The seeds of our church were first planted in 1937 when a small Mission Chapel was constructed with hopes of reaching the young married residents of the Woodland Park area. In November of 1945, having been led as they believed, by the Spirit of God, 103 people joined together as one body of Christians to petition for the organization of Woodland Park Baptist Church. The group met the next night and held a prayer service, asking God’s leadership and blessing on the endeavor. Within a two-month period, the church had called a pastor, selected officers, accepted deacons coming from First Baptist Church, ordained four new deacons, adopted a budget, and selected a future site for purchase. Each step had been a step of faith bathed in prayer. God answered with guidance and blessing. Because space was limited in the wood frame Mission Chapel, some of the ladies’ Sunday School classes met in nearby homes; the men’s class met in a school bus.

 

Continued growth made the need for space more acute. Two deacons on the Site Committee were led by the Lord to some property large enough for a church site with an existing house. Even though there was no “For Sale” sign, they inquired throughout the neighborhood, found the name of the owner, and the property was purchased. Then, in 1949, a surplus army chapel was purchased for $1,000 to serve as the church sanctuary. The chapel was cut into sections and transported from Camp Shelby, near Hattiesburg, MS to the newly acquired property at Orange and Hanson Streets. Prior to Sunday service at the new building, members gathered one last time for prayer at the little Mission Chapel. Nehemiah 4:6 was the theme of services that day…”So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together; for the people had a mind to work.”

Even with the addition, space was still a problem. Sunday School classes were conducted throughout the auditorium, balcony, and in the parsonage next door. Later, a two-story Educational Annex was erected. This, too, proved to be inadequate. In 1955, the two-story parsonage was taken over entirely for Sunday School and Training Union use. Throughout these years, the most obvious accomplishments centered on the material progress. Of more importance though, was the steady growth in the fields of missions, evangelism, enlistment and education. The early Woodland Park Baptist Church had sponsored the Loranger Mission, which was organized into an independent Baptist church in 1956. “That so much has been done with so little by so few serves as undeniable evidence that God has guided and blessed the Woodland Park Baptist Church” they gratefully acknowledged at the 1957 Homecoming service. And the work of the faithful continued.

In 1962, the church purchased the Mount Calvary Lutheran Church property on the corner of Orange and Hanson. By 1965, a Building Committee was appointed to study the long-range needs. This committee was forced into immediate action when a fire destroyed both the Sanctuary and Educational Annex in March of 1966. Many believed the young church would never recover, but the church itself never gave up. A letter from the pastor was sent to all members urging them to pray together, worship together, and give together for the glory of the Lord. During this time of planning, Sunday services were held at the SLU Baptist Student Union. Groundbreaking ceremonies were held in 1967 for the new 6,000 square-foot sanctuary which would seat 350 people and for a 12,000 square-foot education building. In November of 1968, the first worship service was held. Between 1975 and 1978, additional property was purchased east and west of the church in view of a need for future expansion. According to the 1981 church history, “The solution to the finance problems of Woodland Park Baptist Church has depended up the degree of faith exercised by its members… God has blessed the church with dedicated people acquainted with sacrificial giving.”

In 1990 the blessing of continued growth in membership meant space was again limited. The church purchased two mobile buildings for educational space and added an early morning worship service. The Long-Range Planning Committee proposed a phased relocation to a site that would allow for continued ministry while building for more growth. And so, a search began for land that would have high visibility and easy access. Land fitting that exact description was purchased under such surprising circumstances that it was abundantly clear to all that God’s hand was involved. A successful Challenge to Build Campaign in the spring of 1991 enabled the church to pay off the cost of the land nine months ahead of the three-year campaign. The original phased relocation plan called for a multi-purpose family life building that would accommodate no less than 250 in Bible study and worship services. But, continued growth changed these plans, and in 1995 the plans were adjusted to meet the needs of 600 people. The current facilities were occupied in October 1999.

Woodland Park Baptist Church has grown from a neighborhood church to a community church to an area church; from a humble mission building with 103 members to a 33,000 square foot facility with over 1700 members and an additional 15 acres purchased. We are continuing to build the wall. Will you be among those who stays the task, who stands and builds? Can you hear the echoing voice of Nehemiah calling you to the wall today? Bring your trumpets, your hearts, your tithes and offerings, your dedication.

Come and build – the journey continues…

“So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together; for the people had a mind to work.”                  Nehemiah 4:6