Northwest Baptist Caps 50th Anniversary Celebration with News About New Pastor

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GAINESVILLE–As Northwest Baptist Church recently celebrated its 50th anniversary looking back over five decades of accomplishments and milestones, members were also treated to the good news that a candidate was coming to preach in view of a call as their new pastor.

For a church that has been without a full-time pastor for almost three years, the news from its pastoral search committee was like the icing on this cake of a celebration service.

“It was wonderful news to hear,” said interim pastor Elbert Nasworthy, noting that Bruce Wilson came several weeks later and was voted in as its new lead pastor. “It’s an exciting time for this church to have a pastor full time and to see where God is leading them. We’re very excited for them.”

The celebration service was held Sunday, Oct. 8, marking the anniversary of the first date congregants had met as a church. Northwest Baptist Church had started as a mission or church plant from North Central Baptist Church, also in Gainesville, in 1973. A family from North Central Baptist donated the property to the church, which donated it for use by Northwest.

At the time, the area showed more than 500 families within a certain radius of the new location, which was a benchmark for the starting of a new church back then, said Nasworthy. It was built on property next to Buchholz High School, the largest public high school in Gainesville.

Joanne Parham, wife of the late Robert Parham, the church’s first pastor, was one of the guest speakers during the anniversary service, sharing about the early years of the church. Former pastor Ken Westbrook shared memories about the construction of the church’s worship center, where members were invited to come and write Bible verses and inspirational messages on the floor before carpet was laid.

Guest preacher for this special service was Gary Townsend, who recently retired as North region catalyst for the Florida Baptist Convention. Other guests included former interim pastors Ed Johnson and Jimmy Deas.

“Each one of them had different responsibilities, but they also had opportunities to share various things,” said Nasworthy. “We also recognized a few charter members and other guests. We made certain we were giving honor to whom honor was due.”

The day’s events also included a catered lunch and time to visit the church library, where guests could see a large display of photos, documents and other records regarding the church’s history.

Nasworthy, who had been interim pastor for the past 20 months, said his last Sunday was Nov. 26, with Wilson starting in the office on Nov. 27 and preaching his first sermon as pastor on Dec. 3.

“When you’re doing an interim like we do, especially one this long, you build relationships, but you also build an understanding of that group of people, and you really get to know their hearts,” he said. “For us it’s bittersweet. We’ve come to love them and know them, and we’re going to miss them. For them as a church and for us as a couple in this ministry God has given us, the time has come to say goodbye.”

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