In 1930, the members of a small but thriving holiness movement located in eastern Leon County chose to become a part of the Church of God of Prophecy over which A. J. Tomlinson was General Overseer, thus beginning its history as the Miccosukee Church of God of Prophecy. Many stories have been told from various perspectives about how this local Church came to be. The majority of the information in this document was taken from the historical sketch which was included in the program published in 1975 at the dedication of the present church building.
What is now the Miccosukee Church of God of Prophecy began around 1913, when a number of people in the local area heard of holiness and decided that they wanted to know more. Shortly thereafter, a church was organized with services being held in the home of one of the members. Later a building called the “Mission” was erected. The church was called the “mission” because of the newness of this type of church in this area.
For quite a while the “Mission” was in or near a wooded area. However, its faithful members thought nothing of its location; what was important was the presence of the Lord that they felt when they assembled together. During these early years many signs and wonders followed the believers and the church grew in membership leading to the need of a larger building. The church trustees came together and purchased a small plot of land nearer to the road and erected a larger frame building. This building was modified over the years, but it was the house of worship for the church until 1970. At that time the pastor and the members agreed that due to changes in the community (with most of the members no longer lived in the surrounding area), and since the road where the church was located was unpaved and subject to flooding during periods severe rainstorms, it would be better to hold services in the building which formerly housed the Miccosukee #2 Church of God of Prophecy. (These two congregations had already merged, but services were held in both locations on alternating Sundays.)
During the early years, the local church was associated with the Apostolic movement, which was the only holiness movement in the area. However, several of the members had visions of the Church of God even before they had been introduced to it.
Among those in the early organization of the church were General and Lucy Cook, Tom and Henrietta Duhart, Walter and Idella Bryant, Elias and Mary Simms, Silla Forbes, Georgia McCloud, Henrietta Bell, Cora Shaw, Emma Hart, Mary Burney, and others. By the early 1920’s, the membership also included Semmie Forbes, a young woman of 21. In addition, there were Albert and Hattie Ann Turner, Lucius Duhart and his wife, Chester and Lucy Duhart, Corine Randolph, Mamie Cason, and Lilla Payne. With continual prayer and witnessing these reached and won others so that by 1927, the membership also included Nathaniel and Nettie Turner, Precious Williams, Baul and Frances Turner William, Annie Braswell Cleveland, Susie Townsend, David Cook, Edith and Bartow Davis, and others who have long gone to be with the Lord. During this same time a prayer house was set up in the very vicinity in which the local church stands today.
As the membership increased and members came from farther and farther away, a second church was established in the community of Miccosukee under the leadership of Nathaniel Turner. Thus the “Mission” became Miccosukee #1 and the newly established church became Miccosukee #2.
Among the early pastors of the church (Miccosukee #1) were R. Simmons, Lucius Duhart, P. E. Ramsey, C. W. Ross and General Cook. It was General Cook who recommended the Church to the Church of God, of which A. J. Tomlinson was Overseer. Thus under the pastorate of Lucius Duhart in 1930, the local church became united with the Church of God.
According to those who were there, taking the covenant and becoming a part of the Great Church of God were great spiritual and historical events. They also recognize this time as the fulfillment of a vision seen by several members. However, Nettie Turner had given specific details including the coming of a brass band. On the night that the “Mission” united with the Church of God, her vision was fulfilled when a bus load of members of the Church of God came from South Florida with a great brass band whose music, along with a great out-pouring of the Holy Ghost, seemed to be sent as a seal of approval from heaven. For as long as they lived, those who were at that great event found reason to rejoice whenever they recalled its memory.
Soon after the “Mission” united with the Church of God, General Cook returned as pastor, and remained until 1958, when Nathaniel Turner took on the pastorate. Nathaniel Turner was the pastor of both Miccosukee #1 and #2 concurrently until his death in 1962. However, for a short period from 1945 until 1949-50, when he was called to a new field in Louisiana, J. B. Beckwith served as pastor of Miccosukee #1.
Upon the death of Nathaniel Turner, Joseph Rolle, a dynamic and spiritual young man from South Florida, became the pastor. Brother Rolle served as pastor until the summer of 1964. At the same time Sister Lucy Cook, the widow of General Cook, was appointed to Miccosukee #2 where she served until she remarried and went with her new husband to Homestead, Florida.
In 1964, J. B. Beckwith became Pastor of the “Mission” while Eddie Curry served as pastor of Miccosukee #2. A year or so later, J. B. Beckwith was appointed to pastor both congregations. The buildings of both the Mission and Miccosukee # 2 began to show much wear but because the Mission was located off a dirt road and on a long field road, severe rains and floods made it nearly impossible to reach at times. At some point the members began to talk of moving the larger building to a site on the paved road. The church negotiated a loan and purchased plot of land for this purpose. But problems with arranging to move the building slowed the progress to such an extent that the members began to feel that building from the ground would be best.
Once the desire to build took hold, various members, as they felt he urge, would hold fundraisers (mostly dinner sales or rallies) to help build up a treasury for the new building. Although the numbers were small, their faith was strong and the Lord multiplied the funds. The members recognized the hand of the Lord in their work through special offerings and in-kind donations. Leonard Forbes Sr., husband of Semmie Forbes, and Father and Grandfather of several of the members, though not a member himself, became concerned that the land on which the church wanted to build was located on a blind curve. He pointed out that this could be dangerous for people trying to go to and from the church. Therefore he offered a “good acre of land worth building on” in trade for the original plot. This offer was accepted and all legal paperwork was signed and filed.
“And the people had a mind to work.” Willie Forbes was appointed building supervisor and program director. In 1972, a design was selected and by March, 1973, building plans were drafted. During the next three months the paperwork was completed and ground was broken for the building. By October of 1973, the walls were going up. When the walls were up, the brothers came together and put the roof trusses in place. The building was really taking shape.
Work continued as funds became available and by May of 1974, the first program was held in the unfinished building. Throughout the summer of 1974, it became apparent that the end was in sight. The building was almost complete. By faith the director arranged for carpet to be installed and pews were ordered. The members were ready to go into the building although it was not entirely finished.
On the 3rd Sunday in October, 1974, regular worship services were begun in the present building, knowing that the Lord was with us and by faith he would see us through to the end. We planned a dedication service. Sister Lallye Forbes went to work collecting stories and writing a history to be included in the souvenir program booklet. On Sunday, May 4, 1975, the building was dedicated with a grand program. Several representatives from the State church offices were in attendance. Bishop C. I. Mackey prayed a prayer of dedication and Bishop Elwood Mathews preached the Dedication Message.
What a wonderful day that was! We had reached a milestone. As a church with a newly minted edifice, we went forth to become the church that God wanted us to be.
Bishop J. B. Beckwith continued to serve as our pastor until 1991, when he was appointed to the Perry Church after the death of his wife Sister Ola Bell Beckwith. During his tenure, the church grew and prospered. All the auxiliaries were functioning and the young people were encouraged to attend camps, conferences, etc. Many times Bishop Beckwith would drive them to these events himself. In later years he would rent vans for them and assign someone else to drive them. He was always determined that our young people not miss out on opportunities due to lack of money or transportation. If they had a desire to go, he would find a way. Brother Leonard Forbes Jr., purchased a van and used it to pick up anyone who desired to attend services at Miccosukee. The choir grew and became well known for its spirit filled singing. A youth choir was formed. The church became a place where community member knew they could come when they were in need of spiritual or temporal help. Pastors-to-be were trained and encouraged to go forth. We continued to improve the building by installing central heat and air conditioning.
In 1991, Brother Kenneth Knowles was appointed to be our pastor and it was apparent that he had a heart for the work. Following in the footsteps of Bishop Beckwith, he continued to encourage the youth, the choir, and all the auxiliaries. Our youth began to enter and win district talent competitions. Under the leadership of Brother Knowles, the Choir stand was extended and the altar was remodeled. The building was re-carpeted and pews were re-upholstered.
Brother Knowles served until 1994, when he went to be with the Lord after an extended illness. Bishop Beckwith again served as interim pastor until Sister Daisy Young was appointed to serve as our next pastor.
Sister Young was a strong woman of God who had been trained under Bishop J.B. Beckwith. She was a “home-grown” pastor who served with determination and zeal realizing that she had some big shoes to fill. Despite the challenges that she faced Sis Young was a hard-working pastor who taught under the anointing. She had a heart for children and saw to it that the children’s church became an important part of our church. Sister Young served until 1996.
In 1996 Bishop Almando Mullings, the son-in-law of our longest serving pastor, was appointed pastor, and he continues in that role until the present time.
The Miccosukee Church of God of Prophecy continues. Weathering many up and downs, the Church remains a small but vibrant body. Through the years our congregation has witnessed and hosted Revivals, Christenings, Funerals, Weddings, Concerts, Dramas, Workshops, Conferences, Conventions, Dinners, Union Meetings, Family Reunions, Civic Meetings, etc. We continue with Sunday School, weekly Sunday Services, Weekly Prayer Meetings and Bible Study, and other activities found at a local church.
The last chapter of this history remains to be
written, but by faith we will continue to be a light in the community pointing
souls to Christ.