Faith Baptist Church celebrating 50 years of reaching out in Fort Wayne

Faith Baptist Church, 6600 Trier Road, will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a special worship service at 10 a.m. Sunday at the church. (By Kevin Kilbane of News-Sentinel.com)
Faith Baptist Church's many outreach activities include offering an Upward basketball program that is open to children in the community. (Courtesy photo)
Faith Baptist Church's 50th anniversary planning committee includes, clockwise from left, Pastor The Rev. Steven Roper, committee chair Tana Theard, Georgia Kuhns, Donette Marden, Karen Bulmahn, Nancy Shepler and Lew Allendorph. (By Kevin Kilbane of News-Sentinel.com)

Faith Baptist Church on Trier Road was founded 50 years ago after a pastor went out knocking on doors in neighborhoods near there to invite people to gather to pray.

The current congregation still believes in outreach in the community and sees it as a key component of their ministry in the future.

“Younger families want to be part of something that is making a difference,” said the Rev. Steven Roper, Faith Baptist’s current pastor.

Faith Baptist members will celebrate their congregation’s past and present during a 50th anniversary worship service at 10 a.m. Sunday at the church, 6600 Trier Road.

The inspiration for the founding of Faith Baptist came from a 1965 study by the Indiana Council of Churches, which showed a need for an American Baptist congregation to serve rapidly growing suburbs in northeast Fort Wayne, a Faith Baptist history said.

The Indiana Baptist Convention purchased the church’s current property in 1966 and created a steering committee of local Baptist pastors and lay people to plan for a new congregation there, the history said.

The Rev. Joseph L. Baker was selected as pastor for the new congregation. Baker went door-to-door in nearby neighborhoods to invite people to small inquiry groups and Sunday School classes, the history said.

People in the groups came together for the congregation’s first worship service on Jan. 7, 1968, in the adjacent Croninger Elementary School. Ironically, the congregation history said the weather that day was much like we’ve had this week – snow and bitter cold.

At the anniversary service Sunday, the congregation will sing the same hymns as founding members did at that first service in 1968. Roper also will interview the approximately one dozen charter members who still attend at Faith Baptist. A reception will follow the service.

The congregation also plans to hold other special events through the coming year:

• Charter members will be recognized May 20.

• The congregation will have a Picnic Homecoming on Sept. 9 at Shoaff Park. During that event, members will open a time capsule inserted in the cornerstone of the original portion of the church, which was built in 1970.

Later construction included an addition in 1976 and the Family Life Center in 1994, anniversary planning committee member Nancy Shepler said.

The congregation has seen attendance climb as high as 500 people for Sunday worship during the Baker years, but now averages about 200 people each Sunday, committee members said.

Roper, who became Faith’s pastor in August 2010, attributes the congregation’s longevity to Baker’s hard work as the founding pastor and to congregation members’ faith.

“The passion of people here to serve the Lord and to want to help others- to do what’s necessary to make sure Faith stays a vital presence of God in northeast Fort Wayne,” Roper said.

Faith Baptist’s outreach efforts also contribute to that mission, he and committee members said.

Along with offering a preschool ministry, the congregation also provides before- and after-school care for students at Croninger Elementary, Roper said.

In addition, Faith Baptist has adopted Brentwood Elementary, 3710 Stafford Drive off East State Boulevard, through the Rising Stars program sponsored by Associated Churches of Fort Wayne and Allen County. Congregation members provide school supplies for students, goodies for them before state assessment tests and meals for teachers on parent-teacher conference days, Roper said.

The church offers an Upward sports program for the community in its Family Life Center. Faith Baptist also provides food and shelter for 150 or more visiting youth and adult chaperones from the Mission Serve program, who come to Fort Wayne in the summer to do community-service projects.

It’s also a very caring congregation, said Donette Marden, an anniversary committee member who found that out first-hand when the church organized a pancake benefit to provide financial help to her family because of her late husband’s serious medical problems.

“It was heartfelt, that the church would do it,” Marden said. “I just know they are here for you.”

50TH ANNIVERSARY SERVICE

WHAT: Faith Baptist Church will celebrate its 50th anniversary during its worship service this Sunday. A reception will follow.

WHEN: 10 a.m. Sunday

WHERE: At the church, 6600 Trier Road, east of Maplecrest Road

INFORMATION: 485-1646 or www.faithbaptistchurchfw.com

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