On Dec. 5, The First Baptist Church of Westfield kicked off their year-long celebration of the 150th anniversary of its founding. The commemorative dinner used the theme “Reliving the Journey." This event brought together current church members along with former members who have since scattered to many diverse regions, friends and building users.
Historical events were shared in a multimedia presentation that highlighted the people and the ministries that have been an important part of the church’s journey up to now. Members of the church provided testimonials sharing personal memories of church traditions of faith spanning back to the early days of the 20th Century. The evening’s music was drawn from pieces that have been used throughout the 150 year timespan.
Sunday service on Dec. 6 mirrored an order of worship of the 1900’s with a handwritten bulletin. Rev. Dr. Elmo Familiaran of the American Baptist of New Jersey led a prayer of dedication of 2016 and its planned activities, as well as brought the morning’s message.
The journey of First Baptist Church of Westfield began in December 1865 when Joshua Brown and Charles Dunham had initial conversations about founding the church. Gaining support from a diverse group of farmers, tradesmen, a retired minister, a teacher, a lawyer, housewives, children and a few businessmen the dream of Brown and Dunham was quickly realized.
Initially meeting in local homes to pray together and to share their faith in the teachings of Jesus Christ, this visionary group found swift success in raising the funds needed to acquire land and construct a beautiful stone church. On Dec. 20, 1866, the cornerstone of The First Baptist Church of Westfield was laid at 170 Elm Street and remains there today.
To culminate the 150th anniversary year of First Baptist Church of Westfield, the time capsule that was laid in the cornerstone on Dec. 20, 1866, will be opened in December 2016.