MOORE HAVEN – Located on the southwest banks of Lake Okeechobee and the Caloosahatchee River, the small town of Moore Haven was often called “Little Chicago,” in the days when riverboat traffic came down the Caloosahatchee Canal hauling cattle, fruits and vegetables from Central Florida.
But those boom days ended when back-to-back hurricanes in the 1920’s wreaked havoc in the Glades County seat town, now known for its freshwater fishing, camping and hiking trails.
As the new pastor of Moore Haven’s First Baptist Church, Scott Whetstone is hoping to bring a new ‘boom’ to the area as he creates a new evangelistic fervor among the congregation and community.
“We want to be intentional about sharing our faith,” he said. “We are going to be a people that is concerned about the salvation of others.”
Whetstone arrived in Moore Haven June 6, transitioning from a church in Anniston, Ala. Though an Alabama native, Whetstone is familiar with the Sunshine State, having graduated from the Baptist College of Florida in Graceville in 1996.
After being without a pastor for two years, the Moore Haven congregation has fully embraced Whetstone and his wife, Kim, making it an easy move for the couple.
“Both the people in the church and community are genuine and kind,” he said.
Having walked through the pastoral search process with the church and attending the new pastor’s inaugural service, Wayne Briant, southwest regional catalyst for the Florida Baptist Convention, is enthusiastic about the days ahead.
“After a two-year search, pastor Scott seems well able to lead the church’s ministry into a bright future,” said Briant.
Whetstone hopes to honor the past while simultaneously embracing the future of First Moore Haven. He shared his plans to reestablish the church’s Sunday evening prayer and praise service, rebuild their small group classes, and create a training program to help equip members in sharing the gospel.
“We desire to live with an awe of God and obedience to Him, we will cultivate that in everything we do as a church,” he said. “We want to help people grow in their faith and holiness through small groups and training.”
In his opening sermon, Whetstone asked church members to begin inviting those they encounter to come to church with them and encouraged them to share the gospel wherever they go.
Whetstone knows that sharing the gospel is an overflow of their love and desire to follow God’s Word.
“Everything we do is geared towards loving God and loving people,” said Whetstone. “We want to be known in the community for how we love.”
Having served in ministry for a quarter of a century, Whetstone wants to encourage others in ministry to keep pressing towards the prize.
“Patience is important,” he said. “Hang on and hang in there, it will all be worth it in the end. Jesus is worth anything we can ever offer him.”
Historical information gathered from Florida Back Roads Travel.