History of the Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit, Safety Harbor,
Since the 16th century, long before her
establishment, the Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit was conceived to become
part of the beautiful city of Safety Harbor. On the Feast day of Pentecost, May 15, 1597,
Hernando DeSoto found his way to the shores of what is now known as Safety
Harbor, where he allegedly discovered five mineral springs and named them
Springs of the Holy Spirit (Espiritu Santo Springs).
The Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit, is located not a
mile from DeSoto's landing point. In 1911
an unorganized group of faithful worshippers, who had been gathering to pray in
each other's homes since 1855, decided to formally establish a congregation,
which led to the construction and establishment of their first church building
in 1914. Members of these families, the
Tuckers and Baileys, who have headstones in our churchyard cemetery, deeded the
land in 1911.
The church structure has had many incarnations in its long
and sometimes rocky history.
original building, a Florida Gothic style, was erected in 1914 and continued on
site until 1988, when it was physically moved to its present location on the
grounds of DaySpring, the Episcopal Conference Center in Ellenton,
A retired army building was
brought on site to serve as a parish hall.
Finally, in 1979, the current sanctuary was built.
The congregation has donated much of the
labor over the years.
As you will read, the Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit,
the body of Christ, her members, through God's blessings, has continued and
persevered for over a hundred years. Those members, along with new members
continue to journey toward spiritual growth, and serve together in the many
outreach ministries for which the church is being called to respond.
Source (1911-2000) “The Mission by the Springs” by Stewart Davis, Jr.
• 1911 - Captain James Felix and Mrs.
Virginia Bailey Tucker deeded the land
including the site of our present church to the Missionary District of
Southern Florida. In 1913, the land was
consecrated by the Right Reverend William Crane Cray, the first Bishop of the
Missionary District of Southern Florida.
• 1914 - The Holy
Spirit Mission was constructed by a volunteer congregation with lumber donated
by Mr. George Booth. The first church service
was held at the mission by the Reverend A.E. Cornish. The city of Safety Harbor was incorporated in
1917, so the church is older than the city.
• 1915-1919 - Reverend Lucas G. Fourier of
All Saints Church, Tarpon Springs was appointed Priest in Charge and
administered communion on one Sunday a month to approximately 30 attendees.
• 1919 - Reverend Rudolph Nagle, also from
All Saints, provided the monthly services. In 1923, Fr. Nagle was able to provide full
time services at Holy Spirit which had a congregation of about 75 people including
approximately 40 children.
• 1935 - Fr. Nagle died and the mission went
without a priest from 1935-1939 while a small but faithful congregation
continued to meet when a visiting priest could be found.
• 1940 - Currently the land being used as a
parking lot on the east side of Philippe Parkway was deeded to the church by
Virginia Tucker, in hopes that it could be used for a rectory.
• 1941 - Reverend Roger Charnock, from the
Diocese of Pennsylvania, was appointed Vicar.
• 1942-1945 - Reverend Charles Adams was
appointed Vicar, followed by Reverend Arnold Charnock, Curator at the Church of
the Ascension, Clearwater. For three
years, Fr. Charnock was also assigned to churches in New Port Richey, Tarpon
Springs, Dunedin, as well as, Safety Harbor.
He provided services at each location every Sunday. During that time, Holy Spirit had
approximately 30 members and 3 vestry members.
• 1946 - A retired army building was
acquired and was used as the church parish hall. During the same year, Fr. Charnock was
transferred to St. Bartholomew in St. Petersburg and provided services for both
churches. Fr. Charnock and acolytes were
flown between churches each Sunday in a plane owned and operated by a Mr.
• 1949 - Fr. Charnock left Holy Spirit and the
church survived using lay readers when priests were not available.
• 1954 -1957 - Reverend Murray Voth was
ordained Christmas Eve 1954 and took charge of the mission. During his tenure the congregation grew to
about 200 congregants and in 1955 a new parish hall was built for $20,000.
• 1957 - The Reverend A.R. McKinley, a former
African Missionary, replaced Fr. Voth.
• 1958 -1962 - The Reverend Arthur E.
Tavener succeeded Fr. McKinley.
• 1962 - Fr. Taverner was replaced by Fr. Arnold
Charnock, who previously served at Holy Spirit in the 1940s. There was a dwindling congregation and the
treasury contained only $6.03.
• 1963-1973 - Under Fr. Charnock's tenure
Holy Spirit continued as a small spiritual family. In 1973 when Fr. Charnock retired, Reverend
Herbert Barsale, a former Connecticut theology professor, was appointed Vicar.
• 1977 - The Reverend Anthony W. Van Ham was
appointed Vicar and Safety Harbor starts to grow with new housing developments
and a fast growing population.
• 1978-79 - The existing Holy Spirit
building was moved to the back of the property and ground breaking for a new
church building on Philippe Parkway began in September 1978. In August 1979, the first mass was held in
the new sanctuary. The church consisted
of three buildings which surrounded a courtyard with a statue of St. Francis.
• 1980 - A Garden of Memories columbarium
was established as an extension of the church's existing historic cemetery.
Reverend Boyd Carson and Reverend Claude Guthrie joined Holy Spirit as
• 1984 -After seven years, Fr. Van Ham left
Holy Spirit and Reverend James Olmstead became the Priest in Charge, until
Reverend Arthur Lee III was appointed Vicar in 1985. Fr. Guthrie continued to assist and was
joined by Reverend Custis Fletcher who also assisted our church.
• 1985-2000 - During Fr. Lee's tenure, the
original historical church building was moved to DaySpring, the Diocese of
Southwest Florida Episcopal Conference Center in Ellenton, Florida in 1988. The historical Episcopal Church of the Holy
Spirit was renamed St. Thomas' Chapel, and is used as a chapel by the visitors
who travel to DaySpring for various events.
Also, during Fr. Lee's tenure, the little Safety Harbor mission gained
Parish status on October 12, 1990 at the annual Southwest Diocesan Convention
in Punta Gorda Florida. Our church also
moved a building from St Alfred's in 1995 currently being used as our thrift
• 2000 - Fr. Lee accepted the call as
rector of St. Davis's in Englewood, Florida; The Reverend Tanya Beck served as
the interim priest.
• 2001- The Rev. Raynald Bonoan, Canon
Missioner for Asian Ministries of the diocese, was called to become the rector
of the parish. He currently serves as the
chair and diocesan officer for the Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations of the
Diocese of Southwest Florida and the director of the Episcopal Church Against
Human Trafficking (ECAHT) of the diocese.
pastoral care, spiritual development and Christian formation of her faithful
members, the church in prayer for God's will, responds to the call of mission,
through: Peace and Justice Ministry (ECAHT) in partnership with the Florida
Coalition Against Human Trafficking (FCAHT).
Holy Spirit also supports many advocacy ministries including: Immokalee
Farm Workers' Ministry; Church Community Outreach of Safety Harbor; Asian
Ministry, Seafarer's Ministry; Jubilee Ministry; TEC-IFI Concordat Dialogue/Ecumenical
Relations and partnerships. Holy Spirit
supports our surrounding community by being a host to another congregation, an Alcoholic
Anonymous group and a Boy Scouts of America pack.
The church, with
much thanksgiving, celebrated its 90th year in 2004 and proudly
marks the 100th Anniversary Celebration of Christ's blessings to the
Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit, Safety Harbor, Florida in June 2014.
The Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit in Safety Harbor may
have changed in size and appearance over the years, but continues to be a warm
and friendly, family-oriented congregation just as it has been throughout the
last 100+ years. We welcome and invite
you, wherever you are in your faith journey, to any of our church activities,
and especially to our worship services, as follows:
• 8 a.m. - Low Mass, Holy Communion, Rite I
• 10 a.m. - Choral
Eucharist, Rite II, and Sunday School
• 4:30 p.m. - Adult Bible Study (seasonal)
• 6:00 p.m. - Healing Service and Evening