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First Baptist Church - June 1, 1929 Directory. First Baptist Church was located at Wilson and Louise Street, Glendale, California


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Historical Highlights

Almost a quarter of a century ago, in the home of Mr. And Mrs. S. C. Marchant, a brief prayer meeting was conducted by the Rev. S. C. Ohrum and Alonzo M. Petty. None there even so much as dreamed of the great organization and far reaching work they were starting when some one present proposed that a Baptist Church be organized in Glendale. After some discussion of details, ways and means, an affirmative vote brought into existence this first nucleus of the Baptist Church. This was on July 5, 1904, and to show the zeal and vision with which this faithful group of pioneers worked, it was less than three weeks from that date when the twenty-two charger members listed below had completed the preliminary organization of the Calvary Baptist Church of Glendale, a name that was used for about five years. The following names comprised the roster of that first membership:

Mr. J. M. Banker Onia Rawlins
Mr. and Mrs. C. E. Damerell Mr. and Mrs. G. W. Wallace
Lois Dodsworth Mr. and Mrs. D. B. Beers
Mr. and Mrs. Howard H. Martin Mr. and Mrs. S. C. Marchant
M. W. Martin Mr. and Mrs. J. L. Overton
Homer Martin H. M. Overton
Mr. and Mrs. J. T. Rawlins Mr. and Mrs. A. A. Miller

As a tribute to their untiring work in the Master's service, it is a pleasure to record that of this number Mr. J. M. Banker, Mr. and Mrs. Howard H. Martin, H. M. Overton and his wife, Mrs. Onia Rawlins Overton, are still actively engaged in the work of the Glendale Baptist Church.

After the first two months, during which time Brother Ohrum was acting Pastor, Rev. C. W. Iler, preaching at the Baptist Church of South Pasadena on Sunday mornings, was called to lead the Glendale Church, and held services in the Odd Fellows Hall each Sunday afternoon at three o'clock, the building being used during the morning hour by the Methodists. The need of a Sunday School was soon felt, and Brother Iler, alive to the needs of a new church and a growing community, began this vital part of religious education with three units: a Primary Department with two pupils, an Intermediate and an Adult Bible Class. Feeling the necessity for a building site and permanent church home, the purchase of two lots at the corner of Louise and Wilson streets was consummated at this time at a cost of $450.00 and the first church building was begun. The cost of this structure B $3,000.00 B was kept at this very low figure because of the work during their spare time of a group of the faithful members, among whom were Brothers Banker, Beers, Damerell, Marchant, Miller, Overton, Rawlins and Wallace.

Rev. Alonzo M. Petty, known to many as the AFather of the Glendale Baptist Church, @ and Mr. Banker, were instrumental in influencing a participation in the financing of this movement by such good Southern California Baptists as Deacon Richard Green of Los Angeles, Alfred P. Griffith of Azusa, D. K. Edwards, and Hanna Atherton Baldwin, also of Los Angeles, as well as the late L. C. Brand and various others in and out of the denomination. The convention of the Los Angeles City Mission Board also rendered an aid without which the work could not be progressed as it did.

During the next four years a healthy growth in strength of membership and spiritual activity was realized under the leadership of Rev. E. K. Fischer, who was Pastor from July 1905 to April 1906 and th Rev. W. F. Stone from March 31, 1906 to June 1908. It was in the last named Pastorate that the Church was cleared from the building debt previously incurred, and its members now numbering about one hundred, began to see the need, in the near future, for still better quarters to care for the ever growing work.

On July 1, 1908, began a period of church history that for two years contributed greatly to the power that was then being felt in the community as a result of the devoted and uncompromising Christian spirit among the church members. A unanimous vote of this body had called to its Pastorate Rev. A. F. Moody, and with the aid of Mrs. Moody and their two daughters, such necessary parts of the Church life as the Women's Missionary Society was formed, and the Sunday School, the Choir and other musical activities took on a healthy growth because of their active personal participation. It is still a privilege to have Mrs. Moody and her daughter, Maude, as active workers in the Church today, and their fine Christian character and spirit is a testimony of a rich experience during the years passed. It was also during Brother Moody's pastorate that the Church was incorporated, on April 1, 1909, under the name it now has, The First Baptist Church of Glendale, California. J. M. Banker, H. F. Fryer, and James Hoffman acted as incorporators, representing the membership in this legal transactions.

Rev. Eugene Haines, of Vermont, became Pastor on September 1, 1910, and continued until April 16, 1913, and the big monument to his leadership was the erection of the new $11,000.00 Church and Sunday School quarters. Added to the group of members who had borne the load in previous years now appears some new names, some of whom are still active in the Church. That main building committee consisted of Charles C. Arrowsmith, Chairman; then Superintendent of the Sunday School, J. M. Banker, W. F. Wood, H. M. Overton, H. L. Sagar, Mrs. W. W. McElroy and Mrs. Dr. Clarence Pierce, and they, in turn, appointed a small Executive Building Committee of three, namely, J. M. Banker, Chairman; W. F. Wood and H. M. Overton, and, of course, Pastor Haines took an active part in the planning and building of that new Church home. It is interesting here to note that at that time there was considerable and constant complaint that the Church site was too far from the business center of Glendale, but time has proven the wisdom of that choice of location.

During this busy time the spiritual care of the Church was never for a moment lost sight of, as was evidenced by the forming of two active young people's groups under the supervision of Mrs. Haines.

A very steady and healthy growth was experienced during the stay of the next two pastors, namely, Rev. John H. Troy, from October 1913 to March 1916 and Rev. Vernon Cowsart, from July 1916 to August 1918.

Following a period of a few months without a regular Pastor, a call was issued in July 1919 to Rev. Ernest E. Ford, and here started a Pastorate of eight years duration in which the Church may be said to have successfully passed through that difficult transition from a village sized Church to a down-town metropolitan organization. In 1922 the ever increasing demand on the Pastor's time brought to his aid Mrs. Wayland Wood as Pastor's Assistant, who through the years has and is still rendering most valued service to the Church. Her genial personality and ability to remember names and faces has made her very active in calling on and greeting new members. Later, the position of Director of Christian Education was created, the first incumbent being Rev. Harry Kern, who served in that capacity from January 1927 to February 1928, and who, during that time, greatly strengthened the work of the young people of the Church, he being very ably assisted in this by Mrs. Kern, whom everyone learned to love so much.

Long before it seemed physically possible that the membership could finance a building program to fit the needs, Pastor Ford was dreaming, talking and planning a structure that would measure up to the program of service that the community in its rapid growth now required. After months of tireless work with architects, with financial experts and with building material companies, the Executive Building Committee, consisting of Geo. Bentley, Chairman; H. Park Arnold, J. L. Gray, J. M. Banker and P. L. Hatch, and the Finance Committee consisting of Roy L. Kent, Chairman; Harry W. Chase, J. Ray Bentley, W. W. McElroy, J. R. Detweiler and the Pastor, assisted by Charles Cressey, Architect, and the entire membership, participated in the ground breaking ceremony on April 20, 1925, and the cornerstone laying in June of the same year. From then on until the great dedication week early in May 1926, the city watched a most beautiful church edifice grow to completion, and the auditorium of this great plant is one of the most beautiful and worshipful in all of Southern California. Pastor Ford can ever look with pride of accomplishment on this wonderful building, and the entire denomination as well as his own community will always recognize in this house of God a monument to his tireless devotion and constructive imagination, and an answer to the prayer of one of the Master's true servants. Adding immeasurably to the charm and worshipful atmosphere which is so evident in every Church service held, is the great Estry organ, a memorial provided by Mrs. W. F. Wood in loving memory of her husband and son. What more beautiful monument could be left than this?

Another change in leadership, and the last to be recorded in this history, occurred in the late summer of 1927, when Rev. J. Whitcomb Brougher, Jr., the present Pastor, was unanimously called, and began a most remarkable work on October 12 th. A very rapid, though healthy growth, both in numerical and financial strength, occurred the first year. A building debt of $85,000.00 had been incurred in the financing of the $175,000.00 program of recent construction, and this was attacked with vigor by the Finance Committee under the Pastor's supervision with the result that $17,000 .00 was paid on the principal, and the interest and all current operating and missionary obligations were met promptly and placed in a healthy condition at the cost of the first year's work. Many men, strong in the Baptist denomination, had been attracted to membership in the Glendale Church because of the vision and activities, and while space will not permit the publishing of the names of all those who have so materially aided in the work of the last few years, it can be said that none more than Brother A. M. Petty have been so ready in the present, as in the years past, to respond to any need.

About this time the need of a Director of Young People's activities and an educational expert to supervise that phase of the Church program was keenly felt, and at the annual meeting in the Fall of 1928, a call was sent to Rev. J. Roy Harris, who has proven to be a real team mate for Pastor Brougher, and who is supervising in a highly productive way the programs of the Bible School, Young People's unions and other organizations, particularly the children and young people in our Church community.

In September, 1928, through the friendly co-operation of Earl L. White, owner of Radio Station KELW, broadcasting direct from the church was made available and this activity has grown until at present about five hours of broadcast is released every Sunday, consisting of high class musical and studio programs, as well as both morning and evening services. This means has provided an opportunity for expression among the artists of the church and community that has been very beneficial both to themselves and to the large radio audience. Pastor Brougher, by taking his place among other business men in civic and community affairs has not only become a truly representative citizen, but has made a more useful place in the city for his Church. His insistence on orthodox Christian ideals and forceful presentations to crowded houses of the claims of Christ upon the individual has given his church the largest list of conversions and baptisms not only in the convention, but for the whole Pacific Coast with but one exception.

This history must necessarily close at a point that brings it to the present, for history is a record of the deeds of the past. One needs no recital of the daily happenings upon which they themselves are looking to remind them that the First Baptist Church of Glendale is standing high in the community and denomination, that its programs and music are second to none, and that but one ideal dominates every thought and plan of its leaders, namely, the working out of God's plan in this world, and an ever increasing loyalty to the church motto, "Let Brotherly Love Continue."