Linda Demott receives 2023 Baptist Heritage Award

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MONTICELLO–Linda Gramling (Mrs. Herbert) Demott of the community of Elizabeth in Jefferson County, Florida, was presented the 2023 Baptist Heritage Award for “her visionary and yeoman efforts to preserve, record and publish the history of the Elizabeth Baptist Church, Monticello, Florida,” according to the Florida Baptist Historical Society.

The presentation of the award was made by Donald S. Hepburn, managing director of the Society, on Sunday, May 21, at Elizabeth Baptist Church, on the occasion of the congregation’s 192-year anniversary.

Demott, age 84, is a lifelong member of Elizabeth Baptist Church and has worked diligently since the early 1990s to collect, organize and develop material for a history book on the church that was established in 1831. She made it a goal to write and publish a church history book, the first narrative of its type for the congregation. Publication of the book is set to occur in June.

 In 2022 a special project Demott undertook was the creation of a bronze plaque containing a replica of the church’s original constitution handwritten in 19th-century English alongside a contemporary language translation. She single-handedly raised the necessary funds to have the bronze display produced by a third-party vendor. The plaque was dedicated by church members during the May 21 morning worship service.

As the Elizabeth Baptist Church-designated historian since the 1950s, Demott has prepared annual church anniversary observance materials, including the development of skits to “bring to life” the church’s historical leaders and events. Additionally, to promote the church’s history and to educate current members, she enlisted other volunteers to establish a designated history display of early information and memorabilia about Elizabeth Baptist Church.

Since 1955, Demott also has served as the church’s volunteer music leader and pianist. She also served for many years as associational music director for Middle Florida Baptist Association. Additionally, for many years she was enlisted by the then-Church Music Department of the Florida Baptist Convention to serve as a leader of specialty conferences for small church music leaders. For 25 years Demott, a wife and mother of four children, taught piano at Aucilla Christian Academy. She pursued formal academic training in music at North Florida Junior College and Florida State University’s School of Music.

According to Hepburn, the Baptist Heritage Award “seeks to recognize and honor those Florida Baptists who have exhibited rare and unusual dedication to the cause of Florida Southern Baptist history.”  This includes having made a significant impact through such tasks as researching and writing Baptist history, teaching Baptist history, preserving Baptist history, and/or promoting the importance of Florida Southern Baptist history.

Since 1997, 26 individuals have received the Baptist Heritage Award from the Florida Baptist Historical Society. These persons represent a broad range of Florida Baptists including pastors, denominational workers, college and seminary professors, and laypersons, who all share an interest and commitment to preserving, researching and publishing about Florida Baptist history.

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