1907- 1919 The Alachua church of Christ had its beginnings about five miles southeast of Alachua in the little town of Fidelity sometime prior to 1907. Pearl McLeod Carroway and Nettie Dortch obeyed the gospel there in 1907 and were baptized in Burnett’s Lake during one of J.P. Prevatt’s gospel meetings. Brother Prevatt was born in this area on November 3, 1888. The Fidelity building was a small box type building with steps in the front and only two windows. Four or five families attended at that time (around 1916), with an average of about 18 in attendance.
In 1917, W. A. Cameron preached for four weeks in a tent meeting on a vacant lot on the corner of south Main street and southwest 2nd avenue. There were several additions to the church. The worship services continued to be held in Fidelity.
In 1918, J. P. Prevatt held another meeting on south Main Street, near where the Police station currently stands. Again there were several additions to the body of Christ in that meeting and a number of members began to meet in homes in Alachua. Some continued to meet in Fidelity until the building was torn down sometime prior to 1921. At that time, all of the members of both groups began meeting in Alachua.
Some of the early families that worshipped with the Fidelity and Alachua congregations were the Dortch, McLeod, Cathcart, Davis, Waters and Crawford families. While at Fidelity, Porter McLeod usually taught the lesson and on occasion Arthur Cathcart would do the preaching. In Alachua, the church would meet in the home of either Porter McLeod or Charles Waters. The Water's home was directly across the street from the current church building.
1920 The current church building was built during the years of 1921 and 1922 with services being held for the first time in May of 1922. Fred Crawford was one of the firsts to preach in the new building and the importance of regular attendance was stressed during the lesson. There was some resistance to special Bible classes being conducted. But classes did begin in the late 1920’s with classrooms being added to the building in the mid 1930. J. N. Copeland came to Gainesville to attend the University of Florida and in September 1925, while still a student, he agreed to preach for the Alachua Congregation for $50.00 per month. A preacher’s residence was built in 1928 for a cost of around $1800. On December 20, 1928, J. N. Copeland and Rubye Mae Folsom were married on the front porch of the new home. They moved into the home on February 1, 1929 when the construction was complete.
The first elders of the Alachua church of Christ, Charlie Waters, D. S. Waters and James P. Douglas were appointed in 1929.
1930 During the 30’s J. N. Armstrong, S. H. Hall and N. B. Hardenman all held meetings in Alachua. It was not uncommon back then to have 100 in attendance for these meetings. The Alachua congregation has undergone periodic change and development throughout the years. In the 1930’s it become apparent more classroom space was needed. So classrooms and a baptistery were added. The new addition was made with a single block press that belonged to Benjamin Franklin Scruggs Sr. With that press, they could make about 50 blocks a day. Brother Scruggs served as the contractor on the addition. Roy and Ray Harrision along with many others donated time and B. W. Mott constructed the table and benches for the children’s classrooms (some of which are still being used today). Prior to these additions being made, those desiring to be baptized had to be taken to Burnetts’ Lake.
1940 In 1949, the Copeland Sausage Company moved from Alachua. This had a detrimental effect on the attendance. Many members moved with the company. Others went elsewhere to look for work and the congregation struggled for a number of years.
1980 During the 1980’s the church in Alachua supported several mission fields. Some of these were the Christian Home and Bible School in Georgia, the children’s home in Mount Dora, missionary work in France and Switzerland, the prison ministry in Lake Butler, the Sudburry church of Christ in Canada, the African Famine Relief (White Ferry Road church of Christ) and the Ghana Crusade in Africa. In 1986, because of the age of the building and changing needs of the congregation, the first of several major repairs was begun. First, the pews were recovered with the assistance of many of the members.
1990 In 1991, all the classrooms were repainted and new carpet was installed in the classrooms. During 1992. A handicap ramp was built. In 1992, the congregation conducted a campaign for Christ with the assistance of the Crieve Hall church of Christ in Nashville, TN. During that campaign, over 1600 doors were knocked, a number of Bible studies established and there were four additions to the kingdom of God in this community. Since that meeting, attendance has been running over 70 for the first time in many years.
During 1994, the Alachua congregation once again began to make improvements on the current buildings and grounds. Handicap bathrooms where complete in March of 1994 and the fellowship hall was redesigned to accommodate multiple classes. The Wheeler family moved from the preacher’s residence in May of 1994 and the house was converted into a church office and educational building.
In June of 1994, Wallace Maxwell was employed to teach personal evangelism to the congregation and teach at the Florida School of preaching. Ten souls were baptized in the Christ as a result of the efforts of his students at the school of preaching. In June of 1995, Mike Elledge came to work with the Alachua congregation and has shown great zeal and growth during that period of time.
1995 was another great year for the Alachua congregation. On January 8, 1995 elders were once again appointed to oversee the work of the congregation. Joe Bryant, Luther Honey and Richard Tudor were appointed to serve the congregation. In June of 1995, Ken Martin was added to the eldership of the Alachua congregation.
In February, the congregation took on the task of supplying a preacher for the Cedar Key congregation and eight men from the congregation volunteered to preach during this period of time. During the 1995 year Cedar Key was able to purchase a piece of property outright and set aside $30,000 towards the building of a preacher’s home. At least nine different men took part in preaching for the Cedar Key congregation during this ten-month period. In April of 1996, Trent Wheeler began working with the Cedar Key congregation on a full time basis.
Elders and Deacons In addition to Charlie Waters, D. S. Waters and James P. Douglas who have already been mentioned as being the first elders at Alachua congregation, the following men also have served as elders in the Alachua congregation through the years: J. N. Copeland, Sr., Archie Copeland, Robert Palmer, Sr., Chester Dampier, Flirl Hester, Morgan Outlaw, S. D. Carpenter, Ray Harrison, Henry Vicory, Joe Bryant, Luther Honey, Richard Tudor and Ken Martin. Charlie Waters served longer than any other individual as an elder of the Alachua church.
Preachers Local preachers of the Alachua congregation have been: Arthur Cathcart and Fred Crawford( Pre-1925), J. N. Copeland (1925-1961), Harry Darrow (1961-1963), William Floyd (1963-1968), Alfred Reese (1968-1969), Roy Burgess (1969-1971), Larry Adams (1971-1973), Cliff Jones (1973)-1975), Jim Hollingsworth (1975-1976), Joel Lewis (1976-1979), A. L. Parr (1980-1981), Bobby Salmon (1981-1982), Bernard Horsley (1982-1985), Trent Wheeler (1985-1986), James Huggins (1986-1989), Percy Bass (1989-1990), Trent Wheeler (1990-1996), Wallace Maxwell (1994), Mike Elledge (1995-1999), Carlos Ellerbe (1999-2005), Gene Burgett and Larry Pahman Jr. (2006-2007), Gene Burgett (2007-Present).
Treasurers Treasurers for the Alachua congregation have included: Chester Dampier, Flirl Hester, Roy Harrision, Billy Vickory, Ray Harrision, James Harrison, M. Tommy Mikell, and G. Ray Cauthen, Jr.
Gospel Meetings Some of the preachers who have held meeting in Alachua through the years include: Paul Hunton, Fred Walker, Harry Pickup, Paul Andrews, Frank Andrews, J. Ellis Walker, Hoyt Houchen, G. K. Wallace; (1980’s) John Barron, Howard Allen, B. Bailey, W. F. Parker, Elmer Lusk; Frank Faircloth, Orville Boyd, Dale Larsen, Keith Cozort and Paul Tucker.
Conclusion There is a great deal of history that has been overlooked and will only be recalled on the other side of eternity. Most of what has been recorded here is the result of oral history passed down through the years. May God bless the future of the Alachua church of Christ.