First Baptist Church of Nipomo
Friday, July 21, 2017

Notes of a Beginning

Notes of a Beginning by Lola Finley (Mrs. Lee Finley, wife of first pastor).  April 10, 1966
 
Here are a few of the events that led up to the organization of the First Baptist Church of Nipomo.
 
On New Year's Eve night in 1961 a group of people gathered at the home of James and Rose Berryhill in Nipomo for a watchnight service.  We had the usual good time of fellowship and refreshments, then a devotional and prayer service to welcome in the New Year.  The prayer of all present at that time was for a Baptist Church in Nipomo.
 
Our first meeting was the second Sunday in January again in the home of the Berryhills for Sunday School and worship service.  There we crowded into the living room, kitchen, and since the piano was in the garage we used that too.  Our song leader stood in the kitchen door in order to signal the pianist and we sang around the corners.  He announced the title of the song and we found our own number since we had as many different kinds of hymnals as we had people.  We met two Sundays in this home praying desperately for a building.  We had been turned down on renting the only building available since it was being considered for a second-hand store.
 
One night about ten o'clock, we were startled by a knock on the door.  It was the owner of the building which we had tried to rent.  With the help of his daughter to interpret, he let us know that we could have the building.  Although the other party had offered to pay more, he wanted us to have it.
 
The next Saturday was clean-up day.  The building was filled with debris, the walls were multicolored, and the lights were nearly all out.
 
The next day we brought our kitchen chairs, with as many extras as we couold spare to seat the congregation.  A television set with the front doors closed was our pulpit.  We continued to use our variety song books for a number of services.  During those days no one had to be asked to work, there was so much to be done and so much zeal among the people, we were constantly finding new prospects.  We were having people saved at every service.  We found out that "Amazing Grace" sounded just as good whether we sang it from the Precious Hymns or the Baptist Hymnal.  The Gospel was just as inspiring from our PHILCO pulpit as it would have been from a Cathedral stand.  First Southern Baptist Church of Grover City adopted us and offered their baptistry.
 
We had many children attend from the migrant cabins nearby.  One Sunday morning during the sermon I saw a little boy get down on the floor on his hands and knees in pursuit of an ant crawling on the floor.  He went under the chair in front of him and would, no doubt, have made his way to the pulpit if someone had not caught him.  I guess we'll never know how much of the Gospel message he heard that day, but we do know that he was in God's house on the Lord's Day.
 
On another occasion I was sitting on the row with five children, some of them first timers.  My mission was to keep them as still and as quiet as possible during the sermon.  A four-year-old next to me kept twisting and moving about.  In spite of all I could do it seemed she was going to interrupt the service.  Finally she said, "I'm hungry, I didn't have no breaktus."  It was not hard to see that she had dressed herself and come to church.
 
We had so many nursery age children from the beginning that something had to be done.  Melba and Wayne Simmons offered their small trailer house and for a time that became the Beginner and Nursery Department.  Many times we had so many kids in that little trailer you could see it rock on its wheels.
 
We used cars and the shade of trees for classrooms and finally a landlord let us use one of his rent houses ordinarily used for migrant workers.  This became the Primary and Junior Departments.  It had no complete doors and most of the windows were out.  It was not uncommon for us to lose a pupil or two because he had skinned out a window and gone home.
 
The neighbor's couldn't miss hearing our "Do, Lord, O Do, Lord, O Do Remember", and "Everybody Ought to Know" (their favorite) and "Jesus Loves Me" for there was little barrier to the whole outdoors.  As the days grew colder we had to move out of our little house and back into a corner of the main building.
 
It was a happy day when, after a little less than nine months after organization of the church, we were able to move into our own building.  But we shall always look back with fond memories upon the little building on the corner of Oak and Short Streets (Glory Road now) and thank God for the many souls who were led to accept Christ as Saviour and Lord.