VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 7/1/15)—The Baptist Church in Warren, Rhode Island, has received the 2015 George D. Younger Award for Excellence in Local American Baptist History from the American Baptist Historical Society for the year-long celebration of their 250th anniversary. Pastor of the church, Rev. Esther Irish, received the award at the Biennial Mission Summit in Overland Park on June 28.
The church was founded in 1764 and has occupied the same piece of property all that time. “The British did burn down the church during the war,” said Rick Irish, who helped to coordinate the celebration with his wife, Esther, who has been the pastor at the church for the past nine years. “It was rebuilt at the exact spot,” Irish added.
Public events, shown in a display at the Biennial Mission Summit, included a float in the July 4th parade, a grave rubbing and photo session, an authentic Colonial breakfast and musical programs. The church also worked with historian J. Stanley Lemons to publish a short history of their congregation. The church has several connections to US history including the bell in the church tower being made by Paul Revere and the founding of Brown University and its first graduation ceremony (as Rhode Island College) being held at the church.
The Younger award is presented each Biennial to a church that demonstrated excellence in local or regional American Baptist history through outreach to the community. It is named in honor of George D. Younger (1926-2001), 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.
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 USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with over 5,200 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.