Rebuilding – 1949 to 1973

Rebuilding

Arthur Bracken
Arthur Bracken

During the 1940’s, the condition of the church building on Stanley Street had deteriorated to the point that extensive and costly repairs were needed. In addition, the church was having problems attracting and holding a pastor. Between 1948 and 1950, there were several short interim pastoral terms of Rev. Hugh Campbell, John Daykin, R. McPhedran, Arthur Bracken and Miss E. Spain. Finally, in February, 1950, at a church meeting, it was decided to close the church if no minister could be found in three months. However, Dr. Orville. E. Daniel who was working hard to secure a pastor for Nelson, finally succeeded, when in 1950 Rev. Theo T. Gibson was called to lead the congregation into a building program and relocation.

Rev. Theo Gibson
Rev. Theo Gibson

After much prayer and consideration the congregation decided to relocate to the Fairview area and build a new church building. Fairview was a growing area with only one church, the Anglican “Church of the Redeemer”. In August of 1950, a lot was purchased on the corner of Cottonwood and Fourth Streets. Construction began in October. The old building on Stanley Street was sold but before the building was demolished, the stained glass windows were moved to the new building. The last service in the Stanley Street. building was held on January 13, 1951.

The opening of the first part of the new building was celebrated on January 21, 1951, with a near capacity crowd, despite the season’s heaviest snowfall.  The service was held in the rear portion of the basement (which later became the nursery and furnace room). Rev. Frank S. Humphries of Alta Vista Baptist, Burnaby was the guest speaker at both the morning and evening services, when J. A. Bracken received the keys to the new building.

Fourth Street Building
Fourth Street Building

The Sanctuary was opened and dedicated on June 10, 1951. Rev. Frank Haskins (General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Western Canada) preached at the morning service on “Why the Church Stands”. In the evening, Dr. Orville E. Daniels of Vancouver, spoke at the official dedication delivering a sermon entitled “Bethel”. During the 1950’s First Baptist Church expanded its ministries. The Sunday School grew as did the children’s mid-week programs. In 1953 Rev. Gibson resigned and Rev. Bowbrick took on a short time of pastoral leadership.

Rev. Kutch Imayoshi
Rev. Kutch Imayoshi

From 1953 to 1958, Rev. Kutch Imayoshi led the congregation. Six new members were added in 1955 and Sunday attendance was about 66. On the “fifth” Sundays, the congregation led services of worship in Robson. The congregation prepared to host the Baptist Convention of Baptist Churches’ Annual Assembly in 1957. These preparations included adding a second wash room and new lights. Membership was up to 62 with an increase of 9 new members. There were 69 children registered in the Sunday School.

Celebration

Rev. Robert Vaughn
Rev. Robert Vaughn

On June 23, 1957, The church celebrated its 60th Anniversary. Rev. Theo Gibson returned and spoke at the Anniversary service. Then in1958, Rev. Imayoshi resigned and Rev. A.L. Foster took the interim pastoral leadership until the end of 1958. Rev. Foster was replaced by Rev. R. Cross in 1959. In the same year, the congregation purchased 715 Fifth Street for a manse for $9,800. It was subsequently sold 19 years later for $42,000, when it was no-longer needed.

On August 7, 1960, Rev. R. Vaughn began a leadership until part way through 1962. He was followed by Ken Mudge who served as Interim until Rev. Lyle Kennedy took full pastoral responsibilities in 1962.

The congregation burned the mortgage onJanuary 20, 1961. There were 6 baptisms.

Rev. Lyle Kennedy
Rev. Lyle Kennedy

Rev. Lyle Kennedy began a time of ministry at First Baptist Church in 1962. He was followed by Rev. Daniel D. Wiebe, who began an unprecedented 10 years of pastoral leadership. He was inducted on October 6, 1966 by Rev. S. H. Cassells from Emmanuel Baptist Church in Trail. Rev. J. W. Duncan (Executive-Secretary of the B.C. Baptist Convention) delivered the sermon on Revelation 1: 5-6. Rev. Wiebe retired after a musical evening onJune 13, 1976.

The church celebrated its 70th Anniversary onApril 26, 1967. with a supper and program including a team from the Baptist Leadership Training School (BLTS). The Anniversary celebrations – with guest speakers and special events – lasted a month concluding with an Anniversary service on the theme: “Great is Thy Faithfulness”.

Rev. Daniel Wiebe
Rev. Daniel Wiebe

Fire of unknown origin broke out in the building on September 1, 1970. The fire alarm sounded at 2:55 am. when Mr. Ross McKay spotted the fire from Gordon Road. Alertness of a neighbour resulted in the prompt arrival of the fire department. There was extensive fire damage to the basement, but the upstairs received mostly smoke damage. During the repairs and renovations, the congregation met in the now disused “Church of the Redeemer” on Second Street. The repairs cost $11,500. The church re-opened on December 6, 1970, with Rev. Lloyd Pierce (B.C. Area Minister) as guest speaker.

The 75th Anniversary and Thanksgiving service was on October 8, 1972. Rev. Kutch Imayoshi (pastor from 1953 to 1958) was the guest speaker on the topic “Bless this House”. Long-time members, Mrs. Julia Blackwell (65 years) and Mrs T. H. Waters (68 years) were acknowledged.

In the following years, a number of improvements were done to the church. In1973 and 1974, carpeting was laid in several rooms, and the church was re-roofed.