Faith Missionary Baptist Church near St. Albans celebrating 50 years
In 1967, members of a newly formed church started meeting in an abandoned appliance store.
Fifty years later, Faith Missionary Baptist Church at 701 MacCorkle Ave., W., St. Albans, is out of the appliance store and still going strong, said Pastor Mike Hager, who has been the pastor at Faith Missionary Baptist for 11 years.
“The first service was June 4, 1967,” Hager said. “The 50th anniversary rolled around on the same date, June 4, 2017.”
On the Sunday marking the anniversary, the church had a special worship service that featured guest speaker Pastor Rob Vernon, who attended Faith Missionary Baptist in his youth and who is now the pastor at Lighthouse Baptist Church in Vincent, Ohio. The Gospel Heralds, a music group from Appalachian Bible College, also performed.
Hager said that Vernon, who lost a leg in an airplane crash about 20 years ago, gave compelling testimony.
“He was a student pilot and wanted to be a fighter pilot,” Hager said. “He has tremendous testimony; he knew God was calling him to preach.”
Growing up, Vernon had a close association with Faith Missionary Baptist Church.
“When he was born, his parents were attending here. He knew that when he was going here as a kid that God was calling him to preach.”
A number of visitors came in for the church’s 50th anniversary observance, including some children of the late Pastor John Hoskins, who was Faith Missionary Baptist’s first pastor.
“Two of his three children were here: Steve and David,” Hager said.
Faith Missionary Baptist averages about 50 members.
“It’s been up and down through the years.”
Hager said Faith Missionary Baptist was organized in 1967 by “a group of about 20 people that were interested in getting people saved.” At the time, they were at another church that had other priorities. They wanted a church that really had a focus of bringing people to Christ.”
According to a history of the church, the founding members met in “an old, abandoned appliance store” next door to the current church, which was constructed in 1971. The original building still stands next to the church and has since been renamed the Dillard Kirk Building.
Hoskins, a graduate of Tennessee Temple in Chattanooga, Tennessee, became the church’s first pastor. A portrait of Hoskins and his wife, Rita, hangs in the church foyer.
In a move to provide Christian education, in 1971, the church started Faith Christian School as an outreach ministry to the community. It started by offering kindergarten classes, but then grew to include kindergarten through 12th grade. With the growth of other Christian schools in the area, Faith Christian School eventually closed its doors.
Hager said the church believes in the importance of missionary work. In fact, Faith Missionary Baptist Church helps to support about 20 missionaries all over the world. It also helps to support Bob Jones University and Appalachian Bible College.
“We also support the Union Mission,” he said.
Faith Missionary Baptist offers Sunday school at 9:45 a.m. and worship service at 11 a.m. and an evening service at 6 p.m. On Wednesday nights during the school year, the church, using its vans, brings youth from the community into the church for its AWANA Bible program. AWANA means “Approved Workers Are Not Ashamed.”
“That’s an international program,” Hager said.
During the summer months, youth still come to the church on Wednesday evenings for an event called the Joy Club.
Hager, 63, grew up in Kanawha City, but attended church in St. Albans at the former Highlawn Community Chapel, which was on Walnut Street. After graduating from Charleston High School, he went to Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina, where he met his wife, Jeanne.
“I met my wife there and got called to preach there. I actually started out as a music major, but God called me to preach,” he said.
He urges newcomers to visit the church for services.
“One of the great assets of this church is its friendliness. People have a real love and concern for one another.”
For more information about Faith Missionary Baptist Church, call 304-727-9491 or visit www.fmbc.wv.org.