ATLANTA, GA (ABNS 7/20/11)—Lower Providence Baptist Church, Eagleville, PA, received the 2011 George D. Younger Award for Excellence in Local American Baptist History from the American Baptist Historical Society for its package of projects marking the congregation’s bicentennial. Rev. Cornelius (Neil) Jones, the church’s historian, accepted the award on behalf of the congregation during the Historical Society’s breakfast on June 23, part of the American Baptist Churches’ Biennial meeting held in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
“The quality of research and planning that went into monthly special events, publications and community outreach was outstanding,” noted this year’s judges. “Participants praised the programs and community leaders commended the church’s efforts.”
With the theme, “Celebrating 200 Years of God’s Faithfulness, 1810-2010,” activities included a new history of the church, authored by Neil Jones, as well as numerous guest speakers and special exhibits that included a bicentennial quilt, displays of artifacts, and a detailed timeline for the past 200 years.
In a letter to the Historical Society, Rev. Robert French Jr., senior minister of LPBC remarked, “In some ways, this is a reward for the members of our congregation who have served Christ faithfully and sacrificially, but there is now for us the challenge to be that ‘worthy’ Baptist witness into the future immediately in front of us.”
Community involvement, an important component of the Younger Award, was encouraged through newspaper stories and special invitations to community leaders; a gospel fest for area choirs and a joint performance of the congregation’s choir and that of a local Korean congregation; a demonstration by Civil War re-enactors invited to the church for a Memorial Day ceremony; research shared with state park staff regarding the location of the congregation’s earliest site; a joint service (and meal) with a Burmese congregation from New Jersey, the nucleus of which had been assisted in their resettlement in this country by the Lower Providence congregation.
The histories, bulletins, photographs and DVDs submitted documented the initiatives through the year and the special events featured for each month in 2010. As one judge noted, “The combination events presented a unique package….worthy of the George Younger Award.”
George D. Younger Award for Excellence in Local or Regional American Baptist History
George D. Younger (1926-2001) was a historian, minister, ecumenical leader, and lifelong enthusiast for Baptist history. Along with his parish and regional ministry in New York City and New Jersey, he served as editor-in-chief of the ABHS journal, Foundations (predecessor to the American Baptist Quarterly), represented the Baptist World Alliance at the United Nations, and taught Baptist history and polity at Princeton Theological Seminary, New Brunswick Theological Seminary, Drew Theological School, and Union Theological Seminary.
Dr. Younger stressed the importance of Baptist history and principles. Seeking to honor his achievement and to continue his legacy of encouraging others to share their own part in Baptist history, the Historical Society’s Board of Managers created the George D. Younger Award in 2004.
Projects eligible for nomination include but are not restricted to church anniversary celebrations, congregational or regional histories, oral history projects, or other historical programs that promote Baptist history in the local community or region. The judges especially look for evidence of the impact on the targeted audience, with special consideration given for those projects with outreach beyond the immediate Baptist community.
The next Younger Award will be announced during the 2013 Biennial Convention in Overland Park, Kansas. Deadline for submission is April 1, 2013, and guidelines for nominees are available from the Historical Society by phone 678-547-6680, or on their website at www.abhsarchives.org.
Founded in 1853, the American Baptist Historical Society cares for the largest and most diverse collection of Baptist materials in the world and publishes the oldest Baptist historical journal, the American Baptist Quarterly. Researchers come from around the globe to research the contributions Baptists have made to church and society.
American Baptist Churches is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with 5,500 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.