In 1986 the members of the First Baptist Church of Ocala voted to relocate to a suburban location. Those who wanted to maintain a witness to the downtown Ocala area immediately formed the Downtown Baptist Church in Organization.
It was the intent of Downtown Baptist Church to purchase the First Baptist Church facility following its relocation. However, on October 24, 1991, a tragic fire destroyed the sanctuary of the historic First Baptist Church and left the remaining educational building severely damaged. The sad news was reported throughout the United States and around the world by the Associated Press and Cable News Network.
Still determined to maintain a Southern Baptist presence in the downtown area, a small group of Downtown Baptist members started holding services at Fort King Baptist Church in March of 1992. Pastor Walter Markham served as shepherd of the small flock. On June 14, Downtown Baptist Church moved its services to the Marion County Government Complex.
The Constitution of Downtown Baptist Church took place on July 12, 1992 at the Government Complex. One-hundred five Charter members came forward to be received into the fellowship of the church.
Still without a permanent home and unable to purchase the land and fire damaged site of the First Baptist Church, Downtown Baptist Church bought the Mount Vernon Lodge. Formally a motel and then a Senior Adult Retirement Community, this property is strategically located on East Silver Springs Boulevard. First services were held at our new location on October 11, 1992. Dedication Sunday (November 22) featured Director John Sullivan of the Florida Baptist Convention. The dream which was born in 1986 became a reality.
After several years of considerable growth, the church suffered a decline in membership and several changes in leadership. The buildings deteriorated and much of the property ultimately became unusable. It was determined that the property should be sold and new land purchased within the city limits.
In June of 2005, a seven acre parcel of property was purchased on NE 25thAvenue. Over the next two years, the Downtown property was sold and the church moved to the Marion Baptist Association building while the new site was developed. The church changed its name to Woodside Baptist Church and moved into its new facilities in October, 2007, debt free.
The future looks bright for our church as the people commit to following God’s will. With God’s help, Woodside Baptist Church will continue to grow! Woodside Baptist Church is a caring, friendly, mission-oriented, committed group of believers who are determined to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. It is a Bible-centered, Southern Baptist Church which seeks to be a spiritual lighthouse in the Ocala area. Our mission is to reach Ocala for Christ in word and in deed.