Home > About Dyer Baptist > Our History Last update: Tuesday, January 10, 2012 8:04 PM
Dyer Baptist Church of Dyer Indiana
735 213th Street Dyer, Indiana 46311 (219) 865-2910 Senior Pastor David M. Atkinson
Ministries Missions Plum Creek
Christian Academy
& Preschool
Our History
The Early Years (1956 - 1961)
The history of the beginning and growth of Dyer Baptist Church is one of the faithfulness of God, the consecrated service of faithful pastors, and the loyalty of members.

God opened the door for the work in Dyer in the fall of 1955. In January of 1956, the burden to establish a Baptist church in the Dyer area led Brother Freeman Goodge to take a door-to-door survey. The results of that survey confirmed a need and Godís leading to start and organize a local church. A planning meeting was held in the home of Art Jones in the spring of 1956. The first church service was held in February 1956 in the home of Mrs. Betty Elder at 1502 Magnolia Street in Dyer.

In March, a building on the southeast corner of Sheffield Avenue and 213th Street was rented to hold services until other arrangements could be made. The Dyer Town Hall was made available in September, and Brother Goodge was able to purchase 75 folding chairs in Chicago. The church had been officially organized as an Independent Baptist Church with Freeman Goodge as its first pastor. A split occurred over the naming and affiliation of the church. The Charter Members were: Adrienne Carter, Ray Carter, Betty Elder, Freeman Goodge, Martha Goodge, Bill Goodson, Martha Goodson, Art Jones, Letha Jones, Jesse Troup, Lloyd Troup, and Norman Troup.

An offer of $3,500 was made on the property at 735 - 213th Street in the summer of 1957. However, the next morning the price had been raised to $4,500. Immediately Pastor Goodge put $500 down as earnest money. Construction began in the fall. Mr. Keilman, of then Keilman Block Plant, helped supply the blocks for the building. However, there was much opposition to the new church. Work continued through the winter without heat and lights. The first building was located at the north side of what is currently the building directly behind the gymnasium, which today houses our Primary and Junior Sunday School classes. The present Treasure Seekers Club office was the old church kitchen and was used for Sunday School on Sunday. During that time, cottage prayer meetings were being held in the homes of members. All the work was done by laymen. The materials for the building had to be trucked in from Chicago. Our first Vacation Bible School was held in 1957 by Mr. & Mrs. O. K. Jackson of Child Evangelism in the homes of members. Our first Missions Conference was held in February 1958 with Faith Promise Giving presented. The old furnace room was used as a Sunday School office and counting room.

In the spring of 1959, we had outgrown the old auditorium and began construction on the second unit (which is now our nursery and Pastorís office) and a parsonage (which is now the west wing). The Goodges resided on Harrison Avenue until the parsonage was built. A loan was obtained from the Calumet National Bank for construction, and the payment was $40.50 a month. The garage of the new parsonage was used for a Sunday School on Sunday, and the members used their cars as buses. Brother Goodge drove for the Lake Central Schools and used this bus on Sundays to help establish our bus ministry. This bus was also used as a Sunday School classroom. Our first bus was a 1950 GMC 36 passenger, painted blue and white to match a memberís car.

Our missions conferences were held on an annual basis, and the first Thanksgiving Praise Service was held in the first auditorium. A steel strike necessitated that we build our own center beam for the new auditorium (the second one), and brother Goodge met that challenge. We also built our own baptistery. Previously, baptisms were done at other churches. A small volunteer choir was in the making. Our building completed and feeling the call of God after the 1961 Missions Conference with Dr. Tom Freeney of B.I.M.L., Brother Goodge resigned. He announced his plans to go back to the mission field and serve in the Anguilla Islands. Brother Goodge left for the mission field that summer with us as a supporting church.
Our Vision Expanded (1961 - 1969)

Our Deacon Board - Bob McKown, James Lewis, Brad Conley, Pete Lapina, Preston Vinson, and Charles Whitten - extended a call to Rev. L. W. Bixler. Brother Bixler became the pastor in July of 1961. Our church was then experiencing tremendous growth, and we were supporting three missionaries. Shortly we added three buses and two new missionaries. The home and property across the street from the church on the south side of 213th Street was purchased in July 1963. The new 7-room parsonage would be provided for the pastor. The old parsonage was converted into a nursery space. Total membership was just over 400, and new plans were being made for another auditorium. Child Evangelism classes were being held weekly along with Rescue Mission Services. Our ministries included Pioneer Girls, Boys Brigade, Training Union, Women's Missionary Society, and a "Fishers of Men Fellowship". We were running 5 bus routes (3 buses and 2 privately-owned vans). The Sauk village bus route was started out of the home of Leonard and Hazel Burrell. We now had 6 deacons, and our Sunday School was averaging around 300.

It was during this time that our first parking lot was graveled. Many of the laymen working on the project donated extra money on the slag so that the mud could be covered. Teamwork was evident, and the blessing of God was apparent. However, the vision for a new auditorium would have to wait. Brother Bixler resigned and left in January 1970 to accept a church in Pennsylvania.

Our Vision Tested (1970 - 1979)
The church had been experiencing blessing in numbers but it was largely bus-based. The church began to experience financial difficulty. Rev. Robert Myers was called to be the new pastor in April 1970. Our missionary support was behind and, consequently, sacrifices were made to restore the church to better financial footing.

Nevertheless, our office wing was completed during the winter of 1971 and spring of 1972, but the plans for the new auditorium would have to wait again. Brother Myers resigned in April 1972. A call was extended to Rev. Bill Barber in June 1972. Trailers were purchased to accommodate the growing Sunday School. Remodeling was done on the auditorium and the nurseries were moved back to the original building. Brother Al Chambers, the music director, resigned in October 1972. A second parsonage was purchased in St. John in 1972. In January 1973, Brother Pat Freeney came. Miss Shirley Vincent became pastorís secretary with Nancy Tripp as our receptionist. A television program was added. Rick Lindberg was Youth Pastor, brother Charles Whitten (who had been saved as a result of the bus ministry) was Bus Director. Brother Freeney left at the end of January 1974.

In 1976, God renewed the vision to build a new auditorium, and property on Route 30 was purchased. A bond issue was conducted to finance the new building, and plans were made. Opposition came in the form of denial of commercial zoning. The bonds had to be recalled and paid, and the property sold. We were running 5 bus routes, had a 6-member staff, and our youth ministry had a full-time staff member. Our music program was being developed under the leadership of Brother Freeney who had returned in February 1977. Charles Whitten was added as a full-time Bus Director. The remodeling of the church platform was done in 1977. Brother Barber celebrated his 6th anniversary in June and resigned in July 1978. We had issued and sold $325,000 in bonds to build a new auditorium, and the monies were deposited awaiting a pastor. In November 1978, our church extended a call to Dr. Victor Sears. The finances of the church were priority since we had already sold the bonds and were experiencing severe inflation. The monies had been invested. Due to health reasons, Dr. Sears resigned in April 1979. Our church called Rev. Charles Surrett to be its pastor.
Godís Greater Vision (1980 - 1990)
Our groundbreaking took place on March 16, 1980, and construction began on the current auditorium. We knew that if a job was to be done, it would be done by each member - together. We were “Building for God.” The auditorium was to be constructed between all the existing building and tied together under one roof. We contracted the excavation, foundation, steel, cement, plumbing and sprinkling system, masonry, and windows. The members did the electrical work, carpentry, drywall, painting, flooring, carpeting, heating and air conditioning, and lighting. We also installed our own sound system. Two additional bond issues had to be done to complete the project. Both parsonages were remodeled during this time, and air conditioning installed by our laymen. The Christmas cantata was canceled in 1981 in order to complete the building. Our first service in the new auditorium was held on November 21, 1981. There were still parts of the project uncompleted. We labored on so that the building could be completed and dedicated on the 25th anniversary of the founding of the church.

The new building was dedicated to God on February 28, 1982. Our people and our money were spent, and future improvements would be on a pay-as-you-go basis. 2 Chronicles 7:16 was read at the dedication service, “For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there for ever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually.” Our theme was “Together We Build,” and our theme verse was Psalm 127:1. “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.” God provided, preserved the stand of the church, and protected us so that not one person was seriously injured during the days of construction. We had 393 in attendance at the dedication service. Our new auditorium would seat 578. Now we faced the challenge of filling it. We now had four bus routes, a four-member staff, three deacons, and were supporting 20 missionary families, plus several colleges and projects. Our church was averaging 300 in Sunday School. In the summer of 1984, our landscaping (a donation from one of our members) was completed. In September, the church newsletter, “The Dyer Discipler,” was discontinued as a cost-cutting measure, and our staff was cut to three men. We had nursing home services, a ladies Bible study, Awana program for the children, a men and boys’ sports program, Pro-Teens, and a new church library and resource center. It was necessary for our members to assume the duties of the cleaning of the church buildings to save money. The missionary closet was started for our missionaries. A Youth Pastor was added part-time in 1987. In the spring of 1990, our parking lot was paved. Pastor Surrett resigned in June 1990.
Godís Renewed Vision (1990 - 1992)
Dr. David Atkinson became our pastor on November 18, 1990. In the winter of 1991, our new nurseries were completed and dedicated. Several Sunday School classes had been refurbished, the parsonage re-roofed, one new bus purchased, and our office wing redecorated. We now had a book table ministry, and our library was re-opened. Our church now had a “Policy and Procedural Manual” compiled. A new façade had been done giving a modern look to our building, and many new electronics added. A major purchase was the memorabilia display case done to commemorate the 36th Anniversary of the church. From November 1990 to early 1992, 85 new members joined the church. We now had new hymnals to accommodate the growth. We were then supporting 43 missionaries including several colleges and other projects. We continued the theme of “Building for God” into our 36th Anniversary and added another theme for that year - There truly is “Something Mighty Sweet About The Lord.”
More to Come (1990 - Present)
More to come.
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