Posts Tagged ‘Monument Avenue’

Photos by Susan Brown.

Less than ideal weather was not a game stopper for Richmond’s annual Easter Parade. Since 2009 Candi Brown, FBC’s Minister to Children, has organized and led activities for kids and parents – puppet shows, music, yard games, and games with prizes such as necklaces, Easter books, candy, hats, and pinwheels. Easter 2013’s rain kept the scale smaller, but the fun was just as big.

Monument Avenue Easter on Paradeeaster-pinwheelseaster-wheelgameeaster-bubbleeaster-tosseaster-toss2easter-toss3easter-peggameeaster-bubble2easter-hoopgame Monument Avenue Easter on Parade

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Story & photo by Jeannie Dortch.

FBC illustration

Early rendering of the new church building on Monument Avenue

In 1919, First Baptist Church had been holding services at the 12th and Broad Street location for 87 years. With almost as many people attending Sunday school as attended worship services, the deacon council began to discuss the possibility of expanding the building by purchasing property that was for sale in the next block. At that time, a growing percentage of members were moving to the “far west end of the city,” and the merits of moving or staying in the same area became a sticking point in the discussion.

In 1920, W. S. Forbes, a self-made and successful businessman, and one of the wealthier members of the congregation, brought an interesting proposal before the deacon body. A devoted Christian, Forbes believed the church of Christ achieved more good than any other active organization. His dream was to see the membership of FBC attend services on the South’s historic Monument Avenue.

As a tribute to his deceased wife and mother, both devoted members of FBC, he offered the church the gift of a city block that faced Monument Avenue and was valued at $150,000. If agreed upon, Forbes would subsequently pledge $350,000 towards the building of an edifice that would glorify the Lord and provide adequate space for FBC’s burgeoning congregation.

W. S. Forbes plaque located in the Sanctuary narthex.

The minutes recorded that only seven people out of a membership of 1,718 voted against the recommendation. With the title to this property cleared all the way back to its conveyance on March 15, 1675, to William Byrd I by the English crown, the church was ready to move.

During the next seven years, however, Mr. Forbes fell on hard times and was unable to make good on his promise to pay for the building. Fortunately, by May 1927, enough money had been raised through congregational pledges to begin construction the following month. A year and a half later, on December 10, 1928, Forbes joined other members and guests for the first celebration of worship in the new building. With standing room only for both the morning and evening services, First Baptist Church at Monument and The Boulevard was ready for the growth of Forbes’ dream.

Jeannie Dortch

Jeannie Dortch joined FBC in 1974 after being lovingly mentored by the members of Buddy Hamilton’s Sunday school class. A grandmother of four, Jeannie has served as a deacon, taught in our children’s, youth, international, and adult Sunday school departments, but attends the Journey class presently. Recently retired from 16 years of teaching at Rudlin Torah Academy, Jeannie enjoys exercising, cooking, reading, tutoring New American students at Maybeury Elementary, and writing articles for FTF.

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