George Beauchamp Vick
Pastor, Founder of the Baptist Bible Fellowship,
Bible College President - 1901 to 1975
Out of humble beginnings and great controversy, giants are made.
George Beauchamp Vick was content with being the music director of church that was pastored by J. Frank Norris, who also pastored a church in Fort Worth, Texas. It was the 1930s and the attendance of the Detroit congregation where Vick led the music had dwindled to 250 in attendance. Norris asked the young man to join the staff and, in 1936, gave him free reign to lead the church in his absence.
Vick agreed. In less than a year, the attendance of the church zoomed to over 1,600. At the conclusion of the first year of his leadership, it reached 2,000.
Vick was born 1901 as the son of a pastor in Russellville, Kentucky. The family moved to Louisville when he was but nine years of age. There, he obtained a job with the railroad company following his graduation from high school. Had it not been for Norris's observation that his young music director had some leadership capabilities, the influence of fundamental Baptists in the twentieth century would not have been so effective. During the 1930s, most fundamentalist churches were nothing more than rented storefronts on older city streets or rural churches with small congregations.
In 1947, Vick became the pastor of the church. He remained the the pastor of Detroit's Temple Baptist Church for thirty-five years. In it's peak years, the Sunday school attendance reached 5,000 and the membership increased to over 15,000.
It was in 1950 that a rift developed between Vick and Norris. A number of pastors who supported Norris's Bible College and missionary organization began to question how they were being administrated. Norris was not able to satisfy their concerns so it was determined that Vick and those who stood with him would organize a separate college and missions program. Pastor Bill Dowell of the High Street Baptist Church offered to host the new school at its location in Springfield, Missouri. Thus, the Baptist Bible College and the Baptist Bible Fellowship came into existence. It began as an association of pastors as contrasted to churches and remains so to this day. In fact, it is now the second largest Baptist group in the United States, second only to the Southern Baptist Convention.
Also, during Vick's tenure as pastor of Temple, he would oversee the moving of the church location on two more occasions.
Upon leaving the central downtown area, the church built a huge facility on Grand River Avenue. Again, In the mid-60s it relocated further out from the city on West Chicago Avenue.
The only blemish on his long standing ministry was Temple's refusal to allow blacks to worship in the church, let alone join it. Detroit was a hotbed of racial intollerence at the time due to its economy being based on the auto industry.
As a result, the car factories attracted primarily northern blacks and southern whites; a lethal combination for any American city during the pre-Civil Rights era. This flaw in Vick's personal views would almost destroy the church soon after his death (see "Truman Dollar").
Vick served as the first president of the BBF and also as president of the college. The Springfield college continues to graduate well prepared young people for full-time Christian service. The 4,000 churches of the fellowship support over 800 missionaries who serve in some 64 countries.
Not a bad legacy for a Kentucky railroad worker.
Finally, a footnote must be accorded these who were some of the beloved early leaders of the BBF: Fred Donnelson, Bill Dowell, John Rawlings, Noel Smith, Art Wilson, R.O.Woodworth, and Wendell Zimmerman.
However, they would all agree that it was G.B. Vick who was their leader; a man of God who was willing to live according to his favorite Bible verse, "And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ." ~ Acts 5:42
[From http://www.allaboutbaptists.com website. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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