Third of a four-part series, part I part II part III part IV
After the first Pastor of Bible Center resigned in October of 1958, pulpit duties were primarily the responsibility of a long time friend of the church, Dr. Lester E. Pipkin. Dr. Pipkin was the founder and President of Appalachian Bible Institute in Bradley, WV.
In June of 1961, Rev. Charles E. Hendricks became the second pastor of the City Bible Center (now known as the Bible Center Church). He was saved through the ministry of the church during special meetings with Dr. Harry A. Ironside while the services were still being held at 419 Broad Street. Mr. Hendricks and Mildred Henderson were married and he attended and graduated from Tennessee Temple Bible School and Marietta College. His first church was the founding of a church in Marietta, Ohio, which was called Marietta Bible Center. The church prospered, and it was no easy decision when he received a call to the Bible Center Church. God blessed the Bible Center under his able direction. In the fall of 1967, Mr. Hendricks received a call from the Perry Hall Baptist Church in Baltimore, Maryland. His farewell message was delivered on February 11, 1968. A written statement by Pastor Hendricks included these words to the congregation he was leaving:
"It would be impractical to list the many past and presently contributing to the ministry. Mr. R.M. Maxwell and Rev. A. Reid Jepson shepherded this work before me. Now the pastoral responsibility will pass to another. In the interim be very faithful in your attendance, giving and prayers. ... Great things lie ahead, reach forth to them expectantly, trusting all the while in the One who said: 'faithful is He that calleth you will also do it.'"
After Pastor Hendricks' resignation the pulpit of Bible Center Church was filled by many servants of God including again, Dr. Pipkin. A number of others from Appalachian Bible Institute also ministered the word during this period, including: Dr. Joseph Pinter, Rev. Mel Sequine, Rev. Cary Perdue, Rev. Bill Hanmer and Rev. Earl Parvin.
On September 29, 1968, Bible Center Church welcomed its third pastor. Pastor Robert K. Spradling, his wife Gertrude and daughters Cynthia and Cheryl moved to West Virginia from a pastorate at First Baptist Church of Northville, Michigan. It might be better to say "moved back" to West Virginia as he grew up in Kanawha County, and he and Gertrude are both graduates of St. Albans High School. Pastor Spradling's education included Southland Bible Institute, Piedmont Bible College, Bob Jones University Graduate School and Grace Theological Seminary.
During 28 years of ministry, Pastor Spradling led through his example, vision and preaching of the Word of God. During this time the radio broadcast was shifted from a studio production to a live broadcast of the morning service, which continues to the present. As the congregation grew, the location on Kanawha Boulevard reached its capacity. Additional adjoining property was purchased, but still facilities were inadequate for the growing congregation. Approximately 8.5 acres of land were found on Rt. 14 south (now the location of corridor G - Rt. 119) and was purchased in 1973. During this time Pastor George Darlington was called to serve as Associate Pastor, a position he held until his retirement in 1993.
In addition to the property, the master plan called for the construction of a building at a total cost of approximately $1.4 million. Ground was broken on November 10, 1974, at a special service featuring Dr. Lehman Stauss as guest speaker. The dedication for the building was held May 2, 1976, with Dr. Howard Sugden as featured speaker. The new facilities enabled an expansion of existing ministries and allowed for the opening of a Christian Day Care program in 1977.
A second phase of expansion was the addition of the family center which included 6 classrooms a half-gym and new foyer space. This addition was dedicated on July 5, 1981, with notable guest U.S. Senator Jennings Randolph. These new facilities allowed Bible Center Church to open Bible Center Christian School in 1981.
The work of Bible Center Church continued to prosper under the leadership of Pastor Spradling. The blessing of God led to the need to add a second morning worship service in 1990. Pastor Spradling announced his retirement in 1994 and now serves as a consultant to churches seeking to grow through Church Development Services.
On April 6, 2003, Pastor Spradling was a speaker at special 60th anniversary services at Bible Center. As part of his message he stated: "When R.M. Maxwell gathered a group of believers together to teach them God's Word, many people in Charleston laughed at this little group. They aren't laughing now."
Part IV >>
© 2002 Bible Center Church
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