A Historical Sketch of Boulevard Baptist Church
Pastor Douglas R. Shivers
On July 15, 1911 a group of Baptists agreed to sponsor a tent revival meeting at the corner of Springfield Avenue and Commerical Street. On August 14, 1911 these believers met in the tent after the revival meeting and organized as Seventh Baptist Church and became a cooperating church with Greene County Baptist Association.
E.T. Sloan was elected the first pastor on September 24, 1911. The church first met in the second story of a building at the corner of Commercial and National. In January 1913 the church moved to Kohler’s Hall at the corner of Dale and National Boulevard where services were held until the first church building was erected at the corner of Blaine and National in 1914.
Though the Southern Baptist Convention Cooperative Program was begun in 1925, records show the church was raising funds for local, state and international missions as early as December 1911. In 1921, Mrs. T.F. Simmons organized the first Women’s Missionary Union.
In 1924 the Seventh Baptist Church became National Boulevard Baptist Church. This remains the legal name of the church though over time and usage the name was shortened to Boulevard Baptist Church.
In 1947 a new enlarged front was added to the church and later classrooms were added to the back of that building. In 1959 the church voted to build a new auditorium. The first services were held in that building on Easter Sunday 1960. In 1975 the church constructed a new educational wing on the south side of the auditorium. W. L. Murdaugh was pastor during this time of growth.
For some time the possibility of moving to a more advantageous location had been considered. On March 18, 1998, representatives of Boulevard Baptist Church, Washington Avenue Baptist Church and Drury University met to discuss the possible sale of Boulevard’s property. Drury University had plans for a new science center, which they hoped to build on the south end of their campus by purchasing Washington Avenue Baptist Church’s property. Washington Avenue Baptist Church wanted to stay in the immediate area and had looked at other existing buildings. The meeting on March 18 came after some preliminary conversations of all three parties in late 1997 and early 1998.
After months of prayer and discussion the church voted on January 13, 1999 to relocate. In a specially called business meeting, Sunday, May 23, 1999, the church voted to accept an offer from Drury University for the property, purchase property on Eastgate Avenue, and build a new church building on that site.
On Friday, January 28, 2000, a contract was signed for the Eastgate property. Building plans were submitted to the church by Hood-Rich Architects, Inc. Drury University offered an additional financial incentive to move early and make use of Drury’s facilities until the building was finished. On March 12, 2000, the church overwhelmingly approved the building plans and Drury’s offer.
Sunday, October 1, 2000 the last services were held at 1722 North National. The church offices were moved to Congregational Hall at Drury University and Wednesday evening services were held there. Sunday services were held in the Student Center Ballroom.
The first services at the new location, 1030 South Eastgate, were held Easter Sunday, April 15, 2001.
A recent history of Boulevard Baptist Church
For some time, Boulevard Baptist Church, had considered the need to relocate from our inner-city location at 1722 N National, to a more advantageous site. Membership in that area had gradually declined and our members were scattered all around the city. March 18, 1998, discussions began with Drury University about the possibility of their purchasing our property for the relocation of Washington Avenue Baptist Church, which was adjacent to Drury’s property. After a search, a 12 acre site belonging to the Council of Churches was found on Eastgate Avenue for $175,000.
On January 13, 1999 Boulevard by faith voted to relocate and May 23, 1999 subsequently accepted Drury’s offer of $720,000 and a 6% loan on the forthcoming building debt. A groundbreaking service was held on April 2, 2000 and construction began in June of 2000 on the $1.3 million dollar phase I project. Drury subsequently offered us $75,000 to move out early and provided us the use of their facilities until construction was complete. Boulevard celebrated her last Sunday at 1722 N National on October 1st, 2000 and worshipped on the Drury campus in the Findley Student Center and Congregational Hall until her first service in the new building, Easter Sunday, April 15, 2001. A building dedication and 90th anniversary celebration was held August 19, 2001.
In the fall of 2002, 50 additional parking spaces were added. A second morning worship service was added February 9, 2003. The Lord has blessed us since our move with approximately 100 additional members.
To God be the Glory for His faithfulness to His people!