St. John’s Baptist Church

Worship | Sundays @ 10:30am

Church Staff in the 1950s

From the Heritage Room:

A couple of additional comments about the buildings—

The elevator was installed in the early 1950’s. When the Educational Building (Chapel Building) was built, the third floors of the original sanctuary building and the Educational Building were not connected. The upper floors were not connected until the Broach Hall building was built in the early 1990’s. Air conditioning was installed in 1958. We have pictures of the Sanctuary Building with the windows open. The highest temperature in the 1950’s was 104.

Church Staff in the 1950’s-

As the congregation grew, there were also changes to the staff during the decade. Cecil Rathel who held degrees from Stetson University and Southwestern Baptist Seminary came in 1952 as the Minister of Education. He was followed in 1956 by Frank Perry who had attended UNC-Chapel Hill and Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville. He only stayed a year and was followed by John Totten in 1957 who finished out the decade. Kenneth Dooley came to St. John’s as Minister of Music in 1949. One interesting note about Mr. Dooley—he studied with Fred Waring in New York during the summer in 1951. He brought back ideas for lighting effects for the Christmas cantata that year and asked for assistance from the lighting director with the Charlotte Opera. He announced in early 1953 that he was leaving.

Paul Langston was chosen as his successor. He came directly from his graduation from the School of Music at Southern Baptist Seminary and earned his doctorate from Union Theological Seminary after coming to St. John’s. He was widely recognized as a composer, an organ recitalist, and a choral director. He taught at Davidson and Queens College and served as the Assistant Director of the Oratorio Singers. While at St. John’s, he was responsible for seven choirs, three of which performed each Sunday. His most popular work, an anthem setting of three stanzas of the hymn-text, “God of Grace and God of Glory”, was composed at the suggestion of Dr. Claude Broach. He resigned in July 1960 and moved to DeLand, Florida where he served on the music faculty as both teacher end department chair of Stetson University.

During the decade there were several Youth Directors. Bea Herring began the decade but resigned in July 1951. A church member, Virginia Burkhead, served as the interim director but stated in October 1953 it was time to hire someone full-time. Mary Ellen Anderson came in 1954. She was a graduate of Stetson University and had a master’s degree from the WMU Training School in Louisville. She resigned in September 1957 and once again Virginia Burkhead filled in until June 1958 when the church hired Joann Setzer.

In 1956, the position of Children’s Minister held by Ruth Rodgers as part-time director became a full-time position in which she served until 1982.

Mrs. Fannie Rupelt (mother of Nina Phillips) continued as the Church Secretary throughout the 1950’s. There are few records concerning church secretarial staff other than names in the church bulletins (and the office was not always listed). A Records Secretary is listed in the bulletin beginning in 1956. Since there were over 1500 enrolled in Sunday School and very detailed records were kept of attendance, it is not surprising that a staff person was needed to keep records. Two special meetings had been held in 1951 for class and departmental secretaries to discuss “procedures for proper recordkeeping”. An Office Secretary is also listed for the later part of the decade.

There are no records of specific janitorial staff. However, the church employed a Church Hostess whose duties included supervision of the kitchen and meal preparation, responsibility for care of the buildings, and supervision of the custodial staff.