Rev. Estey resigned in June of 1951 and terminated his pastorate in July 1951.
Four months later a call was extended to Rev. Everett Greene. He and Mrs. Norma Green began their work in September 1951. Miss Janice Carter and Rev. Charles Davis, students at the Divinity School, assisted Mr. Greene.
In the fall of 1952 the church raised $2400 to install a new furnace in the parsonage and paint the church sanctuary. New green draperies were made for the front of the sanctuary to cover the baptistery opening. At a regular business meeting in April 1953 the pastor reported 329 persons on our church membership roll. Church school grew to the extent of needing new classrooms.
With the arrival of the year 1954, it was time for the congregation of the Penfield Baptist Church to celebrate another venerable milestone in its history, the 150th Anniversary. Special services were held both morning and evening on the two Sundays. There were also special events included during the week of celebration. On Wednesday evening, a church supper for the families and invited guests of the church was held. On Friday night a historical pageant was held, followed by a reception for the local community and members of the Baptist Union of Rochester and Monroe County. A commemorative plate was created for members of the congregation.
On Sunday morning October 31, 1954, Dr. Wilbur Eddy Saunders, President of the Colgate Rochester Divinity School, gave the sermon entitled, “The Test of the Years.rdquo; At the evening service on October 31st , former pastor Rev. Robert H. Beaven, Chaplain of the Divinity School, gave the sermon on “The Requirements of Destiny.rdquo;
Our church supper celebration was held on November 3rd. . Because the committee felt that the whole congregation should sit down together as a church family and not have to have some of the ladies working in the kitchen, the ladies of the East Penfield Baptist Church were approached, and for a donation of $50 to their building fund, they graciously consented to put on one of their famous chicken dinners. The Board of Trustees voted to subsidize the cost of the dinner with the adults paying $.75 and the children paying $.35 each. In this way it was felt that no one would be prohibited from attending the dinner because of monetary reasons.
On Friday evening, November 5, 1954, a historical pageant entitled, “A Sunday in Springrdquo; was given in the church sanctuary. The pageant was written by Mrs. Sylvia Miller and narrated by Miss Saralynn Schuman. The furnace had been dismantled due to the remodeling project currently going on in the basement but a goodly crowd huddled in their coats and enjoyed the pageant and tableaux.
On Sunday morning November 7, 1954, Rev. Quentin Lightner, D.D. and Director of Religious Activities at Keuka College, preached the sermon. His inspiring message was entitled “The Church---Dead or Alive.rdquo; The final service of the 150th Anniversary was a Candlelight Communion Service.
In 1954 it was voted to try to raise $20,000 by selling 10-year bonds at 3.5% interest. The money ($18,000) was used to expand our facilities. New classrooms and a pastor’s study and hallway were to be built under the sanctuary. Mr. Storrs Barrows was engaged as architect and work was begun. The church members did most of this work. Needless to say it was quite an exciting time, and sometimes very frustrating, but members kept on working,and eventually the task was completed. The lower level under the Sanctuary was connected to the lower level of the fellowship hall building. Two new gas furnaces were installed at a cost of $4,000. Need pictures of the dig.
During this time Penfield began to grow. In 1950 the town had a population of 4,851. By 1960 it had grown to 12,559. Thus the church also grew.
In 1955, after serving us for four years, Rev. Greene felt that he could no longer accept some of the beliefs of the Baptist denomination and in July 1955, offered his resignation to the congregation and entered Harvard University to study for the Episcopal ministry. The church had grown under his guidance, and with reluctance bade him good-by.
Again, the church was without a pastor but not for long. Rev. Dr. Leland Foster Wood became interim minister from July 1955 until December 4, 1955. Everyone in the church came to love this man who was so willing to give of himself and to minister in such a loving way. To the children he was a joy as he told them the Bible stories. Rev. Wood was 70 years young. He was much loved by all.
In November 1955 Rev. George Earnshaw came as a candidate and on December 11, 1955 he began his official duties. His family consisted of his wife, Claire, and three daughters, Dale, Joyce and Helen.
Rev. Earnshaw came before the church remodeling was completed, but the work continued on schedule. The old baptistry had to be replaced when they began to remodel the sanctuary, so again in 1956, under the direction of Tom Galley, a new baptistery was constructed. Tom conceived the idea of the woodland mural as a background. Ferns gathered from Galley’s woods were arranged in a polyester panel. Claire Earnshaw, who was an artist, assisted in this work.
On Palm Sunday 1957 the baptistry was dedicated. This nearly completed a three-year building program with a new baptistery, eight new classrooms, pastor’s study, hallways and new furnaces. In December 1957, the Sanctuary was re-dedicated. Dr. Albert DeMott, Executive Secretary of the Baptist Union of Rochester and Monroe County was the honored guest. (Dr. DeMott was the grandfather of Sandra L. DeMott Hasenhauer who served as Minister of Education and Family Life from 1997 – 1999 and then Co-Interim Pastor 1998 – 2000.)
At this time there was a large choir under the direction of Tom Miller. The choir had the fun of singing on television. Two services were held on Christmas and Easter and the choir sang at both services. A breakfast was served between services. This tradition continued on these holiday Sundays as long as the two services were held. The church held a bazaar that was very successful and earned the money for a commercial electric dishwasher.
The town of Penfield continued to grow at a fast pace and the Baptist Church grew as well with large families quickly filling the new classrooms and Sanctuary. The church welcomed members from many denominations into our fellowship during that time because of the dedicated ministry of Rev. Earnshaw. The church began having two Worship services on Sunday morning, one at 9:00 and a second at 11:00 with Sunday school in between. The earlier service became the more popular of the two services, and as the congregation grew, this service filled the Sanctuary to capacity. In 1959 the church began to sponsor Boy Scout troop 230.
While Rev. Earnshaw was here, the family grew with the addition of a daughter named Joan. The Earnshaws moved into a new parsonage at 1935 Penfield Road in 1959. In the fall of 1961 Rev. Earnshaw resigned as pastor. Fred and Kate Hudson served the church as Rev. Earnshaw’s assistants during this time. Dr. Leland Foster Wood again became interim until a new minister was called.
In January of 1962, Rev. Randolph Hellwig, his wife Nancy, daughter Valley and baby Brad moved into the parsonage on Penfield Road.
In 1962 the church purchased a Carillon which was placed in the bell tower. Money for the Carillon came from the memorial fund and from members of the congregation. The chimes rang on the hour and half-hour, called us to church, and played hymns for the community at 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. each night. The weekly church newsletter was renamed “The Carillon.rdquo;
While Rev. Hellwig was minister, the membership continued to increase (around 500) until we again felt the need for more church school space. The church was offered a plot of land on Whalen Road, but in May of 1963 they voted to stay at 1862 Penfield Road and to acquire property to the east of the church. Mr. & Mrs. Elmer Knapp and Mr. Harvey Thomas had each previously given the church a strip of land at the north, providing needed parking space. The church had purchased the Vogt property immediately east of the sanctuary building while the Rev. Ernshaw was here, trading the old parsonage on Five Mile Line Road (South Avenue) for the Vogt house and purchasing the new parsonage at 1935 Penfield Road. Next the church purchased the Harvey Thomas property for $19,200 with Harvey to have lifetime use of the house. Deacon Emeritus Harvey Thomas passed away in 1967. The house then became the custodian’s house. The church budget for the year 1964 was $40,281.
Roger Covell was assistant minister from 1962 to 1963, when he graduated from the Divinity School. In July 1963, Sarah Herod came from Andover Newton Theological School. The church had decided to add a Director of Religious Education before they began planning for the new educational building.
A building committee was appointed in 1963 and planning began. The contract was given to the Houghton Construction Company of Elmira NY in the spring of 1966. In May, Rev. Hellwig spent a month on the ship “Hoperdquo; which was a traveling hospital. The ship was in port in Nicaragua in Central America during that time. The day Rev. Hellwig left for Nicaragua the bulldozer began to dig the basement for a new three-story educational building. It was built with 12 classrooms for children from birth through sixth grade and a church office on the top two floors, and a fellowship hall and kitchen on the bottom floor. A paved parking lot for 150 cars was constructed at the rear of the building. Dedicated on November 18, 1966, the cost of the three-story education building was $311,000. A mortgage of 190,000 for 20 years was signed to finance the building.
When the new building opened in the fall of 1966, all classrooms were in use with a grade in each room of the new building and classes for the youth were under the Sanctuary and Old Fellowship Hall. Adult education was in the new fellowship hall. An early evening Christmas Eve service was added for the children. There were active Junior High (grades 7 – 9) and Senior High (Grades 10 ndash; 12) Youth groups (BYF-Baptist Youth Fellowship), and a children’s choir. An annual church picnic was held. Fidelis, continuing from 1947, was active as the woman’s organization and the men had a monthly fellowship dinner. The church letterhead referred to the church as “A Church With An Educational Ministry.rdquo;
The built-in-place baptistery tub of 1956 had become plagued by leakage, so in March 1968, a pre-fabricated replacement was installed by volunteers. What made this project unique was that the new shell had been purchased specifying tub dimensions but came with a lip that made it larger than the available space. The volunteers finally created a way to install the new baptistery tub.
While Rev. Hellwig was pastor there were three major outreach projects. One was the Christian Landlords, Inc. A house was purchased in the city and was made livable by many helping hands from the congregation. Christian Landlords placed a family in the house and carried their mortgage on the home for many years. Another project was the start of the Penfield Village Nursery School. It served not only our preschool children but children from the community as well. The third project was to try to help someone in a minority community start a new business on their own. After much research and looking for an appropriate person, that project was finally canceled.
In 1968 Randy and Nancy Hellwig adopted a baby boy. In June of 1969 Rev. Hellwig resigned as minister to go to Chicago to study for his Doctorate at the Chicago Theological Seminary.
During the time when Rev. Hellwig was here the church continued to participate in the Divinity School training of new ministers. In 1967-68 the church had four students, Paul Christie, Richard Sammer, Janice Skinner, and David Tomkinson, as well as the minister and Director of Religious Education. This partnership with Colgate Rochester Divinity School not only enriched the church’s ministerial leadership, but was seen to be another way to continue to focus on an “educational ministryrdquo; and followed a long history of co-operation with the divinity school.
For three years (1964-1966) the church joined with other churches in Penfield to provide a Vacation Bible School experience. It was a time of ecumenical cooperation. American Baptists joined other Protestant denominations to provide a comprehensive church school curriculum. Classes for children from birth through sixth grade met from 9:00 to 11:00 for extended classes. Youth and adults met from 10:00 to 11:00. Many of the teachers participated in the School of Religion, sponsored by the Rochester Area Community of Churches where they increased their knowledge and skills for their teaching ministries..
In 1969 Sarah Herod Kohlenberg was serving as our Director of Religious Education. Paul Christie returned as assistant pastor for the year. Rev. Orin Baker served as interim minister. The new building was being used to full capacity by the Penfield Village Nursery School, Blood Bank of the Red Cross, Rotary Club, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and many other community organizations. This was to fulfill the church’s desire to have the building open to community use and not sit empty. The fall the building opened, BOCES (Board of Cooperative Educational Services) used several of the classrooms during the week until their new building was completed in Fairport. Harris Hill School also used the building for six weeks while their school was completed in 1968. Total church membership in December 1969 was 613 with a financial budget of $74,953.
In the fall of 1969 the congregation called its 51st pastor, Rev. Robert Towner, to serve the church. Mr. Towner, Helen, his wife, and his daughters, Susan, Gretchen, and Beth took up residence in the parsonage. This was a busy time for the church. Fidelis continued to serve the Rotary meals each week, a project began in 1950. The earnings went to mission projects here and around the world and for special items needed by the church. For many years the men and women gave a Christmas party for the residents at Sonyea Epileptic Hospital. They took the Rotary Band and our church-sponsored boy scout troop. It was a good time of fellowship for all, both in the preparation of the party and the actual event. These parties continued until Sonyea ceased to exist. The women continued to provide help at the Fairport Baptist Home, serving on its service board and helping the residents.
In 1970 Sarah Herod Kohlenberg resigned as Director of Religious Education and Kenneth McCarthy, who was in his last year at the Divinity School, became student minister from Sept. 1970 till May 1971. The total membership climbed to 622.
In 1971 David Tomkinson became Teaching Minister. The congregqtion joined with Penfield Methodist in July and August for combined Worship services It was a good time of fellowship for the two churches. The Sanctuary building exterior was painted in the fall. Rev. Tomkinson introduced a learning community, intergenerational approach to church school, which continued for four years.
In 1974 the Congregation received a request from the Trustees for a $25,000 renovation project for the Sanctuary building and parsonage driveway. The campaign to raise the money was approved by the congregation. The inside of the Sanctuary was redecorated including a chandelier and a wooden cross, given in memory of Robert Funk, Jr. The organ was repaired and the console relocated on the west side of the chancel area. Under the dedicated care of Bryant Parsons the organ was cared for and expanded to be a large instrument that was used effectively by our many talented organists. New front doors were constructed and the 1889 memorial windows were to be covered with protective plexiglass using funds given by the Fidelis Society. (Project was done in 1982.) The outside of the Sanctuary building was covered with aluminum siding and the trim painted. The historical features of the church architecture were retained with the outside aluminum restoration. Decorative trim on the roof overhang was retained along with corner columns. The church also took ownership of 30 acres of land above Conesus Lake to hold for Boy Scout Troop 230, which the church sponsors. The church approved a proposal to create a Penfield Historical District, which would include the church property.
When the Rev. Towner was called as our pastor, Helen was very ill. Prayers for her recovery were heard and answered in a very wonderful way and she was able to participate again in the life of the church to a limited degree. Mr. Towner’s gift of a beautiful singing voice and his gift of preaching were a joy to the congregation. In 1975 the church membership was 711.
David Tomkinson served as Teaching Minister from 1971 to 1974. Following him, the church had three student ministers. Lawrence Van Spriell (1974 to1976), Mark Nothnagle (1975 to 1977) and James Hegley (1977-78). In July of 1978 the church called Rev. Elizabeth Olney-Stroop to be Assistant Pastor.
In the early 70’s the church began to have a Fall Festival to help raise money for the Sonyea Christmas Party. The party for the Psychiatric hospital in Sonyea, NY had now become a project of the whole church, not just the Men’s Fellowship and Fidelis. The festival consisted of booths of crafts, baked goods, country store, plant shop, new-to-you booth, and a gourmet restaurant. It continued in various forms through the year 2004.
After a period of 45 years with no ordinations, the First Baptist Church had the privilege of ordaining three persons to the Christian ministry in four years. Lawrence Van Spriell was ordained on May 9, 1976, Mark Nothnagle on January 16, 1977 and Dadgie Gersitz on July 1, 1979. Church membership at the end of 1978 was 721 and the budget was $105,239.
In 1979 the church celebrated 175 years of ministry in Penfield with a weekend of events including displays, supper, reception and Sunday Worship. An anniversary quilt was made by members of the church and hung in New Fellowship Hall.
A strange happening occurred during communion that fall. One side of the congregation was served snow cone syrup instead of grape juice. Their reaction was obvious. Once it was discovered that no one would get ill it became a funny incident to tell.
In 1980 the church sponsored a refugee family from Laos. Khemphone Keosebounheuang, his wife Kinneree, his sister Pa and her two children. Fidelis provided plexiglass coverings for the Sanctuary windows. This was the last year we did the Sonyea Christmas party since the residents were being moved out.
Maggie Monroe-Cassel served as student minister during the 1981 school year.
In 1982 it was discovered that the church steeple was becoming weak and dangerous, and needed immediate repair. One of the corner support beams was supporting nothing at all. The bell was removed from the tower. Thomas Carr began to serve as student (assistant) minister.
In 1983 concern for the condition of the organ prompted formation of the organ committee. A fall financial campaign resulted in pledges toward the reconstruction of the tower and purchase of a new organ. Baroque-By-Candlelight became a fund raising effort for the needed organ. This event, held with the Sanctuary totally lit by candlelight, was designed by Carolyn G. Schrock, church organist. She played the harpsichord and was joined by flute and violin. It was attended by an overflow crowd. One half of the roof of the Educational Building was added to the repair list.
We celebrated the 40th anniversary of Rev. Bob Towner's ordination on November 27, 1983. During the fall of 1983 the final payment was made on the educational building mortgage and the mortgage was burned during worship in January 1984.
In 1984 the congregation approved $110,000 for the purchase of the new Andover organ and the renovation of the bell tower. In his annual report Rev. Robert Towner commends the organ committee for its work.
“First, they determined that the cost of the repair of our current organ was prohibitive, second, that it should be replaced with a tracker action organ, third, that a new tracker was preferable to a re-conditioned old one, fourth which stops within a limited budget might best constitute the new instrument, fifth which of the numerous companies should be give the contract, and sixth and most difficult of all, which position of placement of the organ in the sanctuary would be the least objectionable as well as the most functional. It was a Herculean assignment.”
The church bell was hung in a brick planter in the yard to the west of the Sanctuary with a sign identifying our church and it's 1804 origin. The planter was dedicated to the memory of Julie Andrews. The bell was hand-rung on special occasions like children's day, etc. Rev. Towner retired in July of 1984 completing fifteen years of ministry here. Baroque-By-Candlelight had over 250 in attendance that fall, and many were turned away.
Rev. Mary Anne Forehand was interim minister for three months, then the Rev. George Middleton became interim from Nov. 1, 1984 until August 1985. The new organ and bell tower were dedicated on January 20, 1985. Dr. David Craighead gave a special recital on the new organ on March 3, 1985.
In August 1985 Rev. Thomas Clifton was called to be pastor. He, his wife, Audrey, and their two daughters, Sandy and Jill lived in the parsonage at 1935 Penfield Road. He began a Wednesday night Bible Study which continued until 2000, with pastors leading the Bible study. Marilyn Marshall became the student minister from September 1985 through May 1986.
From 1984 through 1986 the Heritage Baptist Church shared our buildings until they grew to a size where they could move to their own facilities.
Kevin Butler became the student minister in September, 1986. The youth choir under the direction of Carolyn Schrock performed a delightful cantata called “Zirubbabel.rdquo; In October a handicapped access ramp to the Sanctuary was built and dedicated. In 1987 Kevin Butler took the youth group to work on a Habitat for Humanity project in a Coburn, PA. The youth group (now called the American Baptist Youth) went to Connecticut in 1988. These projects continued until labor laws were passed which forbade youth working on the houses. The Habitat project then became a project for the whole church. Some years the Penfield churches sponsored building a house in the city for Habitat for Humanity. Members of the church volunteered to work on other houses being constructed for Habitat For Humanity in Rochester.
The congregation was involved in the Billy Graham Crusade in Rochester in 1988.. The Penfield-East Penfield Co-operative Ministry Project was established to reach out to unchurched members of the community. Charlene Austin (Char) was hired. Services were taped for shut-ins and once again we began home communions for shut-ins.
In 1988 the church celebrated 40 years of serving Rotary International meals once a week to raise money for mission and church projects. As many as fifty women a week helped buy groceries, bake, cook, set up, serve, or clean up. A new professional dishwasher was purchased. The choir purchased new choir robes which were light gold with green trim. A new sound system was installed in the Sanctuary which included a loop to allow those with hearing aids to hear more clearly.
Overhead fans were installed in the sanctuary in 1989. The 20th Fall Festival was held in conjunction with the town’s Penfield Days, the proceeds used for benevolences. During these years a group of retired and self-employed men began to gather at the Penfield Tavern for lunch on Thursdays. (When the Tavern closed the group moved to the Humphrey House and continued to meet in 2004.)
In 1990 a set of bells was purchased with Memorial funds. Mrs. Kay Brockway lead the youth bell choir which was called the Royal Ringers. The choir director led the adult bell choir. In September Sarah Greenfield-Tuttle became out Assistant Minister. The Fall Festival raised $1000 for a Baptist Seminary in Moscow.in 1991. Sharon Pratt became our Director of Education and Family Life. The Sanctuary interior was painted and new carpeting installed. Some older members of the congregation began to gather on Fridays for fellowship. They later became known as the “Fun and Frolicrdquo; group usually gathering on the first Friday of the month.
In association with “Linkages” and under Joe Gersitz’s direction, we became a sister church to the Baptist Church in Novgorod, Russia in 1992. The church participated in the shipment of food, and medical supplies to the city of Novgorod. Several shipments followed with continuing contributions from church members. The Penfield Village Nursery School celebrated its 25th anniversary. In October Rev. Clifton celebrated the 25th anniversary of his ordination. The Congregation approved the use of interest from the endowment fund up to 5% a year for the yearly operating budget. Work was done on the exterior of the Thomas (custodian's) house.
In June of 1993 Rev. Clifton took a sabbatical to study in England. When he returned he was offered the position of President of Central Theological School in Kansas City. The Rev. Leardrew Johnson served as interim pastor from November 1993 through December 1994. Monthly donations of food began to be received for Cameron Community Ministeries in Rochster.
In May 1994, funding was approved for converting the bathrooms in New Fellowship Hall into handicap access facilities. An elevator was installed at the east end of the Educational building, making all three floors of the educational building and the Conference Room and Old Fellowship Hall in the old fellowship hall building handicapped accessible. The stained glass windows in the Sanctuary were cleaned and repaired.
In January 1995 Rev. Dr. Robert Rennie began his ministry with us. He and his wife, Judy, routinely served Rotary meals with Fidelis every Tuesday night. Average attendance at the 9:30 a.m. Worship service was 140 during the winter and spring, 96 during the summer, and 137 during the fall. During 1996 the custodian's house was renovated, and a new storage shed was purchased.
On May 15, 1997, the churches of Penfield created the Penfield Ecumenical Food Shelf. Our church provided the space for the Food Shelf in rooms under Old Fellowship Hall. They began to receive donations of food which were collected at Worship. (As of our 200th Anniversary the food shelf continued to serve those in need in Penfield and used our church as its center.) The church hired Rev. Sandra L. DeMott Hasenauer as Associate Minister responsible for Education and Family Life. A love gift of $5500 was sent to the Baptist Church in Grand Forks, ND, to aid flood victims.
In 1998 the stairwell in the southwest corner of the old fellowship hall building was reconstructed and a half story elevator installed to provide handicapped access to the Sanctuary from the Old Fellowship Hall. The only parts of the building complex not handicapped accessible became the rooms under the Sanctuary and Old Fellowship Hall. Rev. Rennie returned to New England to serve a church in Pittsfield, Mass. in December of 1998. Rev. Hasenauer and Dr. William R. Herzog II, served as co-interim pastors. The decision was made to sell the Parsonage at 1935 Penfield Road. Part of the money would be held to help incoming pastors with a second mortgage, if necessary, in the purchase of their own home. Penfield Village Nursery School celebrated 30 years of quality early childhood education and Fidelis received recognition from the Penfield Rotary Club for 50 years of providing dinners for the club.
In 1999 the Penfield Rotary Club was experiencing difficulty maintaining good attendance at their weekly Tuesday evening meetings and asked if the church could serve a luncheon meal. After prayerful study, Fidelis and Rotary decided to end their fifty-year association. Most of the younger women of the church now worked outside the home and there were not enough women to provide the help needed to weekly prepare luncheon meals. Benevolence funds were raised by suppers, a plant sale, and monthly envelope contributions. Several projects included new roofing over the sanctuary and Old Fellowship Hall, new furnaces for those two buildings, new carpet in the “tunnelrdquo; under the sanctuary and in the food shelf area, and a new fire alarm system.
Rev Lisa Holliday was called as Senior Pastor and her husband, Christopher Earl Holliday as Associate Pastor in September 2000. The Organ chimes were repaired in 2000 and rededicated on December 12, 2001. The tower carillon was replaced and dedicated on January 27,2002. The land to the west of the church, donated to the church by Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Knapp in 1954, was “leased for 100 yearsrdquo; to the Town of Penfield to create a Heritage Park for the town.