The Aripeka Baptist Church was founded in 1910
The church was originally located in the north end of town. During the early twenties, the original building burned. Afterward, the Church was rebuilt on property near its present location. The Church building was moved to its present site in 1965. During the early seventies, an educational building was built. Then in 1980, the Church’s fellowship hall was constructed. Finally, in 1985, the steeple was put on the Church, while the front of the building was being renovated. During this renovation, a ramp was added to the front of the Church for the handicapped.
The Aripeka Baptist Church has a long and priceless history. Dr. F. McConnell, past president of the Southern Baptist Convention, has links to Aripeka. Another former pastor of Aripeka Baptist Church was the Reverend Bab Adams. In fact, his first assignment after being ordained was to the Aripeka Baptist Church, where he also conducted his first wedding ceremony for Louise Geiger, who is still a frequent attendee at worship services and a strong supporter of the church. Earlier this year, she celebrated her 90th birthday attending a gospel presentation at Sunday Worship services, followed by a luncheon in the fellowship hall. Memories and benefits of his service to the Aripeka Baptist Church remain to this day as Rev. Adams was a mentor to our current Pastor, Joe Sims, who has served the church for the last seventeen years. Reverend Adams went on from Aripeka to become the president of the Florida Baptist Convention.
Many young men have been ordained into the Gospel ministry at Aripeka. Also the Aripeka Church has been instrumental in the starting of at least two other churches, the First Baptist Church of Weeki Wachee Acres and the Lakeview Baptist Church of Hudson. Because the church is located on high ground, it has served the community as a refuge during storms and high tides. However, the true purpose of the Church has always been to provide a spiritual refuge for weary pilgrims from the storms of life!
Pastor, Dr. F. C. McConnell
(in 1915, he accepted the call of Aripeka Baptist Church)
An undated Evening Worship bulletin of Aripeka Baptist Church contained the following biography:
We feel that it is an opportune time to chronicle some facts concerning the life, public and private, of our Pastor, Dr. F. C. McConnell, and his noble wife. These eleven years we have been enjoying the great ministry of these whom we honor today, yet have we turned the pages back and acquainted ourselves with the former ministry of our leaders?
Dr. McConnell served Jeffersonville, Byron, Eatonton, and Harmony churches while he was a student at Mercer University. After graduating at Mercer in 1888, he went to the First Church, Gainesville, from there he went to the assistant-secretaryship of the Home Mission Board. He then went to the First Church, Lynchburg, Va. for a pastorate of seven years. From there he returned to the Home Mission Board as corresponding secretary. He then accepted the Calvary Church, Kansas City, for a six year pastorate and from there he went to the First Church, Waco, Texas.
In 1915, he accepted the call of our church which his friends regard as the crowning work of his distinguished career. The spirit of our great leader is expressed in his own words to a deacon of a former pastorate who urged him to rest: his words were “What would you think of a soldier who sought the shade and shelter when his fellows were in the fight?”
In writing to one of our committee in regard to his coming to us, he said, “I think I come to your church with the deepest concern that I have ever experienced. It is a constant prayer in my heart that I may come, called from God.”
The past years have proven that God has brought our great leader to us. The spirit of this dear man of God has been the power that has led us on in our great church life.
The home life of our Pastor and his good wife must have been joyous indeed. They have six fine children: Mrs. Myrtle McConnell McBee, Aripeka, Fla; Mr. Stubbe McConnell, Shreveport, La; Mrs. Christine McConnell Rousseau, Pensacola, Fla; Lucius Willingham McConnell, Atlanta; Re v. F.C. McConnel Jr., Tifgton, G; and Carter McConnell, Aripeka,Fla.
How far reaching the Christian home is in its influence on boys and girls reared by such a great father and mother. We do not wonder that manifold blessings have been the result of their lives in our dear Southland.
We pray that our church shall respond most heartily to their leadership as they begin their twelfth year of service to God in this part of His Moral Vineyard.