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Shingle Creek Methodist Church celebrates 150 years in Osceola

Posted on Friday, March 4, 2016 at 10:46 am

The Shingle Creek Methodist Church in Kissimmee is celebrating 125 years. News-Gazette Photo/Marc Clery

The Shingle Creek Methodist Church in Kissimmee is celebrating 125 years. News-Gazette Photo/Marc Clery

By Peter Covino
A&E Editor
In 1865, the Civil War was ending. The New York Stock Exchange opened its first permanent headquarters on Wall Street. The first U.S. pipeline carrying oil was laid in Pennsylvania.
And, in what is now Osceola County, in the area now known as Shingle Creek, a group of settlers including Henry Overstreet, were forming the Shingle Creek Methodist Church.
The church is celebrating 150 years, but for the most part, it is business as usual in the small community church, said Pastor Arch Fisher, the 52nd individual to hold its pastor title.
No one knows the exact date the church, now located at 2420 Old Vineland Road in Kissimmee, got started, but a congregation of some sort occurred in the area between 1856 and 1860, with the church itself beginning soon afterward.
It was Overstreet, one of the earliest pioneers in Central Florida, who essentially got things started when he, his wife, Mary, and their eight children came to the area in a covered wagon from Georgia.
Overstreet and the other residents originally had worship services under a brush arbor they erected with the first wooden church following. He deeded the 10 acres for the church and cemetery. According to historical records, it had split log floors, and the Overstreets were the church’s first members. A circuit-riding preacher named Rev. R.L Reaves served as the first minister.
The log church eventually burned and, in 1893, was replaced with a plank building that over the years was also used as a school. It also was not an organized church until that year. While Rev. J.A. Hendry was pastor, the wooden sanctuary was built and a Methodist Episcopal Church South was organized and was recognized as Shingle Creek Church. The wooden sanctuary was used until 1964, when the current sanctuary was built.
While the original building is gone, the Shingle Creek Cemetery, located behind the church, remains. Some of the grave markers date back to the mid 1800s, with names that are familiar to long-time Osceola residents — Bronson, Yates, Spence, Tyner, Padgett, Ivey, Overstreet, Keen, Lemons, Short, Prescott, Ingram, Prevatt, Cromarties, Johnston, Burkhart, Steffee, Iverson.
Members of the Shingle Creek community are still using the cemetery.
In 1968, the Methodist churches merged with the Evangelical Brethren Church becoming the United Methodist Church.
The Shingle Creek church continues to be a homey place.
“Currently our regular attendance for Sunday worship is about 25,” Pastor Fisher said. “During these winter months our attendance grows to about 60.”
Fisher is a relative newcomer to Osceola County, especially compared to how long the church has been in existence.
He was assigned to pastor the church by Bishop Ken Carter, Resident Bishop of the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church, on July 1, 2015, he said. “Both my wife Chris and I were born and raised in South Jersey just across the river from Philadelphia,” he said.
They moved to Florida in August of 2012 and have four daughters and four grandsons.
The small church is actually beginning to grow again, Fisher said.
“We have reopened our food pantry helping others in our community,” he said.
The pantry is open on the last Wednesday of each month from 10 a.m. to noon. This has become a community effort as other churches and organizations have joined in the effort.
The church is also changing with the times of Osceola County.
A Hispanic congregation, Comunidad Cristiana Casa del Alferaro led by Pastor Daniel Martinez, will begin meeting on the campus in April.
“We are really excited about this as our two congregations will begin working together to advance the kingdom of God,” he said.
Also, beginning this month, Marcas Promesa, a healing and restoration center will move to our campus. They offer counseling, support groups, Sanidad Interior (inner healing) and violence prevention. Marlen Fernandez leads this organization.
The church also held a fall festival a few months ago to help celebrate 150 years, and it is being planned as an annual event, Fisher said. Everyone is invited to the church this weekend (Saturday) to take part in their spaghetti supper from 5-7 p.m. It’s all you can eat spaghetti for $7 (kids eat free).
And on May 7, the church will host gospel-singing group, The Keffers.