Naples Park Baptist Church History

(Naples Park Baptist Church would like to thank Brother Mc Swain, Brother Alderman, Sister McSwain, Brother Crow and everyone who contributed to the writing of the Church history. May the LORD continue to bless them and use them for His honor and glory.)

The History of Naples Park Baptist Church, located at 798 109th Ave North, Naples Park, Florida. Written by Frank Alderman, Margaret Mc Swain, H. C. Mc Swain, and Herbert Crow (June, 2008).

The following was submitted by H. C. Mc Swain

Began in the Early Fifties

The church began in the home of C. E. Mc Swain in Bonita Springs, FL. In the early fifties, Mc Swain called for help from W. B. Davidson (he was a pastor in Tampa, FL), in establishing an independent Baptist Church in that area. He was a member of the First Baptist in Bonita Springs but had become disenchanted with the way Southern Baptists operated. (Actually, his father, Joe Mc Swain had originally helped found that S. B. church in Bonita. Four different Baptist churches were founded by members of the Joe Mc Swain family.)

W. B. Davidson

Place where first services were held-Dad’s old place on U.S. 41

Harold Mc Swain held the first services.

I was “elected” to visit Bonita (this was my home town) to hold meetings looking toward establishing a New Testament (Independent) Baptist Church in that area. We held the first meetings in my dad’s living room in the old home place, fronting U.S. 41. I don’t remember the exact number that was in attendance but I do remember we had a fair number present. This must have been in the early fifties.

A Tent Erected

I don’t remember exactly how long this continued but for a few weeks at least. Later, a tent was set up by W. B. Davidson, C. E. Mc Swain, Ed Pierce, and I on Grandma Hogue’s property located between Bonita Springs and Naples, FL. (The Hogue family never charged us any money to use their property.) Brother Davidson actually owned the tent that we used. We needed some stakes to anchor the tent, so we went out into the surrounding swamp areas (in those days there were plenty of trees, etc. in the area) and cut stakes for the tent. We borrowed Dad’s Jeep to maneuver about in the bush.

Ed, Brother Davidson and I rented an empty house located between dad’s place on U.S. 41 and the old Wayside Inn. The three of us stayed there during the time we were setting up the tent and during the meeting that lasted some two weeks. Brother Davidson and Ed did the preaching. I don’t remember the exact number of people that expressed interest in founding a new Baptist Church.

Small Beginnings

After the tent was removed, we continued in a small house furnished by Grandma Hogue. I conducted these services. We continued for some time in that small house. We are instructed not to despise the day of small things (Zech 4:10).

Big Ambitions

After a short time, C. E. Mc Swain was instrumental in acquiring a corner lot in the Naples Park subdivision. (The church still occupies this same location today.) It was purchased at the time for 10 dollars down and 10 dollars a month. The developers of the subdivision were much interested in having a church move into the subdivision, as it was just being developed, and they were very generous to us. We have to give credit to my dad, as he saw the possibility of this subdivision becoming a very populated area in the future. (Today, several thousand people live there.)

This subdivision was located on U.S. 41 between Bonita Springs to the north and Naples, Florida, going south. It also bordered on the Gulf of Mexico on the west side. It is rather large and is well populated today.

The Church Building Was Begun

Subsequently, a church building was begun. C. E. Mc Swain and the members built the church building. (It was 30×50 foot concrete block building.) There was no labor cost incurred in the construction of this building. My dad was a builder and under his direction, we all pitched in and did all of the necessary work. We even mixed the cement for the foundation and the upper perimeter (lintels). Later, we mixed the cement for the floor. We did have a mixer that dad used in his work. I might add that both men and women worked side by side in this work. Dad furnished the windows and cement as well as much of the labor. He also went to Bonita Beach and hauled beach shell for mixing with the cement. I don’t have any ideas as to how much money he put into the work. One day he and I were working on the roof and one of the salesmen from the subdivision office came by, looked up at us and asked us if we would accept a donation from him to the church (I don’t remember if I almost jumped off the roof or fell.) He gave the church $100! Today, that would be like a thousand dollar donation.

Later, Dad also bought a piano. He never asked for any recognition of any kind in regards to what he did. One night I arrived at the church building and there was a piano on the platform. I did not ask any questions and he did not supply any answers. I am sure his reward will be great.

Occupying of Building

I do remember the first Sunday we occupied the building. We did not as yet have a floor. I remember the sawdust we had placed on the dirt floor to keep the dust down. We were still using some of the benches out of the tent. I spoke from the text, Psalms 127:1. “Except Jehovah build the house, they labor in vain that build it: Except Jehovah keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.” I don’t remember all those involved in pouring and finishing the cement floor (at a later date). I do remember Dad, W. L., my brother, and many if not all the church members participating in that project. We poured it by slabs (Dad did not think we could pour and finish a floor that large in one day). I think there were three or maybe four slabs. Dad and W. L. had a lot of experience in cement work. Again we mixed our own cement and W. L. and Dad did most of the finishing, by hand I might add.

A Mission Work

The Church was organized around 1955 from the Congress Ave. Baptist in West Palm Beach, FL. (Up to this point, we were actually a mission out of Congress Ave. Baptist in West Palm Beach or really Lake Worth, Fla.). They sent representatives over from Congress Ave and they organized it into a full-fledged independent Baptist Church. I don’t remember the exact number of members we organized with but it was no great number. At least two of the original families were the Mc Swains and the Hogues. Eunice Hogue was also a part of the work. The Hogue family was rather large and long time residents in that part of Florida

Future Work on the Church

When the church called me about 1957, the greatest problem was living quarters. The church decided to partition off half of the church building and fix it for living quarters for us. This proved to be a very good decision. Wacaser, the man who followed us when we left in 1960 to go to Peru, SA, also lived in those quarters. Later, this was removed as the church eventually acquired a pastorium. My dad and I (mostly dad) built the pastorium. I don’t remember all the details but someone gave the church a lot to build on.

Later, Sunday school rooms were added as well as bathroom facilities. Also, the parking lot was paved as well as the road that passed in front of the church building. As you see, many hands were involved in this work. Many are passed on but the work goes on. The Lord’s church belongs to Him; we are just labors in His vineyard. All will be properly rewarded in that day.

The following was submitted by Brother Frank Alderman

I was there from late September 1966 to July 1969. I had supplied 2 or 3 times in the 50’s from about 57 – 58. Then when Dub Mc Swain went to Fairmount Ga., I was called on to go and preach at Naples Park and served until I was ordained as their pastor in March 1967. Brother Mc Swain had not been back long from Peru, and he agreed to do what he could to keep it alive until they could call someone as pastor. It was a struggle for me to serve and find affordable housing and work to support my family during those years.

I remember going down there the first time about 1955 when Bro Ed Pierce was running a revival. The church then had sawdust floors. Traveling US 41 then was about a three-hour journey, if we got all traffic lights.

The following is submitted by Margaret Mc Swain, who now lives in Johnson City, Tennessee

W. L. and Margaret Mc Swain, 12/96, Mansfield, LA

H.C. Mc Swain was preaching at Naples Park when I joined the Church. He drove over from West Palm on weekends. I don’t remember if he was still pastoring in West Palm or not. The Church was already organized…don’t know when this occurred. A man from Kentucky appeared on the scene during the winter of 1955. The man seemed to show up at Bro. Mc Swain’s dad’s door out of nowhere, and he was something of a con artist. He conned the church into calling him and afterwards they realized he could not read or write. The result was they decided to move him on but he was not easily moved. Eventually they did persuade him to leave. After he was gone, a man named Gerard Van Truen came and was elected pastor. I can’t remember where or how he came about. I remember he was of Dutch background, well educated and must have come from up North.

This would have been the summer/fall, of 1956. I don’t remember why Van Truen left, but for some time there was no pastor. That was when Bros. Colson, (Verne) Port, H.C. Mc Swain, Ed Pierce, J. H. Maddox, Wilkerson, etc. filled in. Brother Mc Swain was called as pastor next. That was when the building was divided to make a place for the pastor to live.

After Brother Mc Swain left to prepare for Peru, we were back to fill ins. Then we called Marion Wacaser {he was a member of Ahava, Bro. Boyer’s Church, located near Plant City, FL}. They lived in the church and he worked at the tracking station at Marco, which is located further south of Naples Park. Next came Bro. Varble, I can’t remember how we got him. The Varbles stayed until at least 1965, then they left to go back to Indiana. Bro. Mc Swain’s Dad also was killed in a car accident in 1965. The church then called Frank Alderman as pastor, which was during the time we were moving to GA. Bro. Alderman pastored the church from 1966-1969.

The following is submitted by Brother Herbert Wayne Crow

Naples Park Baptist Church History
By: Herbert Wayne Crow

Brother Harold McSwain and family contacted me about coming to Hollywood, FL for a weekend in July 1971. He knew that I had resigned at the Missionary Faith Baptist Church in Hollywood and was not pastoring. They came over and he spent much time going over the situation at Naples Park Baptist Church where he was the pastor. He wanted to leave Florida. He asked me to consider driving the 115 miles each way to preach for them, so three of us brethren drove over to Naples Park to look at the building. The very next Sunday my family and Brother and Sister Dan Small drove over and Harold played his accordion for the song services and he and I preached. I was called as pastor some time later and we drove to the church on Sundays until my lovely wife and I could get a house built on 2 ¼ acres of land we purchased in Golden Gate Estates.

The Lord blessed us with Sister Dorothy Kirkendall and Sister Alene Rutledge joining with the McSwain family and the 4 of us from Hollywood, FL. We had winter visitors, but no one joined for some time. Brother Al Shutz and Sister Tina (Tiny) Kelly later joined with us. The most we had as members was 18 precious souls. As I recall, I resigned in July of 1978 with no call or prospect of another pastorate. Sister Kirkendall was just a little more than put out at me (haha). We had two families from Hollywood, FL visiting for the weekend and while eating the noon meal at our home, the phone rang and Brother Roy Pierce said he was on the pulpit committee of the Central Ave. Baptist Church in Tampa, FL. They had voted for me to come preach as a prospect of pastoring in Tampa. After much prayer and three trips to preach at the Central Baptist Church, I was called as Pastor in July 1978.

This is written June 17, 2008 and I am still pastor of the Central Ave. Baptist Church. Naples Park Baptist Church was a learning field for me; to drive 230 miles each Sunday was quite a challenge. The Lord always supplied and blessed. Praise the Lord! Seven years as Pastor and what a joy it all was.

Sincerely in Christian love,
Bro. Herbert Wayne Crow

The following is submitted by Brother Willard Pyle

Naples Park Baptist Church History
By: Willard Pyle

We became acquainted with Naples Park Baptist Church after Dolores’ mother (Dorothy Kirkendall) moved to Florida. While coming down to visit her we heard of a preacher that I had gone to Bible College with in Lexington, Kentucky who was pastoring a church in the area.

We found out that he lived in Bonita Springs, so we tried to contact him while here on vacation, but failed. After we went back home, Dolores’ mother finally located him and found out that he was pastoring a church in Naples Park, so she began attending there and became a member.

Before we came back the next year, he had resigned and Bro. Crow became the pastor. He asked me to preach for him and I did this every year while visiting Dolores’s mom. I never gave it a thought about ever pastoring a church in Florida. However, in God’s providential dealings, I was pastoring the Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church at Chesapeake, Ohio, and had been there for over 18 years. Things evolved where we believed it was God’s will to resign the church there.

At the same time, unknown to us, Bro. Crow had resigned the church at Naples Park. He called and asked me if I would consider pastoring the church. Dolores’ mother was praying God would send a pastor, and of course, asked me about it. At first, I hesitated, but in thinking about how this came about, I said I would come down and preach in view of a call. Finally, the church here said they believed it was God’s will, and I felt God was in it. So after much prayer, we agreed to come. And so, in October of 1978 we arose and came to the South and have been here for 30 years.

As you would imagine, there are so many things that we could write about concerning our ministry here. God has blessed in so many ways. There have been times of great joy mingled with times of discouragement. But we can see the divine providence of God at work. Even though I worked publicly until I reached the age of 62 (I am now 79), God has given strength so that I could preach four times a week many of these years, as well as fulfilling the other duties of a pastor. Also, we are thankful that we have had other preachers come along and help during those years.

We have had people saved, and people who have come from other churches. There have been times we have had few, but thank God, He has always supplied and we have continued to this day. Yes, hitherto hath the Lord helped us! In the last few years we have had over 40 members move away, feeling it was God’s will. Most of them are still members of sound churches.

God has helped us to continue preaching the gospel concerning the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ and to preach all the counsel of God; and even though we failed at times, He hasn’t, and He gets all of the glory for our existence. We have had the opportunity to preach to people from all over the US and from other countries. They may just come once or twice, but we have had the privilege to preach to them and leave the results with God.

We want to acknowledge our appreciation for the members of the church at this time that God in His providence has brought this way. How thankful we are for Adam and Rachel Smith, (our granddaughter and husband) who felt God wanted them to come in order to help us. Along with them, Justin and Heather Meier and family have moved back, that is, Justin has moved back with the family. Justin had been saved here and called to preach and then met Heather who is the granddaughter of Bro. and Sis. James Hobbs. In due time, they were married, and Justin felt led to move to the King’s Addition Baptist Church, in Kentucky where Bro. Hobbs is pastor. Later, Justin pastored for over two years in Bristol, TN. The other members we had before they came were so faithful and because of this, we were able to keep going.

We also want to acknowledge our thanksgiving for other churches that have helped us over the years. We would love to have you visit with us and continue to pray for us.

May God bless you,
Willard Pyle, Pastor