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First Baptist Church Marks 70 Years In Los Alamos

on August 10, 2017 - 8:16am

The First Baptist Church of Los Alamos during its early years. FBC-LA turns 70 years old Monday. Courtesy/FBC-LA

First Baptist Church's first permanent home was a former movie theater. Courtesy/FBC-LA 

First Baptist Church of Los Alamos today on Diamond Drive. Courtesy/FBC-LA 


Los Alamos Daily Post 

The First Baptist Church of Los Alamos is celebrating a major milestone. It will turn 70 years old Monday, Aug. 14.

To mark occasion, the church is hosting an anniversary party 3:30-7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 13, at Urban Park. Church staff will provide barbecue and participants are bringing snacks. A variety of games will be played and memories about the church shared. Anyone and everyone is encouraged to take part in the festivities, Associate Pastor Mike Brake said.

The church was founded in 1947 and originally housed in a former movie house, he said. The building was relocated to the plot of land the church now occupies.

“We were one of the first churches in town,” Brake said.

The church started out with 49 charter members. One of those members is Loring Cox, now 98 years old. During an interview this week with the Los Alamos Daily Post, Cox recalled that before purchasing the land and building a permanent home, the church would hold services at different buildings around town. The majority of the time services were held in a school gymnasium, he said. He commended the community for assisting the church, saying, “They did all they could do to help us.”

Cox said he was 28 years old when First Baptist Church was founded. He added the biggest challenge facing the church when it was first organized was finding a place to hold services. There were not a lot of available buildings; in addition, Los Alamos was at that time made up of temporary buildings that were destined to be torn down. “We were young ... willing to work ... and that made a difference,” he said.

Cox speaks very highly of his church and his community; which he has lived in since 1946.

“I’ve lived here most of my working life,” he said. “And it’s been a wonderful place to live ... Los Alamos ... I wouldn’t live anywhere else.”

Cox still attends worship services every Sunday. He added he has a lot of good friends in his church. “The town’s been good to us,” he said.

So what has kept the church thriving and growing all these years? Brake said it is due to the people who work and worship within its walls.

“It’s been the people in the church … they have been like family,” he said.

This is something Brake can personally attest to. He said he arrived in Los Alamos in 2003 to work at the laboratory. He didn’t know a soul in town but Brake said when he first plugged into First Baptist Church he immediately made friends that became like family.

One of the church’s biggest focuses are youth and families. “This church is always invested in the next generation,” Brake said. In fact, Children’s Minister Mike Griego works with infants to sixth graders while Brake works with teens. Brake explained that they feel it is important to work with these age groups because these are the next generation of leaders, teachers, doctors, scientists, etc., and the goal is to pass on hope and wisdom to the new generation.

In addition to Griego and Brake, Keith Williams is serving as the church’s interim pastor. Looking into the future, Brake said they are working on “identifying who we are, who we want to be and what direction we want to go.”

He emphasized that this church loves its community. “This church has a genuine love for the people of Los Alamos, which has been a passion of ours from the beginning. No matter what people are facing in life there is always hope. We exist to love and serve this community and I really believe God wants to do something big in Los Alamos.”

The community is represented in First Baptist Church’s congregation. On average Brake said between 100 and 120 adults attend Sunday services. In addition, the church shares its gymnasium with the community, which hosts a variety of activities.

First Baptist Church also has lent its assistance in starting other churches in surrounding communities. It helped found White Rock Baptist Church, the Baptist Church in Jemez Springs as well as Life Point Church in Santa Fe. Brake explained, “We realized our mission goes beyond Los Alamos.”

On Sundays, First Baptist Church of Los Alamos offers Sunday School at 9 a.m. and worship at 10:30 a.m. Also at 10:30 a.m. Sundays are children’s worship services. Wednesday, the church hosts a dinner starting at 5:30 p.m., open to anyone and everyone, Brake said.

The dinner costs a nominal fee and Brake insists it is the “cheapest and best meal you can get on a Wednesday night.” Starting at 6 p.m. Wednesdays, the church hosts its Awana program for those in kindergarten through sixth grade. There also is a youth group for teens in seventh through 12th grade. Small groups will do home visits for adults throughout the week, too.

Brake added a group of Chinese adults meets Sunday morning to hear services in Mandarin. He emphasized again that all the church’s programs and services go back to the church’s feelings toward its community.

“As we celebrate 70 years of seeing God work through our members by serving the community of Los Alamos, Brake said, we are excited for the​ future knowing the best is yet to come.”

A youth group at First Baptist Church of Los Alamos. The church focuses on young people. Photo courtesy of FBC-LA