History of Trenton Church of Christ
The building shown above still stands in Trenton, Florida. It presently serves as the meeting of the Gilchrist County Commissioners.
The History Of The Trenton Church Of Christ
(Richard B. Sanders)
[The following is a brief history of the beginning of the Trenton church of Christ in North Florida. This historical telling is offered based on information gathered by Richard B. Sanders. It is unknown what year Richard Sanders wrote this history records indicated he was a Trustee in the 1920s - keh]
In the early part of the year 1876, In February of that year, Dr. Denison Mason, my grandfather, a Christian preacher, moved with his family into the Trenton area. The Mason family was originally from Clinton, Kentucky. Upon settling in the Trenton area, Dr. Mason found a few Christians but no organized congregation. Therefore with the cooperation of W. F. (Bill) Smith and Dr. Barron, also a Christian, he moved at once to set in order a congregation to be known as the Joppa Christian Church. This church met for worship in a small log school house that stood in what is now known as McArthur Field, which location is about four hundred yards northwest of the present Trenton High School building. Here the church continued to worship until sometime during the following year, 1877 when the schoolhouse was destroyed by fire.
The church then established a new place of worship, located about three hundred yards east of the Joppa cemetery, in what is now known as the Will Love farm. Here the Joppa Christian church worshipped in peace and harmony for 18 years, or until September 29, 1896, when the church house was blown down by a hurricane. So far as we have been able to determine, this was the first congregation of Christians to be established in the State of Florida. The elders of this "mother church"- the Joppa Christian Church were W. H. Jones, T. J. Love, W. K. Lynn, and C. W. Colson. The deacons were Polly Reilly, J. P. Barron, Sr., and Thomas Horne.
Let me say here, for I speak with knowledge because I was reared in this church, that the Joppa Christian church never used instrumental music in the worship of the church, neither did the church affiliate with or work through the so-called missionary societies.
From this church, the "gospel message" as we know it today was carried by Dr. Mason to other points in the state as follows: first to Lake Butler, where a religious public discussion was held with a local Baptist minister, which resulted in the establishment of a congregation of Christians. Later on, the gospel message spread to Starke, Ocala, Fellowship, Lecanto, Inverness, Floral City, Brooksville, Dade City, Bartow and Arcadia, and perhaps other places that I cannot: call to mind.
Thus the Joppa Christian church continued its splendid service for a period of 18 years, from 1878 to 1896. However, its brilliant career was not to continue indefinitely, for by 1896, strife and division crept into the once united and peaceful church, and the church was divided. One faction moved up to Jennings lake church of Christ. The other faction of the original church built a small house of worship near the old church site and continued to operate as the Joppa Christian Church. Thus the two factions continued for ten years or until 1907 when upon the completion of the railroad through Trenton and after some of the older members of the church had passed away and some had moved elsewhere, the two factions of the original church came back together and united to form a new congregation to be known henceforth as the Trenton Church of Christ.
A new church building was erected on the lot on which the Phillips 66 service station now stands, just across from the County Court House. Here for 31 years, the Trenton church of Christ worshipped in peace and harmony until, in 1938, it was decided that the church required more adequate quarters for church worship and for classrooms, therefore a new location was selected just across the street from the old building and a new rock and cement building with classrooms was constructed by the late J. F. Beach who was at the time a deacon of the church.
Notes From The Deeds Of The Trenton Church Of Christ
Many of the earlier deeds of the church included clauses that should remind all of us of the diligence to maintain the purity of the word and the work of the church.
September 26, 1908
The following clause is inserted at the request of the purchasers of the lot: It is the object of those building this house to encourage and build up churches that will, in all work and worship, use only what is ordered and required in the NEW TESTAMENT, rejecting all the inventions and devices of men, such as the use of the organ and other instruments of music in connection with the worship and of any societies other than the church of Christ in carrying out the work of GOD. In the event of any division arising over these or other questions that may come up, the title of this property inheres to those, whether a majority or minority, who most rigidly adhere to the requirements of the NEW TESTAMENT.
December 3, 1935
It is expressly understood and hereby limited and is to be taken as a part of the Trust imposed by this conveyance that in the Worship of God, and the serves that may be held on the property described, that no Physical instruments of music, neither Missionary Socities [sp], Banquets, Socials or reverling [sp] shall be used in all Worship and services on this Church Property, inasmuch as this Church takes the word of God, as its only and all-sufficient rule, faith and practice, which is built on the foundation of the apostles and the Prophets. Jesus Christ himself being the Cheif [sp] Corner Stone, as is revealed and made known to the world in the New Testament, of which said church and the parties hereto are members, it is further stipulated that the above-mentioned Trustees and thier [sp] successors in office shall have the right to convey, lease or incumber [sp] by mortgage or otherwise despose [sp] of the same, as such Trustees of the said church as they see fit for the benefit of said body, also the right to appoint and fill vacancies that may occur from time from the death of his fellow trustees or otherwise becoming disqualified as such Trustees.
October 23, 1952
It is further agreed by both the parties of the first part and the parties of the second part that said lot and all improvements placed thereon are to be used by the Church of Christ in Trenton, Florida, for the promulgation of the Gospel of Christ and the worship of God as revealed in the New Testament. The use of innovations, such as mechanical instruments of music in the praise of God, and societies of human origin for doing the work of the church, such as missionary societies, are forever forbidden by this transaction. Should either of the above restrictions ever be introduced into the worship or work of the church, the trustees of the nearest congregation of the Church of Christ that oppose such innovations or societies shall take immediate possession of the aforesaid lot and all improvements thereon. The above-mentioned restrictions shall not operate to prevent the said trustees of their successors from disposing of the said lot provided the proceeds from the sale thereof shall be invested in other property of a similar nature and the aforesaid restrictions shall be incorporated in the terms of the deed evidencing such purchase.
Preachers and Elders for the Trenton Church of Christ
(Records Trenton Church Of Christ)
1876 – Dr. Denison Mason (Joppa Christian Church); Elders: W. H. Jones, T. J. Love, W. K. Lynn, C. W. Colson; Deacons: Polly Reilly, J. D. Barron, Sr., Thomas Horne
1919 – T. H. Milton (also Postmaster for Trenton); Elders: H. F. Brooker, J. C. Blitch (also a merchant).
1929 – J. C. Mason; Elders: W. H. Jones, J. B. Watson; Deacons: J. F. Beach, Bud Polk.
Irven Lee, Lee Roberts 1940
Roland Lewis preached for two years while he sought his degree at the University of Florida, Gainesville.
- Olin Hastings 1948-1952
- Tom Akin Jr. 1954-1957
- Herbert Thornton 1959-1960
- Tommy Thornhill 1963-1964
- Morriston Mitchell 1964-1965
- Billy Duncan 1966-1969
- Albert Staggs 1969-1971
- Roy Fudge 1972-1973
- Fred Liggin 1974-1975
- Donald Latner 1976-1978
- Dennis Walker 1979-1981
- Kent Heaton 1981-1983
- Harry Payne Sr. 1983-1987
- Dennis Tucker 1987-1991
- Wayne Goforth 1991-1993
- Olin Hastings 1993-1994
- Kent Heaton 1994-2013
- Everritt Heaton 2013 – Present
- Kent Heaton (Teacher) 2022 - Present
Other preaching notes:
Lee Roberts and Olin Hastings preached frequently as the congregation was between preachers. At other times, young men from Florida College in Temple Terrace, Florida, preached on Sundays. Names of those who have preached at Trenton are numerous – J. H. Love (1898), D. B. Cargile (1899), Foy E. Wallace (1940), Cleveland Moore (1940), and Harry Pickup Sr. (1940), H. E. Phillips. These are names gleaned from records and do not represent all the names of those who have preached the gospel in this area.