Winter Garden Baptist Church

 

What started out as a nine-member congregation, with prime movers Rev. J.A. Richardson, J.L. Dillard, A.W. Hurley and W.L. Story, in Ocoee on August 26, 1888 opened doors to the building of a wooden church in a former site of a large sawmill in Winter Garden in 1896.

 
Formerly located across the street on the current site of the Rainbow Supermarket, an amount of 250 dollars have been offered by Dillard for the transfer of the church to its current location. It is now known as the Winter Gardenís First Baptist Church.

Winter Garden also known as "the land of pleasant living" is located downtown Orange County, West Orlando, Florida. It is bordered on the south by Windermere, on the east by Ocoee, on the west by Oakland, and on the north by Lake Apopka. The climate is warm and humid and seasons are hot or rainy half of the year.

winter garden baptist church

Winter Garden also serves as house to other historical landmarks aside from the First Baptist Church including the Luther Fuller Tilden house, West Orange Trail, Garden Theatre and the Winter Garden Heritage Museum, Daisy's Children's Boutique and Art Studio, Stoneybrook West Golf Club. 1909 marked the year when membership in the First Baptist Church had grown immensely and in 1921, the need for the construction of a new building had been determined. 

 

A grand total of $150,000 was spent for the erection of the brick church designed by architect J.J. Baldwin and R.W. Wimbish. On September 30, 1923, with J.B. Holley as pastor, the new church celebrated its opening with its first service. The same brick sanctuary survived throughout the years and is continually serving the people of Winter Garden. Winter Garden First Baptist Church's notable missions are starting other churches and opening school ministries. The churches that seeded out from First Baptist's efforts are the Starke Lake Baptist Church in Ocoee Florida, First Baptist Church of Windermere and Park Avenue Baptist Church in Titusville, Florida.

A school ministry of the First Baptist Church, the Foundation Academy, was opened in 1958 under Pastor Fred Williams, and it has been an educational institution that always fosters a Biblical overview on its curriculum offerings. What started out as a school for kindergarten has expanded, grown enough to include grade school and high school students in their course offerings. Additional school complex buildings were started to build in 1987 out of $1.6 million worth of 77 acres of land to cater the school's increasing number of enrollees. Facilities included in the expansion include the following: science lab, gymnasium, computer laboratory, and more classrooms. Middle school and high school programs in Foundation Academy give students the freedom to choose the track they want, either the standard diploma or college preparatory track or an honors college preparatory track.