Church History

A Brief History of Church in the Acres (Baptist)
Organized and Incorporated – July 18, 1958

In 1957 some of the members of the First Baptist Church of Springfield were dismissed to form the Church in the Acres (Baptist). Many of the members lived in the 16 Acres area and felt the need of a church here. Early visions included a community outreach, day camp experiences and college-related ministry.

The first Sunday service of the Church in the Acres was held in the Sixteen Acres public School with 27 worshipers attending on December 1, 1957. The school was used as an interim church and Sunday school until September 27, 1959. Rev. Alfred H. Boutwell became interim pastor. Under his leadership the church grew to 117 members, and plans to build a church building developed. On September 27, 1959, the congregation left the Sixteen Acres School and had its first service in the new building.

On March 1, 1959, Rev. Charles L. McEachern became the first permanent minister. By 1965 Church in the Acres had 287 active members and 203 pupils in the Church School. Rev. Wilmer M. Potter was second pastor (1967 - 1971). Active membership grew to 375 by 1969. Over 200 non-members used the building each week. Rev. E. Gage Hotaling was our third pastor (1972 - 1984). This was a period of improving financial structure, increasing activities, outstanding worship services and strong loyalty to the Church.

During the ministry of Rev. David C. O’Brien (1985 - 1998), the Church revived its original dream of continued growth by building a sanctuary. Construction of the $900,000 expansion project was completed in 1992. The approximately 8,000 square foot addition contains a permanent sanctuary, offices, library and other supporting spaces. Rev. Dr. William Hayden served as our interim pastor from September 1998 through March 1999, followed by Rev. Harold J. Martin until the church voted to call our fifth pastor, Rev. Daniel J. Nicewonger (1999 – 2008). This was a time of expanded ministry and spiritual growth opportunities. On January 11, 2004 a second worship service was added, planned and led by a praise and worship team, and on November 8, 2004 Gregory S. Dyson joined our staff as Minister of Christian Education. On March 2, 2008 the church voted to move Pastor Dyson into the position of interim pastor, and on February 8, 2009 he became our sixth settled pastor. He was ordained into the Christian Ministry on September 20, 2009 and served as our pastor until August 2012. Rev. Steve Thompson followed as interim pastor serving from November 2012 through April 2014. From July 1, 2014 until January 31, 2016, Shiloh Bradshaw served as our Bridge Pastor and then left to resume full time seminary training. On March 1, 2016, Judy Jones assumed the role of our interim minister.

On June 12, 2016 The Church voted to call the Rev. Christopher Lister. Pastor Chris began his service as our seventh settled pastor on July 1, 2016.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005 | © copyright 2005 | Church in the Acres | Springfield, Massachusetts