SALEM, Ore.—Bethany Baptist Church celebrated two milestones: the church’s 50th anniversary and Pastor Tim Baker’s 25th year of ministry at the church.
The celebration began on Oct. 5 with a concert by recording artist J. J. Heller. An extended worship service took place the next day. In attendance were special guests Dave Lunsford, executive director of the Baptist Network Northwest, and Dr. Sheldon Nord, president of Corban University.
Corban University, Tim’s alma mater, was instrumental in starting Bethany Baptist. The church was founded by Bethany Baptist Church in Pleasant Hill, California, when Corban University (then called Western Baptist Bible College) relocated from El Cerrito, California, to Salem, Oregon. Desiring “to see new GARBC churches started in the area for both the students and staff,” Corban University helped start Bethany Baptist in Salem, the church says. “The church in its initial years grew rapidly mainly from the participation of students, faculty, and staff of Western Baptist College.”
During its anniversary service, Bethany Baptist “expressed gratitude for God’s work in Bethany’s past while looking ahead to how the church can continue to honor Him in the years to come,” Tim says.
Tim challenged the church to continue honoring God by sharing the gospel. To solidify that challenge, he introduced the church to a new theme for the coming year: evangelism. That new theme will encourage and equip the church’s members to share the gospel with others, pray for their salvation, and invite them to church.
During the service, the congregation also welcomed seven new members and sang songs in both English and Spanish with members of the church’s Spanish-language congregation. Bethany Baptist launched the Spanish-language congregation on Easter Sunday 2017. The two groups meet simultaneously each Sunday but gather for a joint Communion service monthly. “It is a joy to be part of a growing multiethnic ministry,” Tim says.
Tim has ministered at Bethany Baptist Church since 1994. He initially served as youth pastor and then accepted the position of interim pastor in 1998.
The interim pastorate “was a tough role for me to see myself really wanting to go into,” he says. “I loved teenagers, and in many ways I think I could still be working with teenagers today and be very happy. And yet God had really knit this church family to our hearts—my wife’s and my hearts—in the years we had been here.”
Bethany Baptist ordained Tim in January 1999 and called him as senior pastor the next month. The church honored him and his wife, Marcy, for their 25 years of service on Aug. 4. In a video highlighting the church’s history, Bethany Baptist says that “Pastor Tim, as he is affectionately called, has led the church in a time of refreshment and growth.”
The church viewed that video and several others during a banquet Oct. 6. Participants shared testimonies of how God has worked in the church, and the banquet closed with Communion. “A sense of gratitude to God was shared as we reflected on the blessing of being part of the Bethany family and count it a privilege to call it home,” Baker says.
One member of Bethany Baptist says, “We are just completely and utterly so blessed to be a part of Bethany. Never in a million years did I think that, that day we first visited eight years ago, that Bethany would become our family. Plain and simple, we’re thankful.”