A Note from Historian Lynne Murray
Those of you doing a computer search of our congregation may have also brought up the website of another Buckingham Presbyterian Church, this one located on Buckingham Road in Fort Myers, Florida. Their history is worth a look and I have copied it here. I'm in awe of these dedicated Presbyterians who met and conquered the obstacles of organizing and building a new church. It's particularly interesting to note they are exactly 300 years younger than our Buckingham. We were organized in 1683 and they in 1983.
The history of [Florida] Buckingham Presbyterian Church is one of faith, hope and love in action. In the late 1970's the New Church Development Committee of the Peace River Presbytery targeted East Fort Myers as the highest priority area to begin a new church. In 1981, Presbytery purchased a 10-acre tract of land on Buckingham Road, and in faith called Robert E. Veley to the challenge of serving as organizing pastor. In January 1981, Reverend Bob Veley accepted the call to become the organizing pastor for this new church that was envisioned. He immediately set to work inviting people to join the new Presbyterian fellowship. Faith and hope brought together a small but loving group. First, services were held in the offices of the Suburban Reporter, a local weekly newspaper. By April of 1981 growing attendance made it necessary to rent the Buckingham Community Center for services with 31 chartered members and lots of dreams. The church office was located in the pastor's home and Sunday School was held under the trees and later, in a motor home brought by a member each week. By November, 1981 we had moved ahead in faith and named ourselves Buckingham Presbyterian Church.
It took a great deal of faith in those early days to endure the hardships of new church development. There was so much work and so few to do it! The building had no heat or air-conditioning. We learned early that creature comforts did not make a church. A church is a fellowship of love, and we had become that.
In 1982 an architect was employed to draw the plans for the church buildings. A first phase consisted of a Fellowship Hall, offices and classrooms. Long-range projections call for a Sanctuary and additional classrooms. Our numbers were slowly growing, but our dreams of organization did not become realized until November, 1983 when we had our 100 chartered members. The organization celebration (held on Sunday, November 20, 1983 to celebrate the birth of the new church) was marred only slightly by rain, dripping through the roof. We had reached our first great hurdle: organization. A greater challenge, a home of our own, lay ahead. A building committee had begun in 1983 and a building drive was undertaken. Less than 60 families pledged to start giving regularly to the dream of building our own church building. After struggling with our governmental regulations and red tape, persistence paid off. On Mother's Day, 1985 we held our first service in our own building. The Fellowship Hall and classrooms were dedicated on November 17th of that year. We were a body of Christ held together by love and commitment to a dream. The future lay ahead.
The future is now. We are still seeking new members. With growth comes additional programs and services, new needs physically and financially. The faith, hope and love which is the cornerstone of our church family points us to new horizons and new challenges. We've known all along that with faith, hope, and love, miracles happen. Our church is proof. Our people are its testimony.
This story of the other Buckingham Presbyterian Church is truly inspiring. Although our handsome Gothic Revival building dates from 1905, we have issues in common with our southern colleague such as maintenance and fund-raising. Perhaps the most notable difference between our two congregations is the presence of palm trees in their front yard!
Happy Trails, Lynne
Buckingham Presbyterian Church, Fort Myers, FL