VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 6/2/21)—First Baptist Church of Trumansburg, Trumansburg, N.Y., has been selected as the winner of the 2021 George D. Younger Award for Excellence in Local or Regional American Baptist History. This award is given by the American Baptist Historical Society each biennium, and will be presented during the ABHS Biennial Mission Summit online event on Friday, June 25, at 1pm EDT/10am PDT. Rev. Dennis Christiansen serves as pastor of FBC, Trumansburg.
The Award is presented in commendation of First Baptist Church’s celebration of their bicentennial. The weekend of September 21-22, 2019, was the high point, with the opening of a time capsule, an open house for the community at the Ulysses Historical Society, dinner and a Gaither Homecoming-style celebration of music, and a special worship service. Presentations during the open house at the local historical society were made by Rordan Hart, mayor of Trumansburg, and Dr. C. Jeff Woods, then-Associate General Secretary for ABCUSA, who also preached at the Sunday worship service. Other dignitaries bringing greetings included Karen M. Podsiadly, current president of ABCUSA, Dr. James Kelsey, Executive Minister of ABC of New York State, and Kris Lutton of the American Baptist Foundation.
In addition to distributing monthly prayer emphases related to their anniversary, the anniversary committee updated the church’s history that had been compiled for the 175th anniversary in 1994. With a theme of “Shining the Light of Christ: 200 Years and Beyond,” LED lights were distributed and shined during the musical celebration. They shared their history with the community in a variety of ways: a copy of the church history and a DVD with photos from both early history and recent years were given to the local historical society, local businesses contributed food for the community reception, and the church’s float won 3rd prize in the annual Firemen’s Parade.
The example of First Baptist Church of Trumansburg serves as an encouragement, inspiration, and model to other congregations planning a celebration of ministry in their community.
George D. Younger Award
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 presented during the 2023 Biennial Mission Summit in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Projects eligible for nomination must reach completion in 2021 or 2022 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, 2023, and guidelines for nominees are available from the Historical Society website: 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 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.