G. R. West was born June 10, 1914. He grew up in Kentucky and graduated from Lloyd High School in Erlinger, Kentucky. He attended business college in Covington, Kentucky and also attended Central Bible College in Springfield, Missouri. He is married to the former Edith Hite of Covington. Kentucky.
The building fund for a new worship center that had begun under the ministry of Leo Barnes was continuing to grow. The new pastor wasted no time in getting his programs under way. On January 5, 1955 Brother West gave a pastor's report that included the following recommendations: "(1) That we plan to elect deacons at our next business meeting, to serve on rotation system; (2) that we keep the congregation informed as to Sunday School, Training Union and financial progress: (3) a meeting of building committee, January 24: (4) (that the) Advisory Committee, composed of all department heads, meet during month; (5) that each member support [thel church program with presence, talents, and money, and that each non-resident church member be contacted, urging them to find a local church home: (6) (that we] be prepared to take our part in Church Transfer Week beginning September 18; (7) that we vote urging Brotherhood and W.M.S. to lead toward a cottage prayer meeting in each of their homes; and as many others as possible; (8) thai: entertainment and other details of revival be in charge of Advisory Committee, which will report to the Church: (9) that we give every possible encouragement to the Brotherhood: (10) that Church purchase church stationery: (11) that Sunday School Committee be given the authority to fill vacancies in Sunday School during year, subject to church approval; (12! Sunday School Committee be prepared to be represented in Vacation Bible School Clinic either February 21-25 or March 21-25."
At the February 9, 1955 business meeting Brother West encouraged the membership by recommending "that we continue to preach, teach and practice tithing; that we keep clear of any and all unscriptural practices of buying, selling and merchandising; that we maintain only one true scriptural way of providing for our churchesí needs."
In his May 4, 1955 pastor's report to the Church, Brother West stated, "Because of your fine help in the Assigned Visitation Program we are making about one hundred contacts each month."
The Church had begun to grow. The Sunday School average attendance for April 1955 was 217.
The Building Committee on May 4 recommended "that the church purchase the property ( that lies across the alley to the west of our present location. This property is owned by Mr. Curry and is available for the price of $5,000. We further recommend that the proposed new church building be built on the new property."
Vacation Bible School in 1955 showed a total enrollment of 155 with an average attendance of 129. The mission offering was $64.50 and was given to the Cooperative Program. The grade of standard was awarded the VBS.
Eau Gallie was growing and the space Age was about to cause the area to have an influx of people that would stagger the imagination. Pastor West would have the opportunity to deal with the challenge of this growth, for the Sunday School would reach its highest point of its 100-year history in 1960 with an enrollment of 971 and an average attendance of 494. Obviously, this caused overcrowded conditions and led to the construction of more education space as well as a new worship center.
The proposed budget for the 1955-1956 church year was adopted on September 14, 1955. The amount was $11,252.00 for the year.
Groundbreaking service for new worship center 1956
Hugh Beasley of Mims, Florida was selected to hold a revival in March 1957. The pastor, Brother West, shared his concern about the building of the worship center in his May report to the Church. He stated: "We have come a long way in a year and a half, having bought the property and begun building. The church will be a house that we can be happy about. It is taking shape but we face a critical time, either bringing the operation to a close or raising the extra money needed for material and labor.
Your pastor calls on each one to renew your faith in the goodness of God and to redouble your own efforts to bring about the completion of the building."
At a special called business meeting on June 19, 1957 the following resolution from the Trustees, Deacons, Building Committee and Finance Committee regarding obtaining a loan for the new church building was unanimously adopted: "That the trustees of the First Baptist Church of Eau Gallie are hereby authorized and instructed to borrow the sum of $18,000 from the First National Bank of Eau Gallie to be repayable $150.00 per month plus interest at the rate of 6% per annum for the first 12 months of said loan and then to be repaid $450.00 per month plus interest at the rate of 6% per annum for the next 36 months.
"The loan shall be secured by a first mortgage upon the church's property described at Lots 1 and 2, Block 23, Plat of Eau Gallie." At the July 10, 1957 business meeting the pastor stated that the loan of $18,000 had gone through. The Nominating Committee was selected in August 1957 and was comprised of Mr. Jack McBride, Mrs. Judy Richards, Mrs. Jessie Stewart, Mr. Wally Haite, Mrs. John Downs, Mrs. J. A. Phelps, Mr. Norman Mossman, Mrs. Whited, and Mrs. Kate DeLoach.
New Worship Center Dedication - November 24, 1957
The budget for 1957-1958 showed a total of $15,888.00 which amounted to $411.53 per week or $1.35 per resident church member. It was stipulated that 17% of all undesignated gifts were to be given to missions through the Cooperative Program.
Pastor West commented to the Church on December 4, 1957. "The first two months of this current church year have been high points in our history. We have finished and moved into the new church. The attendance has increased since the first day in the new building.
Revival February 15 - 24, 1958
"The question is often asked, 'Do you think that you have built it big enough?' We are sure that if we were to enlist all of the Baptist People who live here it would already take another house this size to accommodate them. If it becomes necessary to hold two morning services before the Winter season is over, we are preparing to do so."
Pastor West wrote in February 1958 that "our overall organization and work continues to improve. Our most serious loss comes with the resignation of Joe Cupp as our Sunday School Superintendent. we ask you to be prayerful as a replacement is selected. This will be of interest to you for on January 1, 1958 we had 620 enrolled in Sunday School and on February 1 we have 646 enrolled. This is becoming a big Sunday School."
The budget for 1958-1959 was presented and the total amount was $32,680 57. A request from the choir at the September 10, 1958 business meeting reads as follows: "We, the members of the choir, ask the church in conference to consider appropriating $127.20 plus transportation charges for the purchasing of 30 white renovated choir robes and collars at $5.95 each. We have on hand $62.50 to add to this amount since the full cost of the robes amounts to $189.70. We feel this is a very reasonable price since we have inquired and found that new robes are $16.00 to $19.00 apiece. The thirty robes would take care of all who would be in the choir plus the pianist and organist."
The pastor's report for December 10, 1958 contained several recommendations. He urged the Building Committee to begin some plans for the campsite given to the church by Mr. and Mrs. Marvin Vann. He further recommended that Mother's Day 1959 be set as a completion date for the steeple, as well as concern that some agreement be made with Mr. Garland Reynolds concerning the lots behind the present sanctuary.
The March 4, 1959 business meeting saw the matter of another pastorium discussed. This was brought forth by Mr. Vance Bell. The home of Mr. and Mrs. Combs on Oak Street was for sale for $15 000 with no interest and $100.00 per month paid to Mr. Combs. A binder of $100.00 was to be placed on the property for a period of 45 days. Mr. Newton put before the people that we cannot ask
Mr. West and family are to live where they are with a two-story building within five feet of the pastorium. This was unanimously approved. There is some question as to whether or not this property was ever purchased
The Youth Week officers for March 1959 were as follows:
Pastor - Skip Broome
Sunday School Superintendent - Larene Henley
Training Union Director - Jennings Brown
W.M.U. President - Sue Layne
Brotherhood President - Picky Mossman
Church Clerk - Dorothy Coggins
Chairman of Deacons - James Grantham
Adult Sunday School Supt - Fred Troglin
Young People S. S. Supt. - Phillip Deck
Intermediate S. S. Supt. - Sue Henley
Junior S. S. Supt. - Fatsy Law
Ushers - Jerry Tickle, Chairman, Ralph West, James Lee, Danny Aiken. Ed Jones, Bill Jungbluth
The beginning of Bowe Gardens Baptist Church was to take shape when the Missions Committee made a recommendation to the church on March 22, 1959.
"A committee was selected from this church to work on the proposed Mission Church sponsored by the Melbourne Baptist Church, to find out how we can take part in this mission. The Committee will bring back a definite report at a later date. Do we want such a committee? Four of our men all living in the Bowe Gardens area are on the committee. They are: Mr. Thurman Cobb, Rev. Paul Hendley, Bill Hawkins and Mr. B. B. Nelson.'"
The May 13, 1959 Church minutes read as follows: "The Committee had a meeting Thursday 7th, following trip to Jacksonville, where Mr. Cobb and Mr. West attended the State Board of Mission Conference, to apply for a loan for Bowe Gardens Baptist Chapel property. Their application was accepted and they were granted $9,000.00. At this meeting of Thursday 7th, they considered the policies for Regulation of Relationship between First Baptist and its Missions."
In September 1959 construction had begun on the first unit for Bowe Gardens Baptist Chapel. Things were reported as progressing nicely.
The actual execution of the loans for Bowe Gardens took place as a result of the December 9, 1959 business meeting. The Missions Committee report read as follows:
"1. A motion is made that the trustees of the First Baptist Church of Eau Gallie, Florida, a non-profit corporation, be authorized to direct and execute a note in the amount of $9,000.00 from the State Board of Missions of the Florida Baptist Convention, for the purchase of site for Bowe Gardens Chapel. Description of property attached.
2. A motion is hereby made that the Trustees of First Baptist Church of Eau Gallie, Florida, a non-profit corporation be authorized and directed to execute a note and mortgage in the amount of $10,000.00 to Leonard F. Hull. and Ruth G. Hull, which will bear interest at the rate of five and one half per cent (5- 1/2) per annum payable semi-annually. Both recommendations approved and carried."
There is a note concerning the first recommendation that refers back to April 8, 1959 which may explain why this motion is being approved, but work had already begun on the Mission.Steeple Bell Added 1959