We're very thankful to have a wonderful history as First Baptist Church Naples. We have seen God do incredible things over the years, and through the ministries of FBCNaples.
In the spring of 1945, Reverend Joseph Engel, his wife and young son were sent by the Brookdale Baptist Church of Bloomfield, New Jersey to plant new churches in South Florida. They arrived in Naples and gathered other Baptist families to meet with them in a small outbuilding behind the local grocery store, meeting for their first worship service on November 6, 1945. Soon they began to worship in a small house which was the Naples Women’s Club on 11th Ave. South in old downtown Naples. Just one year later, on April 7, 1946, twenty-four charter members held their first worship service at the newly built 8th Street South chapel, overlooking what is now Cambier Park in downtown Naples. Through these humble beginnings, the foundation for a dynamic, Christ-honoring church was set.
In 1946, The First Baptist Church in Naples called their first full time pastor, Reverend U. Curry Walton. In October of 1956, the first mission church of this congregation, the East Naples Baptist Church, was formed out of First Baptist Church Naples.
Over its 75 year history, this congregation has been shepherded and led by men of God who had a vision to reach people for Jesus Christ. In 1959 Reverend Robert F. Martin became pastor and served throughout the 1960s until 1969. In 1970, Reverend Freddie Smith began to pastor, and under his leadership in 1976, the church had grown to the point that it needed to move from its downtown location. It did so in 1977 to what was then the outskirts of town, to a 12-acre campus on Pine Ridge Road. Soon after this new move across town, the church called Reverend Irvin Northcutt from 1978-1980. During this time the missional heart of this congregation continued to grow, establishing a Spanish Mission in 1978 and launching the first services of the Golden Gate mission in 1979.
The early 1980s brought transition to FBCNaples, and in 1982 Reverend Max Cadenhead was called to lead this congregation after serving from 1970-1975 at the First Baptist Church of Dover, FL and with the Florida Baptist State Convention from 1975-1982 in the evangelism department. During this time, in the spring of 1990, the completion of a building in Bonita Springs for a Spanish Mission was realized. In all, Revered Cadenhead served as the pastor of FBCNaples nearly a decade, until the time of his death in 1991.
Then in 1992, Dr. Hayes Wicker came to Naples after hearing the call of God through the people of God. Soon after Dr. Wicker’s arrival, in October of 1993, the Pine Ridge location was completely renovated.
Again, the LORD was at work as the church family outgrew the Pine Ridge campus and in April 1995, God provided the means to purchase 100 acres of orange groves for relocation to the church’s present home on the corner of Orange Blossom Drive and Livingston Road. The ground was broken in April of 2000 and in January 2002, the doors opened to this new campus. In all, Dr. Wicker served FBCNaples from 1992-2019, the longest tenured pastor in the history of our church.
In all that God has done over 75 years, we know that the church should not be primarily marked by its leaders or its buildings. The church of First Baptist Naples is comprised of its people committed to living out the gospel, living in community, and living on mission. We’re a fellowship of believers who have joined together to give glory to God alone as we together proclaim the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our solid foundation is built on Him and on His trustworthy Word. We give all glory to God for all He has done and look with anticipation toward all that He will do in the future, until he comes again.