Having been led by the Spirit of God, the Rev. R. D. Hodges sought permission of the Polk County School Board of Education to begin services in the Lake Elbert Elementary school. Permission was granted and the newly formed group held their first service in the school auditorium on April 18, 1965.
On June 6 of that same year the church was organized. The name "Winter Haven Baptist Temple" was the name chosen unanimously for and by the newly organized church. Also on this same date, the congregation elected the Rev. R. D. Hodges as pastor.
The first service in the first small building was on Wednesday night April 6, 1966. The building was not completed and it was very hard to find parking because of the sandy condition of this beautiful tangerine grove that the church was built on. We had been using the Haven Hotel on Wednesday evenings for our services and were anxious to meet in our own facilities.
One year after our first service in the school, to the Sunday, we moved into our new first building. That was on April 10, 1966. It was a most joyous Easter for everyone. In February 1968 we began to feel the need for expansion of our property holding with a view of future expansion in mind. So the church voted to double our church property to include more highway frontage to eliminate any future parking problems. It was that year also that we built the small Sunday School annex.
Because of the steady growth and God's blessings upon us, we soon saw the need for a bigger church building. The second church building was built in 1970. Pastor Mark Hodges began working on staff with his father in 1976. The Lord, unbeknown to us at that time, was preparing him to be the next pastor of our great church. The Lord called his Dad home to be with Him on October 25, 1981. It was a great loss, but heaven's gain. The awesome responsibility left for our new pastor was met with God's help and the rallying of God's people to help see the church to move forward.
A new gym was built soon after he became pastor. Happy times were enjoyed in it as it was a multi-purpose building. The church later decided to remodel the gym and make it into our new church facility. It was renovated, and was made beautiful by the workmanship of the men of our church. We have been in this beautiful building since 1991. The church voted to change the name of our church to the "Winter Haven Baptist Church."
The church is a mission minded church, supporting over 50 foreign missionaries. Each year, Pastor Hodges is asked to speak in many foreign countries and continues to lead the church (for 30+ years) to reach out to the world with the wonderful message that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world.
In 2010, the church built a 21,000 square foot Activity Center and is experiencing great growth. The church is involved in multiple ministries that are meant to reach out to those who are in need of Christ and also for the spiritual enrichment and enjoyment of its members and their families.