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The Sixties

A New Name

     
As the Washington Metropolitan Region experienced the transitions of change, there developed a “movement” among the churches — Baptists and others as well — to claim the title of "First Church." All across the region churches changed their names from the community name to "First Church.” Some of this change was motivated by a desire to attract the incoming "ready-made" Baptists. Another factor was the pervasive optimism that that dominated the leadership at that time. As the population grew, the need for new chinches was obvious. And "First" would be “First” among many.

The name First Baptist Church of Springfield became effective on July 1, 1960. The Minutes record that the occasion for formal action to change the name was the necessity of having a uniform name on the various church signs around the community.

The Fifth Pastor

    
With the departure of- Rev. Lee at the end of June 1961, the Church was again without a pastor. The people and leaders engaged in the inevitable issues of identity, emphasis and style of ministry as the church sought a new pastor to lead the church into the fulfillment of its divine call.

In the providence of God, the church called Rev. Paul M. Brunner who began his nearly nine-year pastorate in December 1961. Under his leadership, the Church began to mature. And the Church experienced several significant victories.

A New Mission Church Established

      
As the ministry of Rev. Brunner was beginning, the church began a comprehensive study of the possibility of another Southern Baptist church in the Springfield area. Mount Vernon Baptist Association had identified the need for another Baptist church in West Springfield. Other sections of the larger Springfield area were studied. On July 12, 1962, the Church adopted a Report of its Mission Committee in which the Committee announced that the Del Ray Baptist Church would begin a mission church in West Springfield in September. The Church committed itself "to participate in the new work to the degree our circumstances allow." Thus, the Westwood Baptist Chapel was launched.

A Parsonage

      
Despite an overwhelming urgency to erect additional program space for the church, the matter of a church-owned house (parsonage) for the minister arose in early 1962. How to achieve this desired ownership without a negative effect on the new building program consumed hours of discussion during most of 1962. Finally, several members proposed and the Church accepted an offer "to personally guarantee" the money to be withdrawn from the Church Savings as "earnest money" and down-payment, so that a dwelling at 6119 Dorchester Street could be purchased for use as a parsonage. This matter was approved on December 12, 1962, and the purchase was consummated shortly thereafter.

An Expanded Building

       
Almost from the time the first unit building was occupied, it was overcrowded. Adjustments and temporary arrangements were made and there was steady growth as more and more people found their way to the church.

The struggle for space permeated the whole life of the church during the early 1960s. Committees were appointed regularly and assigned the task of studying the problem and proposing solutions. Each committee was hampered by the inescapable realities of a rapidly growing community, populated in large part by young families with many children and no capital wealth to invest in buildings. It was a time of testing, but the church kept the vision of an enlarged facility "on the front burner."

After a long and arduous process, the church on February 13, 1963 approved a recommendation to build a $154,000 addition to its physical plant. The addition provided desperately needed educational space as well as space for a day school and a gymnasium. That building was occupied in December 1963.

The Story Continues...
     
The history of the First Baptist continues past these pages. The rest of the story will be told in later editions. The future is ahead tor the First Baptist Church of Springfield as it seeks to live out its mission in Springfield and beyond.

Our Mission Statement
     
We exist to lead people into a relationship with Jesus Christ and to grow to
become like Him.”     top

"To God Be the Glory”

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