A History of Church in the Acres
Organized and Incorporated – July 18, 1958
In 1956 some of the members of the First Baptist Church of Springfield were dismissed to form the Church in the Acres (Baptist). Many of the members lived in the 16 Acres area and felt the need of a church here. Early visions included a community outreach, day camp experiences and college-related ministry.
The first Sunday service of the Church in the Acres was held in the Sixteen Acres public School with 27 worshipers attending on December 1, 1957. The school was used as an interim church and Sunday school until September 27, 1959. Rev. Alfred H. Boutwell became interim pastor. Under his leadership the church grew to 117 members, and plans to build a church building developed. On September 27, 1959, the congregation left the Sixteen Acres School and had its first service in the new building.
On March 1, 1959, Rev. Charles L. McEachern became the first permanent minister. By 1965 Church in the Acres had 287 active members and 203 pupils in the Church School. Rev. Wilmer M. Potter was second pastor (1967 - 1971). Active membership grew to 375 by 1969. Over 200 non-members used the building each week. Rev. E. Gage Hotaling was our third pastor (1972 - 1984). This was a period of improving financial structure, increasing activities, outstanding worship services and strong loyalty to the Church.
During the ministry of Rev. David C. O’Brien (1985 - 1998), the Church revived its original dream of continued growth by building a sanctuary. Construction of the $900,000 expansion project was completed in 1992. The approximately 8,000 square foot addition contains a permanent sanctuary, offices, library and other supporting spaces. Rev. Dr. William Hayden served as our Interim Pastor from September 1998 through March 1999, at which time Rev. Harold J. Martin assumed that position until the church voted to call our fifth pastor, Rev. Daniel J. Nicewonger (1999 – 2008). This was a time of expanded ministry and spiritual growth opportunities for Church in the Acres. On January 11, 2004 a second worship service was added, planned and led by a praise and worship team, and on November 8, 2004 Gregory S. Dyson joined our staff as Minister of Christian Education. With the departure of Pastor Nicewonger, the church voted to move Pastor Dyson into the position of Interim Minister on March 2, 2008 and on February 8, 2009, the congregation voted to make Pastor Gregory Dyson the Sixth senior pastor to serve at Church In The Acres.
In 2009 we began to experiment with the creation of a mid week service. God truly blessed that effort and by 2011 the mid week family night service had effectively become one of our most notable times of ministry all week. In 2011 we also began to explore the possibility of expanding our staff by adding part time ministry leaders. Jason Holladay was added added to our contemporary worship team and Shiloh Bradshaw became the Assistant to the Pastor.