Celebrating 65 years of service to the foothills

An anniversary is a time to revisit the past and look to the future. That’s what First Baptist Church at La Crescenta (FBCLC) is doing as the congregation plans its 65th anniversary celebration this Aug. 21-22 at 4441 La Crescenta Ave. in La Crescenta. Past and present church members and the general public are invited to join in the activities.
“People are coming from out of town and we recommend they make a weekend of it,” said Bill Flanders, who was called a year ago to be senior pastor of the church. “See old friends, share memories, and find out where you have a place here as we look to the future.”
“I remember as a child living here when the Baptist church was built. It was a really big deal,” recalled FBCLC current Worldwide Missionary Fellowship chairperson Betty Sweetnam. “At the time, there was only a Catholic and a Presbyterian church in town.” Sweetnam joined FBCLC in the 1960s.
The beginning of FBCLC was in 1945. Services were held in the home of Adolph and Leotine Gronlund on Mary Street in La Crescenta. This small group of Baptists had foresight, wanting their church in a residential neighborhood near local schools, in hopes of future family growth. They organized as a church with 15 charter members and took the name First Baptist Church at La Crescenta.
The first building, a sanctuary, opened in 1946 at 4409 La Crescenta Ave. with an emphasis on Bible, family activities and “continuing Bible education from the ‘cradle to the crypt,’” according to Bernard A. Travaille, FBCLC senior pastor for almost 30 years.
The church family grew and more buildings were built including a new sanctuary at the present location and a Christian education building at the comer of La Crescenta and Community Avenue.
FBCLC faced exciting times and challenging times, including the 6.5 magnitude earthquake in Southern California in 1971. There were some minor problems like falling library books, but the physical plant at FBCLC proved sound. Long–time member and recent church deacon Ray Heumann confirmed, “God is alive and well. He’s kept our doors open.”
Some programs started in the early days are still going strong, like the church’s emphasis on missions. In Ruth P. Hammer’s church history book, “Building on the Rock 1945-1995,” she wrote: “Over the years, FBCLC would send and care for more than 100 long and short term missionary families in the states and around the world. These are people who went for the love of the Lord and for the sake of those who had never heard of Jesus.”
Today some of the other programs available to the FBCLC congregation and the public are Love Circle visits to the house-bound; Bible studies; ARK activities for middle and high schoolers; men’s and women’s ministries; Fall Festival (“trunk or treat”); Mother’s Day Out; Special Friends for the developmentally disabled; quilting group; Labor of Love (handyman help); Christmas Gift Workshop, Vacation Bible School, AWANA scripture learning for church and neighborhood children; various prayer groups and Sunday school classes, and major celebrations at Easter and Christmas.
The congregation now shares its plant facilities with two other Christian churches: Christ Armenian Church and New Song Korean Church, meeting Sundays in the afternoon and morning, respectively.
The highlights of Saturday, Aug. 21, will be children’s games, a picnic at CV Park, reunion choir rehearsal and dinner in the Fellowship Hall. Call the church for $10 dinner tickets. Converge, Baptist General Conference President Jerry Sheveland will be guest speaker. On Saturday evening dinner will be from 5:00 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. The Celebration Service with Jerry Shevland speaking will be from 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. The contemporary service will be from 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. with praise and sharing.
On Sunday Jerry Shevland will be the guest speaker at the regular 10:45 a.m. service.
All services will be in the sanctuary.
Call FBCLC for more information, (818) 249-5832.

Contributed by FBCLC