Shelby’s Westview Baptist Church celebrates 60th anniversary

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Westview Baptist Church will celebrate its 60th anniversary on Sunday. The church celebrates with a music service, a special message from a former pastor, and lunch.

Westview Baptist was born out of a need from the surrounding community.

“At the time, this side of town was still developing, and there was a need for church planting,” said Tom Forney, who has been a Westview member since 1995. “It was really growth. from the community and grew up from the expanding downtown area. “

Established in 1961, the church began to operate without a home. Services were held every Sunday and Wednesday at Oak and Graham Elementary Schools.

“It was a little weird back then because the church kids went to these schools,” said Charles Raines, whose mother, Louise, is one of the two founding members of the church still in existence. life today.

Sam Iris Greer is also still alive. She and Louise were among the first 50 people to join Westview Baptist.

“When the church was in the schools, you went to school and it would be school. But then a trailer would come and they would unload everything and it would be the church,” Charles said. “Then when the shift was over, they loaded the trailer and the school was back to being a school. “

In 1964, the church broke ground on Melody Lane. This building was a wooden barn style sanctuary with space for two Sunday school classes. Services began in the new building in 1965.

A photo of the 1964 opening of the chapel at Westview Baptist Church.

Soon after, Doris and Myles Whitaker joined Westview.

“We had just moved to the area and came to visit here and I don’t think we’ve visited anywhere else,” Doris recalls. “Everyone was so friendly. This was where we wanted to be.”

In the 1980s, the church expanded again, paving the way for a second shrine next to its original building. The original building is still in use today and houses the more contemporary service of the church. It was modernized this year with new musical instruments, lighting and sound equipment.

Reverend Rick Bowling poses inside Westview Baptist Church on Melody Lane in Shelby on Monday afternoon, August 2, 2021.

Love your neighbors

In the biblical gospel of John, Jesus Christ is quoted commanding his disciples to love one another as he loved them. According to the current pastor of the church, Reverend Rick Bowling, these are instructions the people of Westview have taken to heart.

“This church is one of the most loving churches I have ever known in my life,” Bowling said. “And it goes beyond warm and fuzzy feelings. Love goes deeper than that, accepting people where they are, having oneness – there is a difference between being uniform and having oneness – c is the beautiful thing I see in this church. “

Seen at the inauguration of the present sanctuary are (from left) Norman "Bud" Talley, Maurice Alsobrook, JB Spangler, Gilbert Greene, Ollie Mae Wood, Reverend Roland Leather and Charles Nalley.

Since 1982, the church has sponsored more than a dozen mission trips, including nine outside the United States. Throughout the year, the church maintains an angel tree in each of its shrines, sponsoring children in Honduras.

“If you’ve got the love of God, you’ve got the Holy Spirit flowing through you, and I pray that it will continue through the body of Christ here,” Bowling said.

Prepare for the future

In a time when nationwide church attendance is on the decline, reaching 60 is no small feat, but Bowling said his church is taking action now to ensure the church can stay open for years to come.

One of the biggest investments, he said, was in a second service.

An old photo of Vacation Bible School at Westview Baptist Church in Shelby.

“Our kids like a more contemporary, more music-oriented service, so we started offering that,” Bowling said. “We have a live band. They lead the service with music, and then either me or our new youth pastor come and deliver a message with that.”

These alternative services also extend to church programs for children and youth, which function less like an extended Sunday school program and more like weekly Bible school trips.

Children learn through music, videos, skits and other interactive tools while their parents are at church.

Dustin George can be reached at 704-669-3337 or [email protected]

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