By Sam Conner
After the war, Winslow faced growing pains and many changes. First Baptist Church had many issues to deal with. With the increased population the city had some odd issues to face. Citizens were asked to turn off all faucets whenever they heard a fire alarm. All the new homes had stretched the distance for the Clear Creek water to go and reduced the pressure in the lines.
In 1950 a Santa Fe official invited Mayor Floyd Whipple to his private car on the Winslow siding and asked if the town would like to buy the water plant from the Santa Fe for $1. The city council approved the deal, then sold bonds to build new water lines and dig wells southwest of town for a more dependable water supply.
The November Christmas parade began in 1946 and became an annual tradition in Winslow.
Sawmill owner Mabel Nagel became the first woman elected to the town council in 1950.
Polio crippled many across the country. The Arizona Liquor Industry bought an iron lung for each of Arizona’s 14 counties to help fight the epidemic. TWA was landing 14 flights a day at Winslow Municipal Airport, which had longer runways than any Phoenix airport at that time.
Winslow had ordinances requiring citizens to spray their garbage cans twice a week with DDT to fight mosquito problems and finally shut down all gambling in town.
The community swimming pool was desegregated in 1954.
Doctors had to keep patients in their homes until the town built the hospital on East Hillview Street, also in 1954.
The First Baptist Church has growing pains, too. They called Rev. R. Felder Cade, a Southern Baptist, to be their pastor in November 1946. Sunday school averaged 200 in 1947 as members bought the Aspinwall Apartments to use as additional Sunday school and Training Union classrooms.
When Rev. Cade resigned in 1948, 26 members withdrew and bought the Bly home on East Cherry Street to start a Southern Baptist church. Sunday school soon averaged 100, and they called Rev. Gerald Hall of Oklahoma to be their pastor. In 1950, Winslow Southern Baptist Church joined other Southern Baptist churches in petitioning to form a new association north of the Salt River and separate from the San Carlos Association.
Rev. Vanderhoff, who had helped First Baptist charter in 1915, served as interim pastor until the church called Rev. David Beal, a Conservative Baptist, in June 1948. Members dedicated their new auditorium adjacent to the three-story church on April 2, 1950, only owing $6,700 of the $35,000 cost.
Rev. Beal was ordained by the First Baptist Church, but resigned to be associate at Tucson First Baptist in February 1951.
After Rev. Beal resigned, members of Winslow Southern contacted deacons at First Baptist Church and a series of prayer meetings led to reconciliation. The Holy Spirit led the two groups to unite with the Southern Baptist Convention. Rev. Hall served the united church for six months and then members voted to ask him to resign. Rev. Harold Baer, a Southern Baptist home missionary to the Navajos north of Flagstaff, asked his friend Roy Matthews to leave Georgia and come to Winslow in 1952.
Rev. Matthews accepted the call to First Baptist Church and God blessed the reunification. Sunday school averaged over 250, so members asked Miss Juanita Holl, a graduate of Hardin Simmons College, to be their first fulltime paid educational director in 1954. First Baptist also hosted the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention that year. Rev. Matthews baptized more than 100 people during his ministry here. Members voted to move the parsonage to East Gilmore and construct an educational building on its site.
Once the war was over the future looked promising for Winslow, but the town began shrinking when the Santa Fe Railroad phased out steam locomotives and replaced them with diesel engines in the 1950s. The railroad opened diesel shops in Barstow, Calif., and closed the Winslow roundhouse. Many families moved to California.
In 1962, train crews were reduced from six men to three. TWA stopped service in Winslow, but Frontier Airlines offered two daily flights. La Posada closed when diners were added to trains. The ice plant was closed and dismantled when refrigerated boxcars came into being. Even more families left Winslow to find work elsewhere.
The United States became more and more involved in trying to stop the spread of communism. The Korean Armistice was signed, but our troops were still stationed in South Korea. U.S. troops joined other NATO forces in Germany and Turkey as the Iron Curtain spread across Eastern Europe. Military advisors were sent to Southeast Asia when the French were defeated and then more U.S. troops were sent to Vietnam.
While membership was reduced at First Baptist Church, members reached out more and more into the community. Several helped teach Sunday school at First Indian Baptist Mission begun in 1952 by Rev. George and Margaret Hook, Southern Baptist home missionaries. First Baptist formed a Mission Committee, and appointed Bill Blankenship, Del Light, Carl Merritt and Charlie Tague. One of the Grand Canyon College student preachers flew several fellow students from Phoenix to Winslow in a private plane each Sunday morning. Then the committee members would drive them to Desert View, Chevelon, Dilcon and Joseph City missions.
The church purchased a house and a lot in the new Desert View subdivision west of town to build a mission. They underwrote a $10,000 loan from the Home Mission Board to build a new Spanish mission church and classrooms on East Donnelly Street in 1958.
The Home Mission Board appointed Rev. Thetford and then Rev. Tamez to pastor the Spanish Mission. After Rev. Matthews, First Baptist Church called Milton E. Scott in October of 1957. He began a weekly newsletter for members called The Challenger, which is now published monthly. O.D. Randall served for three years as the first paid music educational director, and the number of members in the choirs increased and began to include young people and children. Sunday school still averaged over 200 most Sundays.
In November 1964, the church voted to raise $2,500 to help Grand Canyon College. Although the town was growing smaller, First Baptist Church’s heart was growing bigger.
The First Baptist Church of Winslow, located at Aspinwall Avenue and Warren Street, will celebrate its 100th anniversary July 17-19.
During the celebration there will be a building tour at 6 p.m. on Friday, July 17. On Saturday, July 18 there will be registration and tours from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. There will be sharing in the sanctuary beginning at 2 p.m., with a historical slide show and an open microphone for guest sharing and singing. A dinner of hamburgers and hot dogs will be served at 5 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall.
On Sunday, July 19, regular worship services will be held at 8:30 and 11 a.m. with Matt Gaston preaching. The regular Sunday school session will be between those services at 9:45 a.m. Lunch will be served at 12:30 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall, with seating for 240 people. There will be a program in the sanctuary with former pastors sharing and congregational singing at 2 p.m.
The final installment in this history of the church will be published on Friday, July 17.