The First Baptist Church of Trenton recently celebrated its 60th anniversary at a gala affair at Crystal Gardens.
Sixty years ago, the Lions were world champions, gas was 29 cents a gallon and a new home in Trenton cost $15,000, so a lot has changed during that time. However, the church’s mission of sharing the love of Christ with the world is still the same, Pastor James W. Jones said.
The event included a celebration of the church’s history and the 60th wedding anniversary of Pastor Jones and his wife, Kay.
Special guests and speakers included the Baptist State Convention of Michigan staff members Dr. Tim Paterson, executive director; Dr. Tony Lynn, missions director; and Rev. Mike Durbin, director of evangelism.
Other guests included Rev. Nathaniel Bishop, former director of missions in Detroit Association; Phillip Rogers, pastor of Legacy Church in Riverview, where his father was first pastor when First Baptist sponsored them in 1965; Rick Sparks, Pastor of Woodhaven Baptist Church, which was sponsored by First Baptist in 1991; Ely Sagansay, Pastor of a Filipino church that met in First Baptist Church for nearly 10 years; and Pastor Gary MacManamy, former Director of Evangelism for the State Convention.
Many former members from across Michigan and the country were present. Chris Whitaker, the son of Swann and Georgia, one of the three couples who started the church in 1957, was in attendance. Other guests included J.C. Bibee and his wife Lillian, former members from Tennessee. The couple joined their son Larry and his wife, Kim, their grandson, Larry, and his wife, Becky, and their great grandchildren, Madelyn and Noah, who are all active in church. To have four generations celebrating together was special.
David Jones, the worship leader for First Baptist, led in worship, also providing special music along with Pam, Ethan and Ashley Jones. Dr. Victor Wong, former worship leader, shared a recorded solo from California. At the close of the service, names of the members who had passed to heaven since the 50th anniversary were read and David Jones played “Amazing Grace” in honor of their memory.
The church’s history was summarized by Pastor James W. Jones, who told of three couples who, in June of 1957, felt the leadership of the Lord to start a Baptist church in Trenton. They sought out the Glen Eden Baptist Church in Taylor to sponsor them, first meeting in a storefront at 332 West Road, between Jefferson and Third Street. After several more moves, their need for space brought them to their current location of 4049 Longmeadow (formerly Foley School).
The first pastor was Dr. Truitt Smith, who served from 1957-58. In their first meeting, they voted to give 15 percent to world missions. Following Dr. Smith was W. B. Oakley, serving from 1958-59, and Pastor James W. Jones who served from 1960 to 1983. Mike Melendez served from 1983 to 1992, and Jeff Jackson served from 1994-96. After being served by interim pastors for three years, Pastor James W. Jones was called to return as pastor, and has served since that time.
The church has maintained a steady commitment to missions over the years, sponsoring new congregations in Rockwood, New Boston, Riverview, Romulus, Dearborn, Woodhaven, Detroit and Southgate. The church is also currently sponsoring a new congregation in Grand Rapids. The church has also been involved in providing lodging for mission teams, who have served in the inner city of Detroit, Dearborn and other communities.
First Baptist Church has sponsored many mission trips abroad. Pastor Jackson lead a group to Jamaica, Pastor Jones spent multiple weeks in crusades in Australia, the Philippines, and Africa, and ministered for two weeks in the Philippines with Associate Pastor Bud Bihl. The church has given a total of $1,212,637 to missions in the United States and around the world.
In 2005, the church, along with the help of the whole community, provided seven apartments for families who fled from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. They also sent food, furniture and finances amounting to over $35,000 to New Orleans, and provided a day care ministry for almost 20 years.
Part of the local ministry of the church is to residents in assisted living. For 10 years they ministered to Marian Manor in Riverview. The church now has a ministry with Kinghaven. They lead a worship service three Sundays a month and provide transportation for those who would like to attend the services.