Journey Church on the Commons was formerly known as Central Baptist Church.
From humble beginnings in 1847, Central Baptist Church was founded by 35 men and women from First Baptist Church of Lowell and First Baptist Church of South Chelmsford, with the shared vision of creating a house of worship more accessible to people living near the center of town. Thus, the vision from the beginning was to “Serve God and Community”.
Not much is known about the early years of the church, but evidence indicates that the church prospered and grew in numbers, for in 1868 a major building project was undertaken which resulted in the present sanctuary building that is still in use today.
As the community of Chelmsford grew, so did Central Baptist Church. One must assume that when main line denominational churches were at their peak vitality in the 1950’s and 1960’s, Central Baptist Church was no exception. During this time, another major building project was undertaken which resulted in the gym, classroom, and kitchen facilities next door known as Littorin Hall.
If you ask members of the church today what is special about Central Baptist, you will likely get responses that we are friendly, loving, and a supportive church family. Probably the strongest theme that would emerge is that we care for each other as if we are all members of one family.
As denominational churches began to decline from their peak, Central Baptist was no exception. There are many reasons one could name, probably prime among them being that as times changed with both parents working, the advent of many competing activities on Sunday, and a generally more hectic life style, our church along with many others was slow to react. Maybe we became too comfortable with our programs and way of worship. The end result, like that of many other denominational churches, was an aging, declining membership.
With diminished financial and human resources, we became very tactical and inward focused, often worrying more about how to pay the bills than how to spread God’s love. In a nutshell, we lost sight of our vision. Through it all, however, we have remained a loving church family.
As we enter the 21st century, we have finally come to the realization that we need to refocus and develop a new mission and vision directed more actively at engaging the community around us.
With a renewed energy, we need to become more outward focused, and channel our current loving church family atmosphere into effectively bringing people who currently have little to no faith connection into a personal relationship with Christ. Simultaneously, we need to develop and strengthen commitments to discipleship.
If we are successful, we will have come full circle, and once again be effectively serving God and Community right here in the center of Chelmsford.