First Baptist Church of Salina, Kan., Receives 2019 George D. Younger Award

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First Baptist Church of Salina, Kan., Receives 2019 George D. Younger Award

VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 7/8/19)—First Baptist Church, Salina, Kan., received the 2019 George D. Younger Award for Excellence in Local or Regional American Baptist History from the American Baptist Historical Society.  Rev. Dr. Kevin Hazelton, the church’s pastor, accepted the award on behalf of the congregation during the Historical Society’s breakfast on June 23, part of the American Baptist Churches’ Biennial Mission Summit held in Virginia Beach, Va. Mr. Dana R. Younger, one of George and Dodie Younger’s sons, made the presentation.

The Award was given in commendation of First Baptist Church’s year-long celebration of their sesquicentennial.  The weekend of June 2-3, 2018, was the high point, with the opening of a time capsule; presentations during the anniversary worship service were made by the mayor of Salina, the interim executive minister of the American Baptist Churches of the Central Region, and the American Baptist Churches USA general secretary.  General Secretary Rev. Dr. Lee Spitzer preached the anniversary sermon.

In addition to planning monthly events related to their anniversary, the church included informational bits in Sunday bulletins and designed a logo that was used throughout the yearlong celebration.  Through the anniversary events they connected with the community in many diverse ways (an automobile show, ecumenical music concert, children’s events) and increased their involvement with and giving to ongoing ministries.  Church members wore T-shirts bearing the anniversary logo at every anniversary function; Rev. Hazelton wore his T-shirt when accepting the Younger Award.

The example of Salina First Baptist Church serves as an encouragement, inspiration, and model to other congregations planning a celebration of ministry in their community.


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 Historical Society’s 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.  He and his wife, Rev. Dr. Dodie Younger, were strong supporters of the American Baptist Historical Society.

Dr. George 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.

The next Younger Award will be announced during the 2021 Biennial Mission Summit in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Projects eligible for nomination must reach completion in 2019 or 2020 and 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.  Deadline for submission is April 1, 2021, and guidelines for nominees are available from the Historical Society website:

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 approximately 5,000 congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.