Florida Work

History Book
History Book
History Book

Cato Bush had begun preaching in 1924, going from house to house telling the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ. After living for a time in Mobile, Alabama, he began extensive travels in Alabama and Florida. By 1930, he had received an Apostolic Faith paper, and had met with others who had received the papers as well. Among these was Richard Barney.

Reverend Bush moved to Century, Florida, in January of 1940, to join with a group who had also sprung from the Azusa revival, and had called themselves “Apostolic.” When his co-workers turned away from the leadership in Portland, it was a matter of great concern to Reverend Bush. After much prayer and fasting, it was decided by the majority of the ministers and membership that they wanted to keep the connection with the Apostolic Faith work in Portland, so they separated themselves from the remainder of the group.

Richard Barney and Walter Moore in front of the old wooden cafeteria on the Century campground.

Reverend Bush made a trip to Portland in 1944, and was encouraged by the ministry there to work closely with Reverend Barney and to stay in fellowship with Portland. It was his desire to do this, so he and the other individuals with the same purpose of heart began to hold meetings in various homes. Finally, one home—an old unpainted house that was leaning to one side—was given over as a meeting place.

Then the Lord opened up the way for the group to acquire an acre of land directly across the highway from one of the early members. This was a big step of faith because there was little money in the church treasury, but the Lord provided the finances. The plot was filled with trees and bushes and the people could not afford to hire someone to clear the land, so they did it themselves. Plans were drawn for a new church building that would be constructed of concrete blocks. They purchased two machines to make the blocks, and learned how to produce them. Dedicated workers labored all day at the sawmill, then came to make blocks at the church ground in the evenings and on Saturdays.

The first Apostolic Faith Church in Century, Florida.

An account written by the son of one of those early pioneers contained this report of the building project: “1945 was a year of great excitement. World War II was coming to a slow close, we were enjoying our ‘sawdust trail’ church, and we were very excited about the work on our first church building. It was hard, but we did not seem to mind it. Everyone was happy as we eagerly anticipated having our own church. As the concrete blocks were made, the saints would pray over them. As I recall, all services, activities, or work was preceded by prayer. Our small ‘tent top church’ [a temporary church consisting of a used army tent that fit over a wooden frame] was filled to capacity. However, it was a place where souls were saved, and many lives were dedicated to the service of the Lord.” The new place of worship was dedicated in 1946.

From 1946 through 1950, there was tremendous growth in the Century church. News about the Apostolic Faith Mission in Century began to spread near and far. Outreach efforts by the members of the congregation had extended into hospitals and prisons in the region, as well as in many outlying areas. They held cottage meetings wherever there was an open door, and handed out many Gospel papers and tracts to people who gladly received them. Many souls were added to the church.

A group of ministers from some of the southern churches gather in front of the tabernacle on the Portland campground.

Other pastors and their members found their way to the Century, Florida, Apostolic Faith Mission. They began having annual revival services, and this brought numbers of those who had gone a different direction back together again. Eventually, Century was established as the headquarters church for the southern branches of the Apostolic Faith work.

Another branch of the Apostolic Faith work in Florida was established in the year 1959, when a group in Pensacola that had been worshiping together since 1955 expressed their desire to affiliate with the organization. One of the members from the Century church had relocated to Pensacola and visited the small church. Through her, the pastor learned about the Apostolic Faith organization and began corresponding with the headquarters church in Portland. He was advised to contact the church in Century. He went, and soon made known his desire to become part of the work. In October of 1959, Reverend Bush officially established the Pensacola church as a branch of the Apostolic Faith organization.

W. T. Thomas and the Pensacola group who affiliated with the Apostolic Faith work in 1959.