From the Heritage Room—
In addition to ministerial staff changes during the 1990’s, there were changes with the administrative and support staffs. Peggy Harrison assumed the job of Church Administrator in September 1990, joining Carolyn Richards, Ace Millsaps, and Judy Abernathy in the church office. Wanda Grantt, previously employed with ACS, became the business manager and financial secretary in 1991. Ace retired in 1992 and Wanda Gouge joined the staff. Steve Taylor became the Maintenance Supervisor in 1997, replacing Michael Lashley.
There were also changes in lay leadership organization. In April 1993, the diaconate was expanded from 36 members to 48 and the position of deacon emeriti established. In 1995, a new stewardship plan was introduced. Previously the church budget was not prepared until after pledges were made. Under the new plan, a budget was presented, and members were asked to “pledge to the budget”. For several years, a Stewardship breakfast was held the first Sunday of Advent to celebrate the success of this new process.
There was more unwelcome news with regard to the Southern Baptist Convention. In June 1990, Dr. Kremer wrote, “The SBC has we have known it is dead. The fundamentalist forces of the convention have an unshakable control of our convention.” In February 1991, the SBC Radio and Television Commission voted to acquire Jerry Falwell’s TV Network. In 1992, the church formally changed the December missions offering from the “Lottie Moon Offering” to be the “Global Mission Offering of the CBF. In the state, Friends of Missions was formed was formed in 1993, dedicated to preserving the Baptist Heritage emphasis on priesthood of the believer, autonomy of the local church, separation of church and state, Scripture and the sole authority for our conscience, and appreciation for tolerance and diversity. The group put forth a slate of officers for the State Convention but a conservative, Coy Prevett was elected.
In early 1990, a committee was named to oversee the construction of the new building. The church voted in early 1991 to name the new building for Claude and Katherine Broach. The building campaign, “Our Face is Set for the Future”, was announced in March 1990 for an estimated cost of $2.5 million. By June, pledges had been made totaling $2,823,200. The church authorized securing a line of credit for $2 million. The building contract was awarded in early 1991, with groundbreaking, “Hope for the Future”, held on March 7, 1991. By the end of the year, grades 3-6 were able to move to the newly renovated areas on the 3rd floor of the sanctuary building which was a part of the overall building plan. Note- there had previously been no connector between the third floors of the sanctuary building and the Chapel building at that time. The old kitchen off Lasater Hall was closed for three weeks in February-March, 1992 for moving, resulting in Family Night being cancelled for one week and dinner being purchased from KFC for the other two weeks. An Open House for the new building was held the end of March. The first Sunday School classes were held in the building on March 25. The formal dedication of Broach Hall was held on April 26 in connection with the 75th Anniversary Celebration of the church. MMAE’s Inn (Hospitality House) requested donations of cleaning supplies, and other small household items in anticipation of their opening in April. Because of a significant gift from an anonymous donor, the building debt was paid off in June 1999 and a note-burning took place during the morning service on July 25.
A new chapel organ was dedicated on April 7, 1991. This organ was originally thought to have been built around the middle of the nineteenth century. During its extensive restoration, strips of paper were discovered from cash disbursements dated 1858, indicating that organ was probably originally built in the 1840’s. In the weeks following the dedication, several concerts on the organ were held. Also during the 1990’s, a new hymnal, the Chalice Hymnal, was chosen and first used April 6, 1997. In 1990, the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible was chosen as the new pew Bible.
Mission Activities during the decade including support of several programs –Caring Program for Children (providing funds for children needing medical care), bone marrow donations, CROP, blood drives, Christmas parties held by the youth of the church for the “Miss Anita” children and later children in the afterschool program at the Johnston YMCA , Highland School, Friendship Trays, Community Food Rescue, Community Link, Dove’s Nest, Meck Ministries, International House, RAIN, Hospice, Red Cross, Operation Christmas Child, A Child’s Place, and Right Moves for Youth. For several years, the annual food drive held in March was dubbed “Bringing in the Greens” with a request for cans of green foods. The church began support of Room in the Inn in 1997. Crisis Assistance was supported for several years with the proceeds from a huge Attic Sale held in the gym. Two programs, Saturday Servants and Neighbor to Neighbor, allowed members to participate in projects with mission partners and to assist church members needing help with household chores. The Youth Mission Auction was held to raise funds for the Youth Summer Mission Trips. One of the more memorable trips was to the Summer Olympics held in Atlanta in 1996. They performed in the areas of mime, clowning, music, and puppetry. Because of his many years of community service, Bill Claytor was chosen to participate in the Olympic Torch relay as it passed through Charlotte on its way to Atlanta. In 1999, after Hurricane Floyd left destruction in the eastern part of the state, Bill Claytor, Tommy Almond, and Tom and Martha Bryson volunteered for two weeks with NC Baptist Men to help in the clean-up. St. John’s was one of the founding members of the United Baptist Association, created to promote cooperation between congregations of white and black churches. The UBA churches were responsible for the building of Hope Chapel to provide religious services to those from the Men’s Homeless Shelter. In 1993, the Home Missions Offering was given to Hope Chapel. The UBA also sponsored joint services on Martin Luther King Day, pulpit exchanges, and VBS for inner city children for several weeks during the summers. In 1995, the Child Development Center closed, and the church voted to allow Head Start to use those four classrooms. NC Harvest was allocated the space in the Broach Hall storage room to be used as a clearing house for food and for office space.
In 1992, deacons were assigned to families and to the home bound. In 1994, the Amor Proximi Committee was formed to identify those in the congregation who needed special attention or special care. At the end of the decade, the church voted to have only one service at 10:30 and there were initial discussions regarding the establishment of an Endowment fund.
There were also fellowship and learning opportunities. There were trips to Callaway Gardens, Amish Country, New Orleans, the Holy Land, local TV stations and Children’s summer trips to Spencer Shops and plays at CPCC. Members participated in Country Carnivals, tennis and golf tournaments, basketball games, trips to Hornets games, Salt Shakers, Fellowship Dinners, Couples Retreats, Discipleship Retreats to Fort Caswell, Youth Music Camp at Meredith and Children’s’ Camps at Camp Cheerio and Elk Shoals, , Speakers for the Men of the Church dinners included Mark Richardson, VP of the Panthers, Gene Puckett, editor of the Biblical Recorder, and Jeff Mullins, basketball coach at UNC-Charlotte. Bobby Bowden, football coach at FSU spoke during the morning service in 1997.
The Arts Committee sponsored an evening of fun with a DJ who played big band and beach music- shagging was encouraged. This group was also instrumental in the creation of the Wall of Art in the Broach Hall foyer under the direction of church member Zoltan Szabo, a renowned watercolorist. Plays were produced in a dinner theater format. In 1995, a church member, Effie Hall, sent out a request for men’s ties which she then incorporated into a quilt, “Bless Be the Tie”, now displayed in the Memorial Garden entrance. (Unfortunately, the key to the owners of the ties has been lost.) Celebrate St. John’s was continued in the 1990’s with Sundays being spent at Camp Thunderbird, Oehler’s Barbeque Barn, and Independence Park. Dr. Kremer wrote and directed plays at Christmas, “Christmas Makers” (1992), “Colonel’s Christmas (1994), and “Blue Christmas” (1997).
At the end of the decade, a Millennium Party was held sponsored by the Family Life Committee with a Fashion Show from the decades and covered dish dinner. Members were asked to bring food from their favorite decade and given examples– mac and cheese (1900-1940), gelatin salads, casseroles, KFC, and dump cakes (1940-1960), green bean casserole, Swedish meatballs, fondue, and “fast food” (1960-1980) and pizza, pasta, deli foods, and microwave dishes (1980-1999). Harriet Lasater was singled out to bring cookies.