Vienna church celebrates 89 years

VIENNA – Vienna Baptist Church marked its 89th Anniversary by celebrating payment of the note covering the new sanctuary eight years early.

Joe Campbell, area market president, WesBanco, submitted the paid note to Steven Bratke, church moderator. The note was then shredded.

Members and friends met on Sept. 29 for a service of praise and thanksgiving to God for His many blessings. Highlighting the service was a video prepared by the Historical and Publicity Committee celebrating not only the history of the church, but recognizing the most senior members of the congregation.

Anna Lee Santee, baptized Nov. 15, 1942, was recognized as the oldest living member. She was the church’s pianist for more than 60 years. Also honored were Betty Cowger and Edward Wendleken.

The former pastor and his wife, the Rev. Dr. Nathan E. and Sauny Williams, were special guests. Rev. Williams played an important role in envisioning the new sanctuary and its completion. He noted the vision and its completion continued after his retirement under the present pastor, the Rev. William Brown.

Ground for the new sanctuary, narthex, and related facilities was broken on June 4, 2000. Crossover Sunday, March 3, 2002, the congregation moved from the old building to the newly constructed sanctuary.

The congregation corporately and individually rededicated and re-consecrated themselves to God’s service. Dedication was held on June 2, 2002.

After a 55-year wait, the bell tower was finally crowned with a steeple on Feb. 6, 2009. The steeple stands as a tribute to those founding members who felt the call in establishing a church in Vienna.

It honors all the families who have served God faithfully under the charter of 1924. The steeple is capped with a cross as a reminder of the source of life and hope in Christ for all people, standing as a marker to the community that “we are here as ambassadors of the King of Kings.”

The final project from the construction of the new sanctuary addition was installed on April 12, 2013. The five circles of stained glass, which are a part of the central arch above the baptistery, are Christian symbols: Holy Bible, Hand of God, Holy Communion, Dove, and the Crown of Thorns.

These original symbols by Shabe’s Stained Glass Studio in Huntington, W.Va., are handcrafted West Virginia glass.

This project was funded by undesignated gifts donated to the church “in Memory of ” …and “in Honor of …”

Vienna Baptist Church officially was organized on Oct. 10, 1924 with 37 charter members plus 24 who joined over 60 days. The first church building site was at 31st Street and Sixth Avenue.

On Aug. 1, 1951, ground was broken for what is now the old sanctuary on the present site at 34th Street and Grand Central Avenue. That space now serves as a community room and gym. Dedication services were held on March 1, 1953.

An educational wing was added April 1, 1962. Dedication was held on Nov. 18.

By April 20, 1970, there were 995 members, including 865 listed as Vienna residents.

The Rev. William (Bill) Brown has served as senior pastor since Jan. 1, 2007. Former ministers serving the congregation were the Rev. N. B. Hamrick, 1924-1925; the Rev. F. M. Tolbert, 1925-1956; the Rev. Dr. S. Ward Robinson, 1957-1974; the Rev. Arthur J. Hadley, 1975-1979; the Rev. Dr. Malcolm Broome, 1981-1988, and the Rev. Dr. Nathan E. Williams, 1990-2006.