Claps of thunder rang out alongside voices of song in western Bradford County on Sunday as individuals gathered to commemorate 200 years of Springfield Baptist Church’s existence.
The congregation, which was founded in 1820 out of a church in Smithfield, welcomed the community for an ice cream social and hymn sing in celebration of God’s faithfulness.
“For 200 years God has faithfully ministered to us and through us, He’s changed and transformed lives here, unbelievers have heard the Gospel and they have responded in faith and accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, believers in Christ have grown and matured in their faith ... He’s comforted and encouraged those who are hurting ... He’s met the needs of His people, those who are in need, He has used us as a bright and shining light here,” stated Reverend Dan Graham.
“As our God has been faithful to us, as His church and as His children may we be found faithful as well,” he continued. “May God’s faithfulness continue to be celebrated until the Lord Jesus Christ returns to take us home.”
As rain poured against a large outdoor tent the event was held in, attendees chose hymns to sing, heard from former pastors, read letters from former members of the church and current missionaries, examined a display table that held mementoes, a photo album and a history of the church and received a citation from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
“The members of the Springfield Baptist Church have enjoyed a long history of service to God and their fellow citizens,” the citation, sponsored by state Representative Clint Owlett (R-68) read. “The church has been blessed with ministers and lay people prescribed to live in a manner that gives testimony to their spiritual beliefs. Their faith, determination, generosity and stewardship have enabled the church to become a vital and inspiring presence in their community.”
Former Springfield Baptist Church Pastor Jim Crupi, who now leads a church in Elmira, New York, spoke about the great love he felt from the Springfield congregation as he began his ministry career preaching there as a young man.
“I was amazed at the great kindness and patience of the people here at Springfield ... but most of all I experienced a great sense of love. Love for God, love for people here at Springfield,” he commented, adding encouragement that “(God) is able, He is able to bring you through.”
Graham echoed Crupi’s sentiments, sharing about his own beginnings as a pastor who began preaching at Smithfield soon after graduating from seminary.
Graham told of how he and his wife immediately noticed the friendliness of the congregation and the great care they held for God and each other — a characteristic he continues to admire in the group today.
“People here truly love one another and they truly care about one another ... when you people sing you got power and I know where it comes from, it’s because of your love for the Lord and when you worship, you worship Him,” he said.
Graham also directed the congregation to look to the future and stated that his hope is that in after another 200 years, members of the Springfield Baptist Church will still be thriving, praising God for His faithfulness and that of the members that have gone before them.