1850's - Leesburg, FL settled with land grants given to people who "would farm and
fight the Indians"
1869 - First Presbyterian Church (FPC) founded with a Session of two Ruling Elders
1875 - Leesburg population is 150, 23% of whom are members of FPC
1876 - First installed pastor at FPC, the Reverend John Daniel
1883 - First church building on the corner of Main and Perkins streets, Leesburg
1890 - FPC membership is 73; Women's Missionary Society organized
1894-95 - The Big Freeze devastates the area; economy slows, church expansion halted; FPC locks the doors and worships at the Baptist church on alternate Sunday Evenings; church would not have another pastor until 1907
1903 - FPC membership at 23
1907 - The Reverend Charles Kingsley becomes pastor; membership increases
1914 - Two members censored "for contumely action" and suspended from the Ordinances of the Church "until they exhibit their repentance" (Dictionary defines "contumely" as contemptuous or arrogant language or treatment)
1916 - The outdoor "toilet room" was disposed of (presumably this means that indoor plumbing had arrived)
1920's - Membership reached 200; church building remodeled and enlarged; manse built on church property; pipe organ installed; Session opposes baseball game and motion picture on a Sunday evening
1930's - The Women of the Church had become the principal fund raisers for building Improvements; in 1932 the women took responsibility for raising $400 to balance the annual budget; in 1934 church organist paid $10 per month
1940's - A decade of growth
1950's - Membership reaches 400; church moves to S Lone Oak Drive; Fellowship Hall built in 1958
The Reverend Robert D. Alexander served as pastor at FPC from 1967 to 1993. These were good years for the church with membership reaching 800 and the construction of the present sanctuary in 1970. Rev. Alexander instilled in the congregation a strong sense of Mission that continues today. In 2018 the church will hold its 50th Annual Mission Conference.
In the late 90's the church entered into a period of decline. Membership dropped from the high of 800 to 530 in 2003. After 2003, membership declined sharply to 290 by 2010. These losses mirrored the national trend in Christian churches during these difficult years.
In 2012 a split in the congregation was precipitated by the pastor's strong objections to actions taken by the General Assembly. About a third of the members followed the departing pastor and formed a new church in the area. The resulting turmoil diminished the congregation to a low of 35 in worship attendance by the end of the year.
Under the leadership of the Reverend Roy Sharpe, Interim Pastor, FPC developed a strategy to reverse the decline in membership and attendance. Vision 2016 included:
First Presbyterian Church in not the church it was five years ago. Today we are growing not declining. Average worship attendance has increased 150% from that of 2012. Membership and attendance today are better than before the split in 2012. Congregational giving has been increased to a level that supports the additional staff and program of a thriving church. 10% of congregational giving goes directly to Mission causes. Worship is marked by excellent music, outstanding preaching, and the liberal use of drama, dance and the visual arts. The spirit in the congregation is enthusiastic, committed, and loving.
In the spring of 2017 the church raised $250,000 above the operating budget for renovation and upgrades of the worship center. In 2018 we will renovate the kitchen and Fellowship Hall and add new landscaping for the campus. By any measure, the long winter of decline has been arrested. We look forward to the challenges and opportunities God will set before us in the days and years to come.
200 South Lone Oak Dr.Leesburg, FL 34748