From the Heritage Room
A few more notes before leaving our celebration of the 1950’s at St. John’s—
— In 1954, when the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Brown vs. Education” in which the court ruled that state laws establishing racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional, Dr. Broach preached a sermon entitled “The Christian Conscience and Segregation” in support of the ruling. The sermon was endorsed and appreciated by most; however, to those who opposed his support for the Court’s ruling, Dr. Broach said, “For their right to differ, I will contend heartily, and cordially. The freedom of dissent is vital in our Baptist heritage. It is a sign of life. If we maintain the spirit of love, our differences are stimulating but no divisive”.
–In August of 1956, the church celebrated “Ann Snelling Day”. Ann Snelling was a member of St. John’s who answered the call to serve as a Medical Missionary in Paraguay. The church was very proud of this appointment since she was the first member of the church to serve as a missionary. She was appointed in June 1955 but did not actually go to Paraguay until September 1956. During that period, she attended various training classes. She regularly sent reports to the church during her training period and after she went to Paraguay.
— During the decade of the 1950’s, the Youth was active in theater and musical productions—Pride and Prejudice, HMS Pinafore, and The Mikado—are examples.
–In March,1957, the church celebrated its 35th Anniversary with a month of special activities, including an anniversary pageant and a message by a missionary to Israel.
— In November 1957, a denominationally sponsored “Forward Program of Finance”, was adopted with a great deal of promotion and an overly ambitious goal of a budget of $201,000, an increase of almost $50.000 over the prior year. However, only $186,000 was pledged. This disappointing development led to a significant decision two year later when the church decided to ask its people to make pledges as an act of worship before a budget was prepared. This “bold new plan” was tried as a venture of faith and was remarkably successful.
— In 1958, the Children’s Division began the “extended sessions” for young children during the worship hour in the sanctuary.
By the end of the decade, Dr. Broach noted two key issues in the life of the church—changing residential patterns of the community and the need for a more adequate pastoral ministry. The 1960’s were to bring some significant changes to the congregation at the corner of Fifth and Hawthorne.