While doing some research online yesterday I ran across a couple of images of old postcards of the earlier life of First Baptist Church of Oklahoma City. The one on the left depicts the church's White Temple facility. It was the congregation's home for about six years just after the turn of the last century. The church sold the building to the Masons and moved to its current location on Robinson Avenue. The second postcard shows the Robinson Avenue facility early in its development. The sanctuary on the left side of the post card became the congregation's home in 1912. The building on the right is an education building that Dr. William's led the congregation to build in the height of the Great Depression. The building carried his name until it was renovated and renamed for one of FBC's most famous pastors, Dr. Hershel Hobbs. But, when I look at these postcards it is not the history lesson that comes to mind. I think about the people who would have worshipped as a part of the church family in these earlier eras. I think about their hopes and dreams and the investment they made to the life of the church. I think about the hours they would have volunteered in service to others and each other. I think about the songs they would have sung and the prayers they would have offered. I think about them because I am clear that we stand on their shoulders. Their faithfulness serves as our spiritual legacy.
Many things have changed since these postcard were first published. Additional buildings were added and new missions and ministries were born. A seemingly endless parade of others have been baptized, married, had babies, and have been buried as a part of the rhythm of life at the church. We see a new era emerging, one defined my our service to our community and our mission to the world. We see KidsHope mentors loving and caring for kids at Eugene Field Elementary. We have witnessed the dramatic expansion of Good Shepherd Ministries. We have welcomed refugees from across the globe into our midst and sent people out in mission tasks in North America, South America, Africa, and Asia. Our worship reaches across generations and calls us into God's presence. God is at move in our midst. But, while I celebrate all that God is doing in our here and now, I cannot help to pause to thank God for those who claimed their place as a part of the First Baptist family in these earlier eras. It is my prayer that the congregation we are becoming honors the church we have been. I am glad for these postcards and the gentle reminder they offer me that we are part of a grand story of God's work in and through First Baptist Church of Oklahoma City. I can hardly wait to see what God will do next.
Grace and Peace, Tom