Lordy, Lordy, look who's 40

Village Baptist Church celebrates 40th anniversary

Annie Blanks | 315-4450 | @DestinLogAnnie | ablanks@thedestinlog.com
The original Village Baptist Church and steeple was constructed in the late 1970s. SPECIAL TO THE LOG

Although they have been around for 40 years, there’s no mid-life crisis for Village Baptist Church in Destin.

Instead, the decades-old church is celebrating its years of service to the community and looking forward to years of service to come.

The church, located on Matthew Boulevard in Destin, was founded in 1976 by twelve families who were looking for a bible-based worship alternative to Destin’s existing churches. Peggy Walls and her husband Eugene were one of those families.

“We wanted to start a church that was bible-based,” Walls said. “We got together in each other’s homes to start with, and then we eventually voted to begin a building program.”

Eugene Walls was principal of Destin Elementary School at the time. He got permission for the families to meet in classrooms while the church was being built.

“The classrooms were Sunday School rooms and the auditorium was our sanctuary,” she said. “A year and a half we spent building that church. We thought it was the boondocks at the time. There was nothing down there at all, which is amazing now, isn’t it?”

The first pastor of the church was Dr. Jeb Brister, and the first baptisms were in the Gulf of Mexico.

Church leaders used bonds to purchase three acres from Bernie Henderson, who owned what is now Henderson Beach State Park and sits adjacent to the church today. Walls said Al Christopher drew up the original church plans on cardboard and worked alongside the other families to construct the first of the buildings.

Today, the Village Baptist Church campus is comprised of five buildings and includes a preschool, a coffee shop and a sanctuary that can seat 1,350 people. Pastor Steven A. Davies said the church aims to spread the gospel to all corners of the Earth, and focuses largely on international mission work as well as local community outreach.

“Mission is a big part of who we are,” Davies said, adding that church members have taken up mission work in North Africa, the Ukraine, Great Britain, and Maui.

He said though the church has expanded from its humble beginnings, at least three things have stayed the same.

“The church has stayed the same in that it believes the Bible to be the inspired, infallible and inerrant word of God, it exhibits dependence upon the Lord and guidance of the Holy Spirit and it lifts up the name of Jesus,” Davies said.

The church also stays busy with various community outreach programs, including Angel Tree, a food pantry and counseling services. Church members also recently donated 8,500 diapers to Florida Baptist Children’s Home.

Church administrator Mickey Campbell said the church has a large visitor following, making it possible to spread their message to a lot of different places.

“At any given time, 25 to 30 percent (of churchgoers) are visitors,” Campbell said. “That means at any given time, we have people from the majority of the United States. We get our message of the gospel out to people from all over the country.”

Church services take place Sunday mornings at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. and Wednesday nights at 6 p.m. For more information, visit www.villagebaptist.org