In 1882, free slaves of the Baptist denomination needed a place to worship and fellowship. As a result, members of the community met and organized Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, the second oldest church in the quaint community of Eatonville, Florida.
Services were held on the second and fourth Sundays because we shared the building with St. Lawrence African Methodist Episcopal Church, who worshiped first and third Sundays.
In 1886, Macedonia acquired a separate dwelling on the corner of what is presently known as Eaton and West streets. That old wooden frame building had two kerosene lamps for light, a wood burning heater in the center of the room for heat, and a high steeple which held the church bell. The church’s graveyard was next to the building. The earliest recorded pastor was Rev. Joe Richards, who served from 1895 until 1902, when Rev. A. J. Johnson became pastor. Between 1902 and 1947 the following ministers served as pastor, brothers Rev. John Hurston and Rev. Isaac Hurston (Rev. John Hurston was the father of author Zora Neale Hurston) Rev. J. H. Murphy, Rev. Mansfield F. Thompson, M. F. Mitchell, Roger Moore, L. A. Brayboy and J. B. Burgess. Due to differences Rev. Murphy split with the church and formed the church known today as Open Door Baptist Church; others eventually followed including Rev. Thompson, who later joined New Salem Baptist Church in Woodbridge. Sister Annie Smith Peters, who currently serves on the Repast Committee, was Sunday school superintendent during 1938 and 1939. As the town of Eatonville grew, so did the Macedonia congregation. In 1948, the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church moved to Calhoun Street and Eatonville Road (Kennedy Blvd.). This modern day structure featured steep stairs on the front that stretched from one side of the church to the other. The basement housed the kitchen and dining room. The bathrooms were on the outside rear of the building. The steeple housed the large bell, with its every distinct sound, which rang 15 minutes prior to Sunday school and church services. It was also used to notify the community of deaths, fires and other emergencies. Rev. J. W. Mitchell was the pastor. Rev. J. E. McCrary later pastored the church for two months. Rev. Lester Smith became the next pastor until 1956.
In 1957, with a membership of 66, Macedonia called Rev. Peter L. Lias, who developed ministries that addressed the needs of both the congregation and local community. Rev. Lias preached the Word of God and under his leadership and administration the church increased. In 1974, because the church had outgrown the “more modern” facility, a new edifice (currently known as Peter L. Lias Fellowship Hall) was constructed. Concerned about the educational needs of the church and community, Pastor Lias continued his visionary quest when the construction of a three classroom educational building (now called Heritage Lamb) was completed later that same year. Rev. Lias’ mission thereafter was to empower his congregation to serve God through the teachings of the Bible until the Lord called him home on February 7, 1987.
In October 1987, Macedonia called the young minister, Rev. Willie C Barnes to pastor its flock. Who would have guessed that the speaker for the Young Adult Choir’s (now known as the Voices of Praise) first anniversary would later become pastor. Even as a youth, where he worked diligently in his church Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church, and in Congress No. 2, it was evident that God had a special calling on young Willie C. Barnes.
February of 1987, Rev. Barnes was ordained by Rev. L. W. Wilson, his pastor and advisor. Prior to coming to Macedonia, he served as Associate Pastor at Bethlehem and Spark Level Missionary Baptist Church in Cherry Lake, Florida.
In May 1994, Pastor Barnes led his congregation into a new sanctuary and later in 1999 due the burgeoning congregation, a balcony was added. Pastor Barnes embarked on a mission to eliminate the mortgage and in April of 2002, the church became debt free when the mortgage was paid off.
In 2001, Nehemiah Educational and Economic Development (N.E.E.D.), a non-profit organization was initiated to coordinate outreach programs for education, economic development and programs for high risk individuals such as children, seniors and challenged adults. The latest endeavor, titled Operation S.O.S. is a mentoring program for at risk boys and girls. In 2005, renovation of the Peter L. Lias Fellowship Hall was completed, providing a multi-purpose facility that accommodates several meetings at one time. It can also be used for banquet purposes, plays and special programs. In 2014, our state of the art commercial kitchen was completed to further assist in being able to host various events. Plans are underway to accommodate the ever growing ministries and community. A 16 class-room educational facility, a life center that will house a gym, and retail suites will help to expand the economic base of the community. Under the leadership of Pastor Barnes, Macedonia moves forward with resolution, imagination and trust in the unchanging God.