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.
school attendance reached 5,000 and the membership
increased to over 15,000.
| 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,
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.
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").
|| 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
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.
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
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