About Us

 

On April 17, 1947, twenty members signed a charter to begin Southside Baptist Church after being started as a mission church in DeSoto City by First Baptist Church of Sebring. Rev. Woodrow Fountain became the first pastor in June 1947 and served until November 1949. The property on the corner of South Commerce Avenue and Orange Avenue was purchased at a tax sale and construction began immediately. The first service was held on Easter Sunday, 1948.

 While Rev. Harrison Crews was pastor from April 1950 to 1953 the church grew and was able to build a parsonage on South Eucalyptus Street. When Rev. J. J. Dorough resigned after pastoring the church for ten months, supply pastors conducted weekly services. Rev. Leland E. Brooker was called to pastor the church in December 1954. Twenty-nine and a half years later, Preacher Brooker was taken to glory on June 29, 1983, following serious heart problems, thus ending a fruitful ministry. Under Preacher Brooker's leadership a balcony was added to help the crowded sanctuary. A fellowship hall and Sunday school rooms were built behind the main building and later enlarged by adding a second story and more first floor classrooms. The AWANA youth program began in 1967 and continues today. Two lots next to the fellowship hall were purchased to increase parking facilities. Adding a larger sanctuary on the north side of the church eliminated two morning worship services. The old sanctuary was reduced in size for a chapel and the balcony was removed to make room for additional classrooms and a sound room.

 

The first missionary conference was held in 1956. Yearly missions conferences continue today, and the church helps support fifty-three missionaries, missions' agencies and Christian schools. In 1967, the congregation withdrew from the Southern Baptist Convention to become an independent Baptist Church. In 1969 Southside began fellowship with the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches (GARBC.) Our first associate pastor was former singing evangelist, Chelsea Stockwell who served from 1977 to 1986. He served six months as interim when Preacher passed away.

When it was necessary for Preacher to limit his ministry to recover from his heart attack, Russell Lethbridge, a Christian schoolteacher and member of Southside, was asked to be a summer assistant. On November 20, 1983, he began his sixteen-year ministry as pastor of Southside. Under Pastor Lethbridge's guidance, three more lots on Magnolia Street next to the parking lot were purchased, a senior saints ministry was started, children's church was added and a week of day camp was held in conjunction with daily vacation Bible school. The monthly newsletter was mailed to members and friends when a non-profit mailing permit was obtained. Working committees greatly involved the people in ministry and allowed Pastor more time for study, visitation and counseling.

 

Chris and Diane marine began their full time missionary career in Africa with Evangelical Baptist Mission. Doug and Karen Phillips were accepted for ministry in Ukraine with Association of Baptist for World Evangelism. Chris, Diane, and Doug were raised in Southside.

Dr. Ian Hay served as interim pastor when Lethbridge resigned to pursue a missionary career.

 Rev. David Altman was called to lead the congregation in March 1999 and continues to serve a Pastor.
Ryan Myhre joined the staff as an intern and then associate Pastor in 2016.

For many years the motto of the church was "The Book, the Blood and the Blessed Hope." Today, Southside still believes the Word of GOD is infallible, the blood of Christ was shed for the sins of the world, and Jesus is coming again.

 

379 South Commerce Avenue

Sebring, FL 33870
863.385.0752

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