The First 100 Years
1888 – 1918

In 1888, a small one-room log schoolhouse was built down under the hill at “Hurricane Head”, which is back of the acreage where Mrs. Nina Johns lived for so many years. The first schoolmaster was John W. Senterfitt.  John’s father, Mark, who is buried in the Holt cemetery, migrated from the Carolinas and settled down on Yellow River near Harold, on Senterfitt Island, where John was born.  Sometime later the family moved up the hill on a homestead in the area now at the end of Cooper Lane.

Mark Senterfitt was a very godly man and he brought his children up to fear God and live a Christian life.  He did some preaching, though not an ordained
minister, and his son John followed in his father’s footsteps, but John felt
the need for seminary education.  He taught school to earn the money that was necessary to further his education.  He enrolled in Stetson University in Deland and commuted back and forth at least once a month to preach after he left off teaching school.

When he was home during the weekends preaching, the whole Senterfitt clan and people from miles around would gather at the little log school.  They came on ox carts, mules and wagons and afoot. They would bring lunch and stay all day until nightfall.  Sometimes when John was not at home, his father, who was farming at the time, would invite every person who attended the services to come home with him for the noon meal.  Many times there were dozens of folks who stayed the rest of the day with the Senterfitts.  With no communication in those days, when a message needed to be heard, a person with a good, loud voice would get out and yell so people for a mile or so around could hear, so church services and crises of all kinds were announced in this fashion.  In 1896 Mr. Mark Senterfitt bought one acre of land for the cemetery where he and his wife are buried.

John began to see the need for a larger building for the church, so the first thing was to find suitable land in a more central location near the railroad and the old “Stage Road”.

About this time a wealthy businessman from Kansas, Senator Ebenezer Porter, came to Florida with the idea of purchasing cheap land. He finally bought several thousand acres.

So John approached the Senator who kindly donated the property upon
which our church now stands. Immediately the men of the church began a
building. They did practically all the labor themselves and donated the
lumber.  Names remembered among these first members who helped build the structure are, besides the Senterfitts, were Mr. John W. Armstrong and Mr. Callaway. John wanted some extra beauty added to the plain building so he hewed a pole and carved a bird to put high on the steeple. The building that we now use as our fellowship hall is this original structure. It was completed in about 1901. The classrooms were added much later. The church was named “The New Hope Baptist Church”. The bell was installed soon after the completion of the building.

Once John was married he needed a church that could pay a salary so he
could support himself and his wife. His first move was to Pensacola. He
organized East Hill Baptist Church and pastored in a few other churches while
living in Pensacola.  John moved on to Marianna after hearing of the need for a Southern Baptist there. Later he went to Jacksonville and then to Live Oak. While in Live Oak he became very ill with a critical form of anemia. Mrs. Mae (Senterfitt / Renfroe) Dancy was his nurse for a short while before he died. He was buried in Jacksonville.

Early picture of FBC-Holt circ. 1900s

John’s obituary read as follows:

In the infinite wisdom and greatness of God he saw fit to call home to Glory, on Tuesday afternoon our own dearly beloved Rev. J. W. Senterfitt, bringing to a close one of the most beautiful and consecrated careers in the ministry that Florida Baptists have known. He gave more than fifty years of glorious service to the ministry in Florida.  When he retired from the active pastorate about two years ago, he moved to Live Oak, united with our church and became greatly loved by all of our people. Funeral services were held Thursday afternoon in the Wood lawn Baptist Church, Jacksonville.  Our deepest sympathy and  assurance of prayers go to each member of the family.

Today we call these men “Church Planters” or “Church Starters”.  John was one of the first among many.

1918 – 1957

After Rev. Senterfitt moved away, several part time ministers served the church.  Among them was the father of the first judge of Okaloosa County, Mr. Mapoles. He was a fiery, outspoken man and didn’t stay long.

During these years the following men were pastors of “The First Baptist Church”.

Rev. Luke Henderson

Rev. Haygood

Rev. Tom Anderson

Rev. Jim Quigley

Rev. David Johnson

Rev. Arnold McMillan

The congregation was quite small and not much improvement was made to the building. Kerosene wall lamps were used; a big wood heater was the only
warmth.  Each meeting some of the men would bring a huge armload of wood, which would usually last for the allotted time of the meeting.

In the early ’30’s the building was used for school because the school had been destroyed by fire.

A new day was in store for the church though, because in the early 40’s Rev. Tom Anderson of Pensacola passed through Holt one Sunday night and stopped to worship with the congregation.  Finding that the church was without a pastor he offered to come preach once a month. He soon found a young man who had been in the thick of the fighting in World War II and on his return home had felt the call of the ministry. His name was Jim Quigley.  Rev. Andersen recommended to the church to use this young man as pastor. He was employed at Monsanto, was on shift schedule, had a wife, Eunice, and three children.  Bro. Quigley was ordained but continued to work, as the church was unable to support a pastor full time.  After the first revival, though, twenty or more people joined the church and it grew by leaps and bounds. The family moved into a small frame house that was across the road from the Terry home.  Sometime later the W. C. Jones home was for sale and it was purchased for the pastorium.

Br. Quigley had a vision that brought the church into a building program.  They added classrooms and put asbestos shingles on the sides.  A higher steeple was built with a Sunday School room in the base of it where the bell room was. A neon lighted cross was installed at the top of the steeple with the
words “Jesus Saves”.  A few years later a hurricane destroyed it.

Bro. Quigley felt God calling him down to the coastal area of Ocean City, where people were swarming.  So, in the mid 50’s, Bro. Quigley asked our
church to be a mother church there.  One Sunday afternoon many of us went with him to help organize, support and be workers with him there each Sunday afternoon. We met in a vacant meat market that had a dirt and sawdust floor.  Much to our surprise the plaice was filled with people hungry
for a church, and enough were there to take over the administration of the
church.  While we were no longer needed, we had to give up our beloved Pastor to them. That was one of the saddest times in our church.

The Ocean City church established a mission at Wright, so First Baptist Church of Holt is a mother and a grandmother church.  Bro. Quigley recommended a young preacher to us named David Johnson of Pensacola.  He had a wife and twin baby girls.  He was our Pastor in 1954-55.  They soon left us in the fall of 1955.  Rev. Arnold McMillan was called to Pastor the
church.  He was a bachelor, but soon found a lovely Christian girl in DeFuniak Springs, Gladys Griffith’s niece, Laurice Spence.  They were married and
set up housekeeping in the pastorium.

During his years here through 1957 the church began a tremendous building program.  Plans for a new auditorium were secured from the State Convention and the men of the church began to get busy.  Hilbert Taylor was blueprint reader and Dave Griffith, Marvin Brown, Bryan Smith, E.C. Hand, Lee Sanford, Ed Broxson, Roe Carr, Hustus Corbin, George Livingston and Hance Gortman were diligent laborers.

During a 1957 revival a contest was held between Church Training and Sunday School to fill the most pews.  The Director of Church Training was Bryan Smith and he stated that if his group lost the count he would ride through the Holt community on a mule, sitting backwards. They  lost!
He borrowed a mule and fulfilled his pledge.

The auditorium was not complete when. Bro. McMillan moved away, though some work was being done.

1958 – 1974

Rev. G. H. Mclnnis followed Rev. McMillan as Pastor.  He helped the
congregation get the new auditorium ready for use and we moved into it, trying to pay for it as we built it.  In 1961 Rev. Mclnnis moved to a church in Geneva, Alabama.

Rev. Stanley Britton came as our next Pastor.  Mrs. Britton promoted the Girls
Auxilary.  Many girls in the community became members, and several coronations were held.

We had an interim Pastor, Jim Parker from the Bay Area after Rev. Britton left.

Following him was Rev. Willie D. Carr who was born and raised in Holt.  His
contribution to the growth of the church plant was a complete renovation of the Pastorium and the addition of several rooms to it.  The Church By-laws were also updated and revised.  He influenced the church to change
its name to “The First Baptist Church of Holt.”  The church financed a preaching trip to the Virgin Islands for him during his stay.

The church called the Rev. Jim Kemp after Rev. Willie D. Carr.  During this period of time Mrs. Mae Dancy had drapes for the baptistery put in and the wood trim around. After Rev. Kemp resigned the church called Dr. Gordon Sasser to serve as an interim pastor.

1974 – 1988

The church soon called Rev. John Stacey. The following is a quote from the church bulletin written by Rev. Stacey for the 1974 Homecoming:

The First Baptist Church more than ever is needed in this community. A lighthouse for God, we stand committed to serve Him. We do this through:

Sunday School, led by Mr. John Cooper, has set a goal for this church
year of having 100 in regular attendance in Sunday School. The Sunday School is also promoting a plan for church members to read the Bible through in 1974-75. Church Training, led by Jim Brown trains church members to lead out in the affairs of the church, and to be better Christians. Worship, led by our pastor and active deacons: Everett Brown, John Cooper, Bill Johnson and Andy Johnson. The church continues to meet each week for worship Sunday morning, evening and Wednesday evening. Music, led by Mrs. Pansy Cooper is an important part of our worship experience. The church choir sings regularly and several members participate through individual specials. The youth will soon be forming a choir to sing on Sunday evenings.

The church has an operating budget of $275.45 per week or $14,048.28 a
year. The budget has been consistently met for the past few months. The
mortgage on the pastorium is paid through love offerings and will be completed and burned at Homecoming 1975.

The following improvements have been made:

New carpet in the sanctuary, a new sign in front of the church (painted
by our own Alan Johnson), a portion of the pastorium yard chain-link fenced,
extensive pruning of shrubbery and trees around the church and pastorium,
painting of several classrooms, church nursery remodeled.

Rev. Stacey saw the vision of Holt community growing so a Sunday School classroom addition was begun during his stay.  In 1975 the church bought a used school bus and ran a bus route for a couple of years.

Rev. Stacey pastored the church for five years and feeling the need for seminary training he resigned and entered New Orleans Seminary.

Rev. Stratton Colonna followed Rev, Stacey and pastored the church for five years. Carpet was added to the auditorium during this time. Rev. Colonna resigned to enter an evangelistic work.

Rev. Richard Martin and Rev. Paul James served as an interim pastors after Rev. Colonna.

Soon the church called Rev. Charles Rempel of Oklahoma.  He and the men of the church worked diligently on finishing the additional classrooms.  1986 the work was well finished and classes were held in the addition that was named the “Everett Brown Educational Building”.  Rev. Rempel resigned in 1987 and returned to Oklahoma.

The Friday after Thanksgiving in 1987, Rev. Floyd and his family moved into the pastoruim after being called by the church as Pastor. His vision is to fill the
auditorium and the balcony with people to capacity for all services.  He and his wife, Irene, have encouraged and accomplished beautification of both church buildings and the pastorium. Much renovation has already been done on the pastorium and plans have been drawn for a new educational building.  Rev. Floyd also has a vision for a bus ministry in Holt.

This is a very brief review of the 100-year history of the First Baptist Church of Holt. We thank our Heavily Father for his love and the opportunity to serve Him in our community for a century. ‘We pray that the history of our church will
always reflect loyalty and devotion to Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

1989 – Present

Rev. Terry Floyd served from 1987 to 1995.  (Eight years).  In 1994-95 the church acquired the property to the east of us.  (lot 120)

Rev. Tallmadge Smith served as interim Pastor.

In 1996, the church called Rev. Russell Taylor as Pastor and he served until 1999.

Pastor Richard Martin again served us as interim Pastor until June of 2000.


The church called Rev. David Wheat.  (2000 – 2007)  During his ministry the church sent out several members to assist missionaries in other countries.  Hurricane Ivan damaged church property in September of 2004; however, the damage was covered by insurance.  In 2006, the FBC auditorium was renovated: the carpet was replaced, windows were replaced and vertical blinds were added.  Also, the original pews were replaced by comfortable padded chairs. A storage building was added at the pastorium. Rev. David Wheat was a passionate evangelist under whose leadership saw amazing church growth and zeal for the salvation of lives throughout the Holt community.

After the Wheat’s moved out of the parsonage, it was again renovated. Some of the improvements were complete Kitchen renovation, new shelving in the “study”, new carpet and flooring, paint and landscaping the exterior.

In 2008 the Church acquired the last remaining lot in the church block (lot 126).

In early 2008, Dr. Fred Sanford joined us as Pastor;.  He was a native of
this area in that was born and raised in Baker. After college, he entered the
ministry and served as pastor of several churches around the SE US.  He and his wife Gail had also served on the mission field as missionaries in Africa.
Rev. Sanford served FBC Holt until the end of 2010 at which time he retired.  The church experienced good growth during his tenure and the congregation was sad to see them go.

Rev. Francis Picker served as Interim Pastor from January 3, 2011 until May 14

Rev. Curtis Rainey became Pastor on May 15, 2011. Rev. Rainey had served FBC of Holt as youth Minister from 2002 – 2005, at which time he left us to complete his ministerial education at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Upon completion of his seminary degree, he has come back to FBC-Holt and currently serves as Senior Pastor.

FBC-Holt Church History