About Old West
It was in 1865 after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation that two former slaves who grew up in West Virginia were moved by God to organize the first Primitive Baptist Church in the state of Florida. The Elders W. A. McDonald and Henry McDonald, along with Henry’s wife and seven children held services under a brush harbor in Leon County. In later years, the congregation moved to the city of Tallahassee, FL.
After other churches were established in different North FL and South GA communities, it was decided that the congregations would come
together and develop a parent body church. The founding fathers gathered in Midway, FL at the St. John Primitive Baptist Church, with Elder Henry McDonald serving as Moderator. Officers were selected, operational procedures were established, and designated meeting dates were set. Therefore, on June 15, 1866 the framework of our present discipline was formulated and the FL Primitive Baptist Association was officially begun. As time passed the number of member churches grew and consequently during the 2nd Annual meeting it was necessary to divide which resulted in the Middle FL Primitive Baptist Association being organized.
In 1869, the Old West FL Primitive Baptist Association was born and the Elder Prince Sanders presiding as its first moderator. Over the decades, Elders R. Bradham, J. Gardney, C.T. HIllard and P.E. Hinson served as Association Moderators. The first written records of the Association’s Women Congress were documented in 1924.
In 1950 Elder M. Melton was elected as moderator and served until his death in 1959; in 1960, Vice Moderator, the Elder Sam Mann, was elected Moderator. In 1969, Old West celebrated its Centennial year.
Proverbs 29:18 tells us that “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepth the law, happy(blessed) is he.” Elder Mann envisioned a central meeting facility for the Association. He led the Association through many dangers, toils, and snares and was called to his eternal home thereby leaving Vice Moderator, the Elder George H. Wilson as his successor. Elder Wilson served from 1974 to 1977 resulting in him being granted the title of Emeritus.
The vision continues with then Vice Moderator Clinton Smith being elected to serve as Moderator and the Elder James Austin as Vice Moderator. On its 14 ½ acres of land located on Lake Bradford Rd. Tallahassee, FL, Old West Association began construction on what is now known as the “Old West FL Enrichment Center; a facility that is 2nd to none in the State.
After many years of dedicated service, the Elder James Austin chose to resign as Vice Moderator and his successor was the Elder Otis H. Walker. The Association continued to be blessed by the hand of God through the leadership and services of Moderator Smith and Vice Moderator Harry Cloud.
In 2006, “‘from vision to blueprint to physical fruition”, a ribbon cutting ceremony and celebration was held, marking the official opening of the Old West FL Enrichment Center and Central Meeting Place. Finally, all of its 38 churches would be able to meet together under one roof for all Annual meetings; To God be the Glory.
In 2008, Elder Smith retired as Moderator and the body elected Elder Harry Cloud Moderator and Elder Doc Ward Vice Moderator. These brothers served untiringly. In July 2015 Elder Ward became Moderator and the Elder Lewis Anderson was appointed Interim Vice Moderator. During the Annual Association meeting in October 2015, the body elected the Elder Dr. Chris A. Burney as Moderator and the Elder Kenton Floyd as Vice Moderator.
No man is an island, therefore Old West Association is no different. The Association cannot make it without its Auxiliaries: The Church School Convention, District 5th Sunday Unions, the Women Congress, the Laymen Congress, and its Youth and Young Adult Congress. Through the grace of God, all of these ministry groups help the Old West Primitive Baptist Association in accomplishing it Mission; building the Kingdom of God.