Vineland Road Christian Fellowship is planning a weeklong celebration with past preachers, musical guests and an anniversary banquet.
A tent revival held in Winter Garden in 1924 created interest for a Pentecostal church in the area. Two years later, The First Assembly of God was built — and it still serves the community today.
The church — which changed its name to Vineland Road Christian Fellowship in 2007 — is celebrating its 90th anniversary June 5-10 with guest speakers and musicians and a catered banquet June 10. The theme is “Giving Back to God.”
“We’ve mailed out nearly 150 invitations to previous members and folks,” Pastor Matthew Chester said. “We asked old pastors to speak at the services – Four of the five who pastored in the last 30 years are coming. That will be special for the folks and those who attended the church while they were here.”
In the beginning
The First Assembly of God in Winter Garden started in a small wooden building on West Palmetto Street on land donated by Sam J. Williams. The Rev. John Hause pastored 17 original members and served until 1929.
As the church grew, the need for a new building was evident. A two-story block structure was built in 1947, with Sunday school classrooms on the first floor and the main auditorium on the second. The top floor would serve in this capacity for the next 18 years.
By the early 1960s, the congregation again outgrew the structure and the current facility on the corner of Vineland Road and West Palmetto Street was built in 1965. The south Sunday school wing was added soon after.
The fellowship hall, church office complex and additional Sunday school classes were added in 1986. In 2011, the sanctuary platform had an extensive remodel.
A new era was ushered in with a restructuring in 2007 to an independent church known as Vineland Road Christian Fellowship.
Pastors in service
After Hause's service, Fred Voight served (1929-30), followed by John Kennington (1931), Lee Smith (1932-33), David Houze (1934-35), Hubert Franklin (1936-37), Leonard Powell (1938), Sady Argo (1939-40), Pharoah Danford (1941-42), Maxwell Cloude (1942-43), Florence Dellinoise (1943-44), Voight (1944-45), the Rev. Brickley (three months in 1945-46), J.E. Winstead (1946-48), Ace Williams, (1949-50), Hubert Worley (1950-51), J.B. Bauldree (1951-57), Howard Lee (1957-59), Winstead (1959-65), R.L. Beavers (1965-66), James Raley (1966-77);
And Larry Ford (1977-81), Beavers (1981-84), Daniel Braddock (1984-92), Randall Vaughn (1992-99), Eric T. Osborne (1999 to 2001), Rick Homes (2001-03), Grady Russell (2003-06), John Stallings (three-month interim pastor in 2007), James Crayne (2007-10), James Kent (2010-11), Stallings (interim from October 2011 to July 2012) and Matthew A. Chester (2012 to present).
“I am extremely humbled at the thought of following all of the men of God that have answered the call to shepherd this church before me,” Chester said. “It has been my distinct privilege to lead this congregation for the last four years. I give thanks to Jesus Christ for allowing me and my family to play a small role in God's great plan for this church. … I am elated to see what the Lord has planned for us in the future.”
Contact Amy Quesinberry Rhode at [email protected].