On this day (March 3) in 1876, Florida became the 27th State in the Union. Three months prior to that date, H.Z. Ardis became one of the first Baptist pastors in the state, taking the reigns of God’s assembly in Madison, a community in the Panhandle.
Ardis was born on August 8, 1811 into a South Carolinian Presbyterian home. As a teenager, he made a profession of faith and united with others in constituting a Presbyterian church at Beach Island, S.C., between Aiken and Augusta, GA. There in 1832 he joyfully married the love of his life, but when a baby girl came along the family was nearly destroyed. Upon coming to understand the Bible, H.Z. refused to permit his daughter to be christened, furthermore he felt led of the Lord to be immersed in water. On September 26, 1834 he joined a local Baptist church. Thus he found himself at odds with his mother, all his in-laws and even his wife, but he refused to give up what he knew to be the truth.
Rather than despairing, H.Z. began to conduct prayer meetings, and soon after that he was urging sinners to come to Christ. The following January the Union Baptist Church called for his ordination. Even though his wife refused immersion, Bro. Ardis served that congregation for nine years, while at the same time assisting other churches throughout South Carolina.
In 1845 Ardis was overcome with poor health. He was urged to move to an even warmer climate, which led him to Madison, Florida. By the grace of God his health improved and he pastored that assembly for the next twenty-one years. It was into his fifth year at Madison that he had the joy of immersing his wife in the waters of baptism.
In 1871 H.Z., joined his brother in the work of God in Louisiana. He was faithful to the Lord there until the time of his death in 1881