Linden Church of God

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

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.

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. 

A multi-purpose metal building was erected in 1987, Bro. Bill Farmer, Bro. Jerry Williams, Bro. Odell Williams, Bro. Leroy Franklin and others worked on the building, [1/2 gym floor size] to be used as a fellowship area and gym. The walls are 16 feet high and it had a modern kitchen with electric stove and convection ovens. The main floor served as a gym and fellowship area containing 2760 square feet, and the kitchen of 20 square feet. The completed building was constructed for the low cost of approximately $45,000.00 including air-conditioning and heating; and it is valued at $95,000.00. The old kitchen was refurbished to be used as a new office for the clerk and Sunday school superintendent, with the remaining area for a combination Children’s church area and a career Sunday school classroom.

Our ladies, under the supervision of Sister Kay Williams began a project in 1976 of baking Fruitcakes, a noted project that has gotten renowned repetition all over the county and has spread to many counties and states wanting orders from our church. The ladies used the money to help pay off bills in the church and today the ladies are still raising funds to support missions, Church of God Children’s homes [both our state and in Cleveland, Tenn.] Our ladies for many years now have made a monthly payment on the church mortgage, helping out the church one month out of the year. The ladies also use their money from these cakes to keep the parsonage inside fixed up and if an appliance fails, the carpet needs cleaned or repainting needs done, the ladies are there to offer financial support. Funerals are another function that are ladies are responsible for, when a family loses a member from our church the ladies organize the meal for the member’s family. The fruitcakes have never stopped from the beginning with Sister Kay Williams to our present Ladies Ministries – The Linden Church of God Fruitcakes are and will always be a Blessed fundraiser that gives back to the church, to its members, and to our Children’s Orphanages.

On April 1, 1991 Rev. Milton T. Williams resigned pastoring the church; it was a heartbreaking day for him and the members who loved him. He took a small church in South Florida for 18 months. He returned to Linden as a member, and Elder of the church, He presently conducts memorial services at the Florida National Cemetery, ministers on a one to one basis’s and remains a faithful tithe paying, mission giving member of the Church of God at Linden. His youngest son, Thomas Williams, a member of the church, has recently been called to the ministry. [2013] and has now become an ordained minister.

The Rev. Lee H. Burnham and wife Patricia accepted the pastorate of the church on May 12, 1991. During this time the kitchen of the church was updated with all new cabinets, repainted and a second convection oven was purchased, doubling the fruit cake baking capacity along with an ice machine and new commercial stainless steel refrigerator. A large outdoor brick Bar-B-Q grill and shed was also built. The Ladies Ministries purchased furniture, appliances and wall to wall carpeting for the parsonage. A new roof was put on the parsonage by the church. During his pastorate a utility building behind the parsonage was built and a new well and pump house which supplied water for both the church and the parsonage was installed.


A large metal addition was built over the existing church extending to the north, east and west sides of the sanctuary, more than doubling the square footage of the church. This area included three rooms that could be used for classes or offices, men’s and ladies’ bathrooms, a baby nursery, storage closet, a large front foyer on the north, a smaller foyer on the west side and over flow seating areas on the east and west sides that could seat 75 or more. The choir and pulpit area was enlarged and new carpet and padded pews and chairs were purchased for the entire sanctuary. A new organ was also purchased. The front of the newly remodeled sanctuary was landscaped compliments of Giddens Nursery in memory and in honor of the Lewis Giddens family.

In the summer of 1997 a Christian school was established, The Linden Lighthouse Academy, and continued on the premises until Pastor Burnham retired. It was then relocated to the downtown Webster area according to records the 2003-04 school year was the last year the Academy opened; A branch of the school still exist in Sumterville under the leadership of Principal Dr. Karen Lord and is called the Sumter Christian Academy. Rev Lee H. Burnham retired on June 1, 2003.

The church was given three men to listen to and review as their next pastor, Bishop Lanny Troller was asked to accept the position of pastor of the church, which he accepted August 2003 along with his wife Donna Kaye, we had four young boys to watch grow up in the nine years they were with us.

Bishop Troller implemented an aggressive missions program the first year he pastored, $17,500.00 to missions, local and abroad.

He continued to aggressively pursue missions his entire tenure as pastor in Linden. The missions built to $37,500.00 in just two years.

In 2005 the $89,000 church note was paid off with a note burning to celebrate this wonderful occasion. The following year many improvements were made; a baptistery was put in, PowerPoint installed along with projectors for the front and back screens in the church and the PA system upgraded. The church hired its first Youth Pastor, Sis. Dianne Smith. There were three mission trips to Jamaica beginning in 2006-07 where he took many dedicated church members with him to help spread God’s word and worship with the local church on the back side of the Jamaican island near Kingston. Some of these members were: Bro. Bill and Sis. Linda Farmer, Bro. Terry and Sis. Diane Langford and Sis. Mary Smith. Along with these members were Evangelist Harold Hanks and Bishop Roden and a few youth.

Bishop Troller continued with missions and the church was blessed, A mission trip to Mississippi for Hurricane relief was taken. the annual Christmas Giveaway was implemented, held at the Webster Market, the church supplied music, food and toys, blankets and bikes to the children and families of the Webster area. Within the same year $12,000 was raised off the floor of the church on Sunday to help the Team travel to Jamaica. The money the team did not use at the end of the mission trip was donated to the Church of God in Jamaica.