A Snap Shot of Our Congregational History:

The first church of Christ congregation in Leesburg, FL began in 1944 when four ladies met on the back porch of the Riddle home at 2342 Thomas Road.  Those four ladies were Sisters Lillie Riddle, Sally Futch, her mother Sister Hooper, and her niece, Barbara Eliott. After World War II and a few more members moved to the area, a room was rented upstairs over Lake Hardware at 700 West Main Street in downtown Leesburg where the small group met.  Around this time a tent meeting was held on East Main Street, across from where the Daily Commercial building is now located, and several members were added to the congregation.

In 1945, the little group bought land at 1601 W. Main Street and a building was constructed.  The initial elders appointed to the Main Street congregation were L.G. Carroll and Lester Smelter.  The first minister for the congregation in the new building was W. O. Norton. Later, Bert Brown was minister followed by Hugh Piper.

In 1957, Lowell Garner moved to Leesburg.  He began teaching Bible studies at night and due to his efforts, congregations were established at Carver Heights in Leesburg and also at Center Hill, Florida.

In 1960, a new congregation was formed in Leesburg, known as the Northside Church of Christ.  A building was erected at 1211 North Penn street.  Byron Chastain was the first minister for that congregation with A. E. Hill, Tom Himel, Ray Jones and Ottis Qualls serving as ministers in the years following.  The new congregation appointed as elders Carl Fisher, W.K. Thompson, and Marvin Waldrop, though Earl Barton, John Lane, Fred Henderson, Carlton Ross and Robert Blaise similarly blessed the congregation as spiritual leaders in the years that followed.

Meanwhile, the congregation at W. Main Street was growing. Denver Farley became the minister after Hugh Piper.  In 1970, Vernon Means became the minister and served for nine years.  During his tenure, the W. Main Street congregation experienced great growth and property was purchased at 1506 South 14th Street and a larger building was built.  The congregation moved into the building in 1973.  That same year, a congregation was established in Groveland.

In 1979, the South 14th Street and the Northside congregations merged.  The leadership of both congregations, Robert Blaise, L.G. Carroll, Carlton Ross and Jay Story, felt more could be done for the cause of Christ if the resources of the two congregations were combined and all the members worked together in one location.

The property at Penn Street was sold and South 14th Street became the new home for the church at Leesburg. Brother Vernon Means preached for our first service together.

Shortly after the merger, the land just east and south of the building on South 14th Street became available for purchase and the land was bought soon after in 1980.

Our first minister after merging was Jerry Cantrell, who worked with the congregation for four years.  The first of many campaigns with the youth began while Jerry was here.  The first of which was to Brookhaven, Mississippi, and another in Oscoda, Michigan.  Benny Hunton was the Youth Minister.  After him, Don Woods was our minister for a short time. In 1984, Richard McGough was hired and stayed until 1992.

In 1986-87, our new fellowship hall was built behind the existing building, and in 1996, an addition was added to that building.  On Easter night in 2005, the building was damaged by fire due to an electrical short.  It was reconstructed in 2006.

During the 1980’s and 90’s, Benny Hunton worked as our Youth Minister and during that time many summer campaigns were conducted with our youth in many states.

In 1993, Norman Davis, Charles Holmes, Benny Hunton, and Ray Jones were affirmed as elders for the congregation.

Mickey Burleson came to be our Minister in 1992, serving until 1999 and during this time, Fred Gibbons worked with the church as Family Minister.  We were without a minister until 2001 when Harold Jones was hired.  He left in 2003 and for a short period, Ken Campbell worked with the church here. John Ross came later in 2003 and stayed until 2005. Richard “Hoss” Ridgeway came in 2007 and moved on in 2008.

We have had a number of Youth Ministers which include: Benny Hunton, Jonathan Thomas, Keith Robinette, Gordy Prather, and Robbie Jerkins, who worked with us for one summer while in college.

Benny Hunton served as our interim Minister until November 2009, when the church invited Will Smith to join in our work on behalf of Leesburg and surrounding communities.

Currently, Ray Jones, Joe Richmond and Forrest Jerkins serve as our Shepherds while  Robert Paulk serves as our Deacon. Jeff  McNeal and Ray Jones serve as our Preachers/Ministers.

We are a congregation with a long and proud history, yet we remain eager and optimistic as we continue to partner with God for future fellowship and ministry together.  If you join us this Sunday for worship, you may meet charter members or folks who have joined our family within the last year.  We boast an active church family of both long-time members and retirees, as well as thriving young families active in the community who seek the Lord together as one family in Christ to the praise of our heavenly Father’s glory.