ST. LOUIS — Des Peres Baptist Church in suburban St. Louis no longer exists as a church, but the now-defunct congregation’s legacy is creating fresh excitement.
A dozen or more former members of the church, affiliated with American Baptist Churches USA, participated in morning worship services at Third Baptist Church, St. Louis, Aug. 10, to celebrate more than $5 million in Des Peres ministry gifts.
Central Baptist Theological Seminary president Molly Marshall acknowledged the seminary’s receipt of about $2.2 million of the proceeds to fund a new faculty position and create the Des Peres Chair in Congregational Health and create the Des Peres Church Resource Center in Central’s new library.
As the mother church of the Des Peres congregation, founded in 1955, Third Baptist was awarded $551,000 for the express purpose of developing inner city leadership and conducting inner city ministries.
Third Baptist pastor Warren Hoffman called the gift to his church “an answer to prayer,”“ noting that two years earlier he and Marshall had prayed about an inner city center in St. Louis.
Now Central and the congregation are strengthening their relationship, he said.
The congregation already had reaffirmed their presence in Third Baptist’s traditional inner city neighborhood.
“We’re in this city for good,” Hoffman said, explaining a triple meaning of his statement. It suggests a strong commitment, “we’re here to do good” and the congregation remains where it is “on behalf of God,” he explained.
Representing the Des Peres congregation, which met for the last time on the final Sunday of 2006, were Mauriece Smith, a Des Peres trustee, and Nina Roberts, the congregation’s moderator.
Smith explained the other half of the proceeds were designated as annual contributions for 20 years to American Baptist Churches of the Great Rivers Region (to be used for new church plants, congregational renewal and church health) and to American Baptist Churches USA (to be used for domestic and international missions).
“The building is no longer standing,” Smith said, “but the legacy of Des Peres Baptist Church will lead on.”