A Brief History of the West Milton Church of Christ
The West Milton Church of Christ had its beginning in 1959 and its first assembly was in the home of John Payne. Raymond Buchanan delivered the sermon and was the first preacher for the congregation. The first Sunday’s collection was $80.00. Those in attendance were : Raymond, Francis, and Raymond Jr. Buchanann, Carolyn Buchanan, Myrtle Buchanan, June Gilbert, Mack Williams, Wynell Williams and Lottie Padgett.
In the latter part of 1959 the church moved to The West Milton Heights area on the south side of Highway 90. Four years later, in October of 1963, a new brick facility was completed in the Pea Ridge area between Pace and Milton on land gifted to the church by T.J. and Ruth Bower. The masonry work on the first building was done by Brother John Payne who was in his eighties at the time. Those who were a part of the congregation in 1963 included: Raymond, Francis and Raymond Jr. Buchanan; Frank, Myrtle and Carron Buchanan; Ronnie and June Gilbert; Pam and Tink Gilbert; Mack and Wynell Williams; Shorty and Dot Brobst; Ronnie and Joyce Moore; Ora Lee Whitcomb; Bill and Katie Bonifay; Buddy and Mary Bonifay; Erma Butts; T.J. and Ruth Bower; John and Bessie Payne; Charles and Edna Greene; Adrian, Betty and Mike McCall; Jessie Todd and her three daughters Sherry, Pam and Toni.
Over the next twenty years, the church continued to grow and thrive. In the early 1980s, seeing the need for Biblical leadership, the congregation appointed Brothers Adrian McCall and Thomas (Jr.) Phillips as its first elders. Gerald Bostwick, Mike Mefford, Bill Prince and Bob Rupert also served as elders at various times. Those who served as Deacons are: Thomas Curtis, Jack Keeley, Bob Rupert, Hoyt Box, Bill Hadder, Paul Lewis, Ted Russell, Ron Webb, Kenny McCall, Roger Bell, Marty Walker and Don Jackson.
Those who have served as preachers are: Raymond Buchanan, Harry Anderson, George Prosser, Tim Jennings, Johnnie Nixon, Melvin Barker, Clarence Denny, Jerry Fausz, Arnold Baggett, Paul Powers, Mike Mefford and Chris Pinney. The present preacher is Randy Missildine who has worked with the church for two years.
The West Milton congregation has often boasted an active and vibrant youth group. For many years the youth work was spearheaded by parents, volunteers and part time youth workers. In 2011, Casey Bearden joined the staff as the congregation’s first full time youth minister. Cody Walling followed in 2016.
With membership growing to over 100, the elders decided that a new building housing auditorium, classrooms and an office was needed. Construction began in 1988 on land to the west of the original building also on land donated by Ruth and J.T. Bower. This octagonal shaped building was completed the following year at a cost of roughly $250,000. The first service was held on May 21, 1989. The original building was converted into a fellowship hall and named “The Bower Building” in honor of Brother and Sister Bower’s generosity. During the early 90s, average attendance on Sunday mornings was 140.
During the record setting hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2005, the Bower Building suffered damage from three separate storms: Ivan, Dennis and Katrina. Due to the extent of the damage, the cost of repair and the age of the building, it was decided to demolish that building and build a new facility. The new Bower Building was completed in 2006 and was designed, like the 1988 auditorium, to be hurricane resistant. In addition to a large gathering room and kitchen facility, this new building also included shower stalls in each bathroom for future hurricane relief workers and office space for the church secretary, minister and elders.
The West Milton Church of Christ has been involved with many outreach efforts over the years. One of the earliest was making and delivering pillow corsages to patients in Santa Rosa Medical center. The church has for many years maintained a food pantry for the needy in the community. Other activities have included Vacation Bible Schools for children of the surrounding neighborhoods; Gospel Meetings, various youth events and devotionals; support of Escambia Christian School in Pensacola; Children’s homes in Mount Dora, FL and Bowling Green, KY; various foreign missions; supporting men in preacher training schools; work with the Ronald McDonald house in Pensacola; donating supplies for Favor House battered women’s shelter; school supply giveaway; Trunk-or-Treat at Halloween and a toy drive at Christmas for underprivileged children.
God has truly blessed the family at West Milton over the last 60 years. And we pray that He continues to bless us for the next 60… and beyond.