married couples until 1927. Mrs. Leila King Vnson was also a teacher for many years. During the 1920’s Miss Hildreth Meyer (later Mrs. Esten Albaugh), and Mrs. Walter Topliff played the piano for church services. Mrs. Audie Albaugh was very active in all departments, as was Mr. Webster Little. During the 1920’s and 1920’s Mr. A. A. Edwards was the very efficient treasurer of the church and also taught a Sunday School class for many years. Mrs. John Heaney played both the piano and the organ during the 1930’s and continued her service to her Lord and to the church during the period of uniting the two churches in the year 1939.
Mrs.Iva Albaugh Lenfesty, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Albaugh, was an excellent musician and made it possible for this church to have one of the first, if not the first electronic organ in any church in Tarpon Springs, It was used for many years for worship services.
Mr. and Mrs. Granville E. Noblit gave much of their time and talents to the Trinity Church. Mrs. Eula Mai Noblit taught a Sunday School class for several years, was very active in the women’s organization, and fulfilled other needs in the church. She sponsored the first Mother-Daughter Banquet, an activity that became a tradition for a number of years.
Pastors of TRINITY METHODIST CHURCH were:
1898 Rev. Skaftie
Rev. Paul Rader
Rev. J. P. Chippen
1900 Rev. Joseph Antie
1910 Rev. George Northrop
1919-1923 Rev. Arthur Price
Rev. George Northrop (filled in for a short period of time)
1924-1925 Rev. Chester Nelson
1926-1930 Rev. Raymond Derr
1931-1932 Rev. Robert Witty
1932-1933 Rev. Perry B. James
1934-1937 Rev. R. E. Hiller
1938-1939 Rev. Martin R. Davis
Original METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH SOUTH