Reverend Mayra Castañeda, Senior Pastor, shared inspiring words of welcome at the 150th Anniversary Luncheon held at the First Baptist Church of Westfield on Sunday, Dec. 4, immediately following the Sunday service. From near and far, former pastors, members and friends of the church came together to celebrate the long history of the church and continuing spiritual commitment of its members. Notable guests included former pastors Rev. William Frederickson, Rev. Louis Ruprecht, Rev. Suleima Rosario Diaz, family members of Rev. Elbert Gates who served as pastor from 1949-1959. Rev. Miriam Mendez, Associate Regional Pastor and Area Minister of The American Baptist Churches of New Jersey, who brought greetings and presented a congratulatory certificate to the church. Church moderator, Carleen Morris, read a Certificate of Recognition from the American Baptist Historical Society.
Westfield dignitaries in attendance included Mayor Andy Skibitsky who read and presented to Pastor Castañeda, the Town of Westfield's Proclamation congratulating the congregation "for the love and service to the Westfield community and beyond.” Rev. Anthony Randazzo and Deacon Tom Pluta from Holy Trinity Church also participated in the celebration. During the luncheon, the NJ Workshop for the Arts String Orchestra imbued the setting with harmonious tones of the season.
Luncheon attendees were brought back to 1866 through a reading of the history of the founding of the church and then a slide show that captured images of the original wooden church and members partaking in a variety of church activities over the years. Additionally, a video created during the 150th anniversary year captured many members’ reflections on the role of the First Baptist Church in their lives.
Opening of the 1866 time capsule, which includes items added in 1921 when the current building was under construction, was a point of unique interest on the program. Given that investigations undertaken to date have not yet pinpointed the time capsule’s precise location, plans for opening the time capsule have been deferred to 2017. Also in 2017, First Baptist will compile a 150th anniversary time capsule that will be preserved on church property.
Upcoming in 2017 a musical composition that has been commissioned in recognition of the 150th anniversary will be debuted at a concert to be scheduled in late spring. Michael Rosin, Director of Music Ministries at First Baptist, is the composer of this work and he will be conductor for the upcoming concert. Additional information regarding the late spring concert will be available at Sunday Worship, in the church newsletter, The Messenger, the church’s Facebook page and on the First Baptist Church website (www.fbcwestfield.org).