The Methodist Episcopal Church South in Crestview
Florida, was organized about 1908. The Reverend C. A. CORNELL was the presiding elder at that time. At the time of organization this was the western boundary of the Marianna District. Services were being held in the Congregationalist Church located on block 4 and block 5 according to the Army Survey of the town. From 1915-1918, the Reverend D. A. SELLERS served as pastor of the Milligan charge which consisted of monthly appointments at Crestview, Milligan, Holt, and Falco (Alabama.) Later Niceville replaced Falco.
During 1919 the, church was served by, the Reverend J. W. MATHISON who resided in DeFuniak Springs. The annual conference for that year was held at Demopolis, Alabama, and the Reverend R. J. COXWELL was assigned to the charge for the year 1920. The Reverend COXWELL, together with the board, saw the need for a building and a campaign was started to raise funds for the building. Plans were conducted for the purchase of anchor concrete blocks and to raise funds for a new building for the First Methodist church.
The first collection of funds was made by three girls, Bobby Lee COXWELL, age 14, Faye McGRIFF, age 14, and Velma CLARY, age 12. They sold sandwiches and collected $23.66. During the year, sufficient funds were received to purchase 3000 bricks and at the fourth quarterly conference, Frank C. WEBB, D. H. McCALLUM, and J. C. H.CORLEY were appointed as the building committee. Sufficient funds having been raised, the bricks were purchased. $175.00 was paid for lots one and two, with the Crestview Land Company donating the third.
The conference assigned Reverend W. F. FLOYD to the charge for the year 1921, and soon after his arrival work began. Mr. J. B. HAYSLIP and Mr. M. T. BARROW did the stone work. The first service was held in the new church on Sunday, November 6, 1921. Among the ministers serving the church during its long history were: The Reverends A. G. ELLIS, D. R. WHITE, R. W. JUDKINS, PAUL B. DANSBURY, O. VANLANDINGHAM and W. H. WILIAMSON. It was during the ministry of the Reverend WILT WILLIAMSON that the first unit of church school rooms was added to the sanctuary. This unit included the church office, the Ministers study, the Fellowship Hall and three classrooms. During the pastorate of the Reverend W. E. MIDDLEBROOKS the Annex was added to the fellowship hall. It included eight classrooms and housed the children's division, the kindergarten and two nurseries. Three years later, the second story was added to house the Youth Department and the Junior Division. In May 1962 the Reverend A. L. MARTIN, church pastor, presided at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Methodist Church. The construction was completed at the cost of $316,000 which included the parsonage ($37,000). The new church building is located at Texas Avenue and Eighth Street. The parsonage is a block away on Eighth and Alabama Avenue. Bishop W. Kenneth GOODSON, leader of the Methodist Church in Alabama and Northwest Florida, took part in the consecration of the First United Methodist Church on October 2, 1962. This service brought to completion four years of labor. Space on the main floor of the sanctuary was provided for 440 people with additional room for 150 people in the balcony and 50 seats for the clergy and choir. The educational building includes 31 classrooms, a fellowship hall, kitchen, recreation room, nurseries, and office suite. This past year a portico has been built on the east side of the sanctuary in memory of George W. BARROW, SR. who passed away in March 1985. Mr. BARROW had been a member of the church almost from its beginning. For sixty-four years the Methodist Church has provided Christian leadership in the community through its faithful members and outstanding ministers. We have a rich heritage in our church of which l am proud to be a member.
[Editor's Note: This history was prepared by Billy RUTLEDGE, Lee SMITH, and David SMITH in January, 1986, as part of the requirements for earning their Boy Scout God and Country Recognition (received during the morning service on February 9, 1986). Opal BARROW (their great grandmother) helped them with a portion of their work. George W.BARROW, SR. (their great grandfather) was the first Scoutmaster of Troop 30, the same troop to which these boys belonged. This was also the first scout troop formed in Crestview.]
Ministers serving our church were:
A. H. VanLaudingham 1925 A.E. Ellison 1938-1941 Noah Allen 1908-1909 R.W. Judkins 1941-1945 W.S. Guice 1909-1911 Walt Williamson 1945-1950 J.J. Richards 1911-1912 W.E. Middlebrooks 1950-1953 D.A. Sellers 1912-1913 W.B. Atkinson 1953-1957 J.E. Weston 1913-1914 Ovie W. Mathison 1957-1959 D.A. Sellars 1914-1917 A.L. Martin 1959-1964 J.W. Mathison 1917-1919 Henry E. Eddins 1964-1968 R.J. Coxwell 1919-1920 Larmar Spencer 1968-1974 W.F. Floyd 1920-1921 James N. Love 1974-1976 B.F. Brown 1921-1922 James Savage 1976-1980 J.F. Price 1922-1924 Thomas Sowell 1980-1984 D.L. Folsom 1924-1925 Harold Stanley Mullins 1984-1990 Grant Gafford 1925-1926 Alvin Harbour 1990-1994 E.E. Stafford 1926-1927 J. Wesley Spivey 1994-2000 J.W. Gibson 1927-1928 Richard S. Wright 2000-2004 A.H. VanLandingham 1928-1931 Bruce Sheffield 2004-2012 Paul B. Dansby 1931-1935 Steve Warren 2012-2014 J.O. Wilson 1935-1936 Michael Precht 2014-2019 J. Thomas Eckford 1936-1937 Ronnie Bearden 2019-Present J.L. White 1937-1938
The memorial windows in the original Crestview Church
Methodist Church were dedicated as follows:
Rev. W. F. FLOYD Rev. R. J. COXWELL Mr. Purl G. ADAMS Dr W. H. DELACY Mr. Wm. E. WEBB F.C. WEBB Mr. & Mrs. C. B. FERNDON Charles Dean SAVAGE Rev. B. B. BROWN Mr. & Mrs. D. H. McCALLUM Mr. & Mrs. J. C. CORLEY Mr. W. L. ADAMS Mr. L. BUSH Mr. & Mrs. J. W. BOWERS Mr. & Mrs. J.. G. PERRYYMAN Mr. J. D. COBB.
Building of the New Sanctuary
After 42 years at the church located on the corner of Beach Avenue and Wilson Street, the church had out grown its building. In November 1962, we began building in the 500 block of E. Eights Street. The Rev. A.L. Martin was the pastor and work progressed until the educational unit was completed with the exception of the interior decorations. On Sunday, June 21st, Sunday School service began at 11am and the first worship service was conducted by Re. Eddins. Worship services were held in the Fellowship Hall while the Sanctuary was being built. Rev. A.L. Martin, church pastor, presided at the ground-breaking ceremony for a $316,000 construction program for the Sanctuary. His grandfather Rev. Noah Allen, was the first pastor when the church was organized as a mission in 1908. On Easter Sunday, April 10, 1966 an Easter Sunrise Service was held in the unfinished Sanctuary. As the work proceeded toward completion, a prayer vigil was planned and held in the Sanctuary on Saturday night, September 10, 1966, so that people could come and offer their thanks for the progress made on the building and ask for God’s blessings upon the Sanctuary as it was opened for use. On September 18, 1966 under the leadership of Brother Eddins, the first service of worship was held in the new Sanctuary.
Sunday, October 2, 1966, was set as the day for the service of consecration for the Sanctuary. Bishop W. Kenneth Goodson came to preach at the morning worship service with the assistance of the Reverend Welton Gregory, District Superintendent of the Andalusia District and the Rev. H.E. Eddins, pastor. The building was presented for consecration by the Chairman of the Building Committee, Mr. W.E. Duggan. Three former pastors of the church came to share in the service of consecration. They were the Reverends Ovie Mathison, W.B. Atkins, Sr., and A.L. Martin along with the Reverend Walter Albritton, Jr. represented the board of Missions in the service of consecration. All the furnishings for the Sanctuary of the church were given by M. and Mrs. W.E. Duggan as a memorial to their two children; William E. Duggan, Jr., and Ann Duggan Steffan.
The indebtness on the church building was paid off in 1976 and on June 26, 1977 a service of dedication was held with Bishop Carl J. Sanders preaching at the morning service and burning the mortgage.
Sanctuary Pipe Organ
This particular organ was manufactured in its entirety in Bray County, Ireland from March 1987 thru June 1987. Kenneth Jones and Associates of Wicklow, Ireland is the manufacturer. Sixteen people were used to construct the organ in Ireland over a period of about three months. The organ was then disassembled, packed and shipped to the United States for delivery to Crestview First United Methodist Church. When the organ arrived, so did two young Irish installers, Stephen Rooke and Stephen Adams who worked for three weeks doing the primary installation.
The Organ Case, which is about seven foot across and rises two stories high, is made out of White American Ash. The key “checks” are inlaid with ebony and the key pad is made of ebony. The control knob and other decorative touches are made from Sycamore. The organ consist of three divisions: Great, played from the lower keyboard (manual); Swell, played from the upper keyboard; and Pedal, played with the pedal. The pipes of the Great and Pedal divisions are located in the upper section of the organ case behind the largest pipes of the Great 8’ principal (flumed copper) and Pedal 4’ choral bass (polished tin). The pipes of the Swell organ are located in a box at the rear of the case fitted with movable shutters to create crescendo and diminuendo effects.
The wind of the organ is supplied by an electric blower which apart from lights, is the only electrical component in the organ. The blower feeds wind to a large traditional dead-weight reservoir which in turn, feeds the organ through large section wooden wind trunks, the wind-chests on which the pipes stand are made of mahogany and contain valves for each note(pallets) that are converted to the keys and sliders, connected to the stop knobs on each side of keyboards which allow each set of pipes to be sounded by the keys.
The specifications of the organ were prepared by Michael Sparks, consultant to the church, Kenneth Jones, and Trevor Crowe. In addition, the following members of the firm were involved in the building of the organ: David Maybury, Stephen Rooke, Albert Archer, Stephen Adams, Cillian O’Brien, Joseph Roberts, Paul O’Shea, Aidan Walsh, Christopher Harvey, Donal McKay, Gareth Quin, Albert Foley Ann Keogh and Jean Walsh.
In 1992 the Christ Chapel was built and serves our church well today. Small weddings, Prayer Services, Worship Services and many other types of Ministry meetings are held in our Chapel. Our Wesleyan Child Care Center also uses the Christ Chapel weekly for praise time.
In the early part of the year 2005, a study committee came before our church council to present a plan for future growth. This presentation included plans for a Life Center. In those years a basketball arena was a large part of what would be a two-story building. Because of high cost and the beginning of a serious recession which greatly reduced incoming money, the plans had to be revised. The result brought us to a one-story building with a Youth Center and a game room, plus a large Worship Center to accommodate the contemporary worship. A kitchen, other smaller rooms for gathering, classes and small groups are included, plus a coffee shop in the large entrance area and much more. The Crossroads Center was completed in 2012.