PANEL X - 1990 to 2005
Through these challenging years for the church and nation, Central Baptist continued to be the home of a faithful, active and diverse congregation. Always seeking to bridge differences between God's people, Senior Pastor Paul G. Gillespie (1989-99) transformed the worship service to incorporate the languages of the members, including French, Spanish and Vietnamese. As with many urban churches throughout the country, Central's membership continued to age and decline in these years, and Pastor Paul called on the congregation to encourage inactive members into activity and redouble our efforts to bring new people to Christ and add them to our congregation and ministry. Happily, Central's Vietnamese ministry expanded, thanks in large part to Associate Pastor Nguyen Duc Ich, who was ordained in 1999. After six years at Central, another beloved shepherd, Associate Pastor Hopeton Scott (1989-95) was called to be senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Bridgeport. Pat Dec led the Children and Youth Ministries for 10 years, from 1991-2002. Thanks to Pat's dedication and energy, Central's young members learned about the love of Christ at soup kitchens, AIDS shelters and other places where help was needed. Pat also led the youth on trips across the country to conferences and other events to solidify and expand their faith.
For young and old alike, the defining events of this period were the terrorist attacks on New York City's twin towers on September 11, 2001 and Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. Two members of the church family, Michelle Kerr and Brian Dec, were among the thousands of service members sent to Iraq and Afghanistan after 9-11. A core group of tireless members, including Lois Harmon, Doug Johnson and Frank Kilby, continued to sustain the church through major building work, the Properties Committee and work days. Vi Foster, Vera MacKeen, Muriel Erickson and Gladys Gray also are honored on this panel for their generous and wide-ranging work for the church, including membership in the Lois Rushforth Women's Circle. Church historian Clayton Maine another dedicated member who chronicled and photographed church activities, passed away in 2005 at age 81. The new technologies became a dominant part of life in these years, and Central, which celebrated its bicentennial in 1990, launched its own website, www.centralbaptisthtfd.org.
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