FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF TAFT
The First Baptist Church, 9284 2nd Avenue, originally known as Missionary Baptist Church, was
organized in 1910 by Reverend W.E. Murphy, and had a membership of fifteen. Reverend Murphy
was one of the early influential citizens of Taft. There existed a wonderful sense of cooperation
between him and his Methodist counterparts, an attitude that exists today. His accomplishments
were numerous and when he died he left a void in the community. His obituary of December 27,
1947 noted that; “Dr. Murphy was known throughout Central Florida for his neighborliness and
good deeds; his acts of kindness toward those who had run afoul of the law or those in dire need
knew no limit.” residents fondly remember his only vices seemed to be his love for chewing
tobacco and his open-air roadster. Friends and family quickly learned when riding with him never
sit behind Reverend Murphy as the combination of wind and tobacco juice proved to be a messy
one. Reverend Murphy stood shoulder-to shoulder with his neighbors, working the sawmill by day
and sawing timber after hours to build his church. The first church was not pretty, it was a rough
structure with sand floors but the hard work and sweat that had created it made it beautiful in the
eyes of its members. That same year the church was accepted into the Wekiwa Baptist
Association,which today is known as the Greater Orlando Baptist Association.
The building burned down in 1912 , and the church, under the leadership of Rev. Murphy, was
Able to purchase a building on Boggy Creek Road and moved it to a lot donated by the Sphaler
brothers, where the church stands today. Rev. Murphy was assisted by church pioneers Mr. Hyatt,
Mr. Davis and Mr. Locke. He served the church for twelve years and during that time he helped
Organize churches in Tavares, Conway and Stuart. In late years Dr. Murphy would ride to and
From Taft in his antique Ford, the vehicle became familiar to many central Florida residents.
Reverend Smith followed Reverend Murphy, a few years later the church was led by Reverend
Cox who received an annual salary of $220.43. The church reflected the fate of the community and
felt the blows dealt by the hurricane of 1926, and the Depression, membership dwindled to 12
members in the mid 30’s, but it survived. Later that decade would see the church ordaining three
deacons, Mr. French Perdue, Howard Tyson, and Joe Harley.
The church membership gradually grew during the following years. The church, reflecting a need to
The congregation’s young people, built a Sunday school addition in 1948. Two years later, October
15,1950 the church held its first sunrise service, celebrating Thanksgiving. The first minister to
have a phone in his home was Reverend Albert Itterman, it was installed August 12, 1956.
The decade of the 60’s saw the church hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the present sanctuary on
October 30, 1960. This project became a reality in December of 1963 when the church celebrated
the dedication with a dinner on the grounds. In 1968 the church was able to pay down its pastorium
and Church benefactors, Mr. And Mrs. William Gillette paid of the remainder of that debt.
Tyson Dairy gave the church a corner lot in 1970; this would be used for parking as the church
grew Its membership. The John D. Mallory Fellowship Hall was completed in 1972, its name honored
church pioneer and activist John D. Mallory. A new pastorium was built in 1977.
A few years later the church bought the house and land that fronted the sanctuary and later
refurbished the annex that is used for Sunday School Youth Department. The church also built a
volleyball court in back of the annex and later added horseshoe pits.
The church held a “mortgage burning” ceremony in January of 1991. Today the church has 117
members and associate members and is led by Pastor Al Carlisle.