Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit

Church History

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History of the Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit, Safety Harbor, Florida

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.  The 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, Florida.  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.


Centennial Timeline

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. Briscoe.

  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 assistant priests.

  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 shop.   

  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.

     Coupled with 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 for Children



  4:30 p.m. - Adult Bible Study (seasonal)

  6:00 p.m. - Healing Service and Evening Prayer