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Dancy Terrace or Reddell Street between 9th and 10th, Main and Hubbard Streets, Springfield, Jacksonville, Florida

Main Street Baptist Church History

from the booklet: FIFTY Fruitful Years 1905-1955
by Reese Johnston
(See the other informatin in the booklet Fifty Fruitful Years, a Historical Pageant)

"Back in 1905 there were a few men whose vision persuaded them to believe that before very long Jacksonville would be thickly populated as far north as what is now known as Twenty-first Street. Among these was Dr. L. D. Geiger, of the State Mission Board, who also realized that there would be a need for a strong Baptist work in that rapidly growing area. As a result of this thinking, the State Mission Board invited Rev. W. L. C. Mahon to undertake the task of starting a mission work in Springfield. At that time, Rev. Mahon was traveling about the State seeking to raise funds for the building of a Children's Home in Arcadia, Florida.

On April 12, 1905, Rev. Mahon appeared before the Mission Board to advise them that he had secured a lot at the corner of 8th and Main Streets and had also had a temporary building constructed and was ready to begin services. Realizing that, in assuming the responsibility for the purchase of a lot for $3,000.00 and the erection of a building for $632.00, a new church would be heavily encumbered, the Board voted to borrow $1,000.00 to be used to reduce the obligation the church would have to assume.

Thus encouraged, Rev. Mahon, and a small group of Baptists met in the temporary building--a modest wooden structure, 36'X50', which soon became affectionalely known as "The Shack" --on Friday afternoon, April 14, 1905, for the purpose of organizing the church for which they have been planning. Under the guidance of a Council of Advice, composed of Rev. Mahon, Dr. L.D. Geiger, Dr. W.A. Hobson, pastor of First Baptist Church, Rev. P. T. L. Queen, pastor of Second Baptist Church and Deacon W.S. Jennings, who had just completed his term of office as Governor of Florida, those present having letters, who desired to enter the new organization, were invited to hand their letters to the clerk. Brethren H.O. Boyer, J.R. Ray, F.R. Moody and Carl Dodson, and Sisters Mrs. H.O. Boyer, Miss Nettie Boyer, Mrs. A. V. Dodson, Mrs. M. V. Moody presented letters from the Second Baptist Church in response to this invitation. Following the reading of the usual church covenant the organization was completed with the election of the pastor -- Rev. Mahon -- and a deacon -- Mr. Boyer -- and the adoption of the name, "MAIN STREET BAPTIST CHURCH." The new pastor then presented a request from Sister Anna Wood, who desired to unite with the church upon the statement of her former relations with a Baptist Church in South Carolina. Upon the approval of her request, Sister Wood was invited forward to receive the hand of fellowship. After singing "I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord," the new church received the congratulations of the Council and visiting Christians and adjorned to meet again for worship on Sunday, April 16, 1905.

The Sunday School with deacon Henry Boyer, as Superintendent, immediately assumed its responsibility as the outreaching agency of the church and began to enlist the children in the neighborhood. Among those thus attracted to the church was a youngster named Maggie Zoerb. Upon the profession of her faith, Maggie was Baptized on June 4, 1905. The church is today accorded the rare privilege of extending to Miss Margaret its congratulations upon the fiftieth anniversary of the surrender of her life to Christ. And today, with an enrolment of 2,123, the Sunday School goes right on reaching the people, teaching the Word, and winning the lost.
It was in September, 1905 that a program was set up to train the young people of the church for better service. The organization was known as the Senior BYPU and was headed by Brinson McGowan, as president. In 1916 and 1917 the work was enlarged to include the Junior and Intermediate ages, thereby earning for the church the distinction of having organized the first Intermediate Union in the Southern Baptist Convention. This was the beginning of an outstanding record of achievement compiled over the years by the Training Union as it grew to its present enrolment of 546. 

In that same month of September, 1905, a small group of women met by a large window in a corner of The Shack and prayed and planned, and the result was the organization of the Women's Missionary Society, with Mrs. P. P. Arnold as president. During the years that followed, the women of the church gave themselves without reservation to the ministry of the gospel through their mission work. As time went on the church began to realize that none of its young people were surrendering for full-time Christian service. There developed in the hearts of the people a growing concern about this matter, until in 1922 it was suggested that the church be called to engage in a season of prayer to ask God to lay His hand upon some of the young people, and that a certain day be set aside on which to hold a Consecration Service. After almost three months of earnest petitioning, the Day -- September 3, 1922 -- arrived and there were consecrated to the service of the Lord on that occasion seventeen fine young people -- one for each year since the church was organized. And those were but the first fruits.

From the beginning, Main Street has been known as a singing church. Early in 1905 Mrs. C.A. Morgan offered to "preside" at the organ, which was the "foot-pumping kind." The years since then have been filled with music that has sung effectively the message of the gospel and sweetened immeasurably the fellowship of those who have worshipped here.

According to the minutes of a church conference held on December 9, 1906: "Bro. Boyer moved, Bro. Tate seconded, that Bro. Moderator, at a subsequent meeting appoint a committee, looking toward erection of a house of worship. Put and carried." It is incredible that in so short a time the growth of the church should have demanded such an action as this. But it did, and the planning thus initiated culminated in 1908 with the dedication of the sanctuary in which we now worship. The Shack continued in use as a Sunday School building until 1912, when the three-story educational building to the west of the church was erected. This building was later remodeled to extend the auditorium westward and to provide a balcony. Since then other facilities have been added as the need arose until today the physical property of the church, consisting of an air conditioned sanctuary, five separate educational units and a pastorium, is valued at approximately $750,000.00.

The three men to whom God chose to entrust the pastorate of this church during these fifty years have provided leadership of the highest caliber. Dr. Mahon served the church from its beginning until his death in 1931. At that time, Rev. Thomas Hansen, who had come to the church as Dr. Mahon's associate in 1929, was charged with the full responsibility of the pastorate. In January, 1950 Dr. Hansen resigned to accept a call to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The church was then without a pastor until March, 1951, when, Rev. J. R. White, the present pastor began his ministry here. Each pastor, in his own way, has endeared himself not only to his people, but to the community as well. Men of conviction, courage, and compassion, devoted to the Lord and dedicated to His service, they have lived the Gospel. To them and to the consecrated Christians who have labored so faithfully with them, goes much of the credit for the wonderful pages of history that have been written at Main Street Baptist Church."

Part II. 1950-

In March of 1950, Dr. J.R. White was called as Pastor and recognizing the need for a new and larger sanctuary and additional educational facilities, Dr. White formed a Planning and Survey Committee. A new pastorium was erected in 1951. In September 1954 the Osceola Mission was begun and it was constituted into the Sherwood Forest Baptist Church on September 30, 1956. In the following month a chapel was begun in the Parkwood area of Arlington.

Dr. John E. Huss was called as pastor in July 1957 after Dr. White went to Alabama. On May 29, 1960, the Parkwood chapel was constituted as a church. The plan for a new sanctuary was accelerated and the Planning committee was redesignated as the Building Committee and a program of contributions fort he building fund was initiated. Dr. Huss terminated his work as pastor in April 1962.

The 5th pastor, Rev. Kenneth Hansen, son of former Pastor Thomas Hansen, came to Main Street in September 1962. The church acquired additional property and plans for a new sanctuary and educational building were completed. The church voted to demolish the old building and build on the same site. The new buildings were dedicated on Sunday November 15, 1964.
On December 18, 1966, Dr. E.C. McDaniel was called as pastor. Although the Springfield area had under gone a great transition, Main Street continued to minister. Under Dr. McDaniel's leadership, the mortgage was burned in January of 1983, thus declaring Main Street debt free!!!

contributed by Reese Johnston
from the booklet: FIFTY Fruitful Years 1905-1955

and Rev. E.C. McDaniel, Church Directories post 1983

Part III. The Twilight Years

At some point after 1983, and I suspect later than that, Main Street Baptist Church was closed. I have heard that the building was sold to another denomination and that a large number of members removed to New Berlin, north of Springfield and began the New Berlin Baptist Church. In any event, I have as yet been able to contact anyone who knows what happened during that time period. No one seems to know where the library or historic archives of the old church are kept. I think this is indeed a sad ending for a church that for so many years was a vibrant and integral part of the Springfield community. I wish there were at least a marker on that corner to commemorate the good works of all those who were a part of that "country church in the city" as it was sometimes called. If you have any information regarding the above, please email me.

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Beth Learn,

Return to 50 Fruitful Years
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