Linden Church of God

4309 County Road 772 ~ Webster, Florida 33597 ~ 352-793-4281

Rev. Leon Thomas succeeded Rev. Cannaster in November, 1932. During Brother Thomas’ tenure cupid was very busy and the fever of marriage caught on and Rev. Doyle Franklin and Alma Clark; and Rev. Frazier Rogers and Lois Thomas had a double wedding with Rev. J. M. Baldree returning from Zellwood, Florida to officiate. Daisy Black and Irwin Sparkman; Ruby Franklin and William Okla Farmer were united in Holy Matrimony on June 3, 1934 with Rev. Thomas Officiating in the old church on the hill across from Mrs. Althea Morgan’s residence. To add the icing to the cake, Jay E. Farmer and Clarice Rogers; Robert A. Carlisle and Bonnie Fay Rogers were married in another double wedding garden ceremony on May 28, 1935 with Rev. Thomas officiating.

Sister Rhoda Thomas, pastor’s wife, shared several comments concerning their pastorate at Linden. She was impressed with the parsonage being near the church. The fast that it was a country church made

them happy. While serving as pastor, their little son was accidentally burned to death, but the Lord gave them another son. Sister Thomas said that on one occasion they had a need and prayed early in the morning. After their prayer, they went about the day’s work serving the Lord with joy and by night the Lord had answered their need. Sister Thomas quoted the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:19 “My God shall supply all of you needs according to his riches in Glory by Christ Jesus.” She added that she stands on that promise. She also recalled that the parsonage became a little crowded since their family of six shared two bedrooms. In summation, she stated that being a pastor’s wife at Linden Church of God was encouraging as they had such a good group of young people who were active workers in the church.

Following the General Assembly, October 6-12, 1934, which convened in Chattanooga, Tenn., Rev. W. H. Yates was assigned as Linden’s pastor. The tithes had increased by November 1934 to $42.62.

In November 1935, Rev. J. B. Camp was pastor and the Linden Church of God was moved from east of Linden Road on the hill to Lot 7, of the Roberts Addition located south of Highway 50 in Linden. Rev. Camp was given an offering of $2.50 for gas to carry several pigs to market, but things improved until in April 1936 he received $71.22 tithes.

Rev. Camp was succeeded by Rev. E. L. Newton in 1937. His first month’s tithes were $15.17 and in December rose to $70.24. September 1, 1937 shows the first light bill being paid. Thank the Lord for electric lights. In December 18, 1937, Rev. H. L. Chesser, who later became the General Overseer of the Churches of God, received an offering of 50 cents; of course, you must consider the average individual tithes back then was between $5.00 and $10.00 per month and many paid tithes in produce from their crops.

Rev. C. M. Phillips was pastor in January, 1939. During a regular conference January 1, 1939, a recommendation was made that the council stand against members gong to the football games, the fair, the picnic, and the Dade Massacre Picnic and any other “Worldly amusements.”

God blessed the efforts of these honest hearted Christians and it was along about this time that the attendance record was broken as indicated by the picture on opposite page ?.

Brother Phillips didn’t remain as pastor long and in November, 1939 his membership was transferred to Plant City, Florida, and Rev. J. B. Ellis became the pastor transferring in from the Church of god in Alabama City, Ala. During a conference, February 4, 1940, Brothers J. A. Franklin and Frazier Rogers were set forth as Deacons and Rev. J. B. Ellis was recommended for the office of Bishop. Rev. Vep Ellis conducted a singing school in September1940for an offering of $37.50. Although offerings were small, the Linden choir wasn’t, and all over the state this church was noted for its outstanding choir singing and musical talent. Rev. J. B. Ellis, pastor, received $76.99 for the Assembly of October, 1940 which convened in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Rev. Don V. Staten was assigned pastor in October 1941 and the record indicates tithes were $33.08 in July, 1942. Rev. Staten held a special meeting to purchase lots 1, 2, 3, and 4 of Block 4 of the Roberts Addition next to where the church was built. This land would later become the site for a new church building. Payments on the land were $38.42 annually. Tithes began improving until in July, 1944, Brother Staten received $408.12. In 1943, the quota system was in effect and records indicate Linden sent $103.00 to the state office. Brother Doyle Franklin conducted a revival in July, 1943 and his total offering was $64.83.

During one of Brother Staten’s last conversations about the church before his death, July 21, 1978, Rev. Milton T. Williams, recalls the following quote: “Yes, I planted these oaks over 25 years ago, but I didn’t expect them to stay here forever.” Some of the trees had to be removed because of rotting limbs and encroaching roots near the church building in the mid 1970’s. The only remaining oak is in front of the parsonage driveway. All others have been removed.

Rev. Paul Johnson was assigned as pastor to succeed Rev. Staten in September, 1944. Rev. Johnson’s first full month’s tithes were $126.15 and records indicate inconsistency in the tithes from month to month. No record was available for the latter part of 1944 to July 1947.

Other pastors who graced the pulpit of the Linden Church of God were Rev. Henry Corley and Rev. Carl Bryan, whose two sons, Ernest and Norris were called into the ministry and married Linden girls. Ernest married Betty Dias, and Norris married Annacile Hutto.

Under the leadership of Rev. W. O. Crews, construction of the new church building on Lots 2 and 3 of Block 4, was begun in 1953 and completed when Ernest Bryan was pastor in 1955. Brother Leroy Franklin recalls helping Brother Crews install five overhead fans [old barbershop type]. He said “They were sure heavy, but that beats a fan I the hand.”

Rev. Ernest Bryan was succeeded by Rev. R.P. Culpepper. Brother Giddens said he went to Brother Culpepper one day and said, “You know what we do with cull pepper around here?” Brother Culpepper said, “No”. Brother Giddens said, “We feed ‘em to the pigs.” Brother Culpepper said, “Well, you ain’t gonna feed me to the pigs.” They both had a good laugh. Brother E. P. Henderson followed Brother Culpepper, as pastor.

Membership reached its peak in the mid-fifties and the list included at least the name list on Page____.

From September of 1960 to July of 1964, Rev. V. G. Helms served as pastor. During this time, a new piano and stage curtains were purchased.

Rev. W. H. Langford served as pastor from August of 1964 to April of 1970. Accomplishments while he pastored included covering church floors with tile, purchasing new carpet, buying the church organ, tearing down the old church building and erecting the new Sunday School and fellowship building. During the demolition of the old church building a 50 cent piece was found in one of the walls which had been dropped by Maxie Williams, son of Brother and sister Vess Williams, when but a small lad. What a keepsake!

Rev. John R. Miller, Jr., pastored the church from May, 1970 to May, 1973. During this time the old parsonage was sold and moved and a beautiful new parsonage was built. The stylish decorated parsonage featured a patriotic bathroom decorated in red, white and blue.

Becoming part of the Linden Church Family in August of 1973- Rev. M. T. Williams was assigned the pastor of Linden by Rev. Ralph Williams then State overseer of Florida. A business meeting was held soon after and the men quickly informed Rev. Williams there would be no borrowing of money till the present loan of $7,000 was paid off on the new parsonage. Sister Kay Williams didn’t want to move into the new parsonage because they had 4 children at home. The church members quickly convinced her they had built it to be lived in by the pastor and his children and wife.

In the early part of 1974, love struck two couples in the church and Rev. Williams married Bill and Linda [Jay] Farmer, April 12th and Edward and Penny [Martin] Green, these two couples have been active members and workers of the church even today.

1975, Brother Lewis L Giddens approached Rev. Williams and said, “Bro. Williams, I’ll give an equal amount of what you can raise in offerings to pay off the debt of $7,000.” We quickly raised the money to pay the loan off.

In 1976, the church was badly in need of Sunday school rooms and they only had two gas heaters mounted in the back of the church, which warmed your head and allowed your feet to freeze in Winter. There were 9 ceiling fans that stirred up the hot air. So, under the capable workmanship and supervision of a great deal of the labor, Rev. Williams, and the men removed fans, gas heaters and installed central heat and air conditioning. the interior of the Linden red brick church with its stained glass windows was refurbished to include a suspended ceiling, The walls were covered with natural birch paneling and a new sound system was installed. At the death of her late husband, John C. Tharp, Sister Ola Mae purchased and gave to the church a very beautiful and modern communion table which sits in the church foyer today.

In November 1976¸under the direction of Pastor Williams, an addition of 1750 square feet was added to the back of the church which included a nice pastor’s study office and three large much needed Sunday school rooms.