Friday, December 21, 2018

Christmas Eve candlelight service - 7 PM

Please join us on Christmas Eve, at 7 PM, for a night of joy through singing, fellowship, and a message entitled, "Joy to the World" from the Gospel of Luke brought by Pastor Powell.  The congregation will be singing some of our favorite Christmas hymns, the choir will perform, Evan Wolfgong will be playing a special number on the piano, as will Nicole Powell on her viola, and lastly Lois Ann Schaeffer will once more move us all with her rendition of "O Holy Night" as we join in a circle around the sanctuary and light our candles.  All our welcome, come join us in celebrating the arrival of Emmanuel, God with us.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Third Annual Toy Drive this Saturday at 1st Baptist

We are happy once again to host the toy drive organized by our own Josie Seely, please come and help us fill the bus with toys for Children's Hospital.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Community Choir Christmas Festival: Choirs from Franklin, Cranberry, and Oil City High Schools - Saturday, December 22nd at 7 PM

1st Baptist (1041 Liberty St.  Franklin, PA 16323) will be hosting an incredible choir performance on Saturday, December 22nd at 7 PM which will consist of the high school choirs from Franklin, Cranberry, and Oil City schools.

The three choirs will perform separately, but also combine to sing together.

The event is free, open to the public, no tickets necessary

There will be an offering taken to benefit the local Salvation Army

Image result for Oil City high school choir

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Jo Beach, 1st Baptist's 1,000th member, celebrating 100 years, November 27th 1918-2018

March 23rd, 1932 was the date of the baptism of Helen Josephine Irwin, when she became the 1,000th member of the church which had been formed in 1867; we all call her Jo, and she was a part of 1st Baptist of Franklin even before her baptism at 13, soon after her parents moved here when she was 4 from where they had lived by Cooks Forrest.  Jo has been a part of 1st Baptist through the tenure of 13 pastors (and 4 interim pastors).  She was here when the church, town, and county were booming, and she's been here during the times of decline.  In her early years, Jo enjoyed  being a part of church plays, loved being onstage, and causing what in those days was considered to be a ruckus with her friend Lawanda Baker, who was born just over a month before Jo, and went home to glory on August 27th of 2017 after 98 years.  Jo taught Sunday School when 1st Baptist's 2nd longest tenured member was in the class, 88 year-old Lois Ann Schaeffer.  She married a classmate, Chester Beach, on August 28th, 1939, they had two daughters, Carol and Penny.  Chester preceded Jo, on February 9th, 2002, after 62 years of marriage.  Jo still speaks of Chester, the love they shared is readily apparent.

Through it all, through the good times and the hard, Jo has brought a light-hearted attitude and an understated but hilarious sense of humor to the life of the church.  In her later years, Jo's eyesight deteriorated, but it didn't get her down, she has consistently emphasized how blessed she is, and has been, in life, and how good to her and important to her, the church and its people have been.  She told me that she liked the old hymns best, because she could sing them by heart since she couldn't see the words anymore.  Nearly everyone at 1st Baptist has a Jo Beach story, most of them funny, it is our honor to wish her joy (which she already has in abundance) on her 100th birthday.  We love you Jo.

Jo holding newborn Clara Marie Powell in 2015
For an earlier posting on Jo's life, click the following link: Stepping into history, a conversation with Jo Beach

An one highlighting Jo's 80th Anniversary as a member from 2012: March 25th, 1932

Jo making Lois Ann Schaeffer (left) and Marilyn Shepherd (right) laugh at the party

Jo getting ready for the candles and the birthday song

Friday, November 9, 2018

Upcoming Educational Series offered by Pastor Powell

Always nice to have a heads-up with time to spare of upcoming things for the calendar...

What Every Christian Should Know About: World Religions

1/9, 1/16, 1/23 from 6:00-8:30 PM

New Life Community Church
504 Youngstown-Kingsville Rd.
Vienna, OH 44473

What Every Christian Should Know About: Church History

2/6, 2/13, 2/20, 2/27 from 7:15-8:45

Seneca United Methodist Church
196 East State Rd.
 Seneca, PA 16346

All three of Pastor Powell's educational series are currently view-able through his blog at the following locations:

The History of the Bible: History of the Bible

World Religions: World Religions

Church History: Church History

(scroll down, located below World Religions on the same page)

If your church or group is interested in scheduling an in-person presentation of any of the three series, please contact Pastor Powell at 814-432-8061 or by email at

Thursday, November 8, 2018

More views from the bell tower

Safety first, harnesses on

The vantage point of pastor's pictures

The view from the top of the bell tower

A perk of our nearly completed bell tower renovation was the chance to day to go up on the lift to both inspect the work firsthand and take some amazing photos of downtown Franklin from a rarely seen vantage point.

The view of the equally large structure of 1st UMC

Christ Church at the bottom right

St. Pat's and the Allegheny valley, looking east.

The confluence of the Allegheny (top) and French Creek (coming from the left)

Our neighbors a block down on Liberty, St. Patrick's Catholic Church

Downtown Franklin

Looking down Liberty toward downtown, our neighbors 1st UMC at the bottom right.

The church roof and the parsonage.

The church roof and the parking lot.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Preserving our history, more photos from the past

The Royal bible Class, 1983

Men and Women of the church, 1948/49
front row third from right, Ken Beightol
second row, last on the left, Lois Ann Schaeffer

children of the church, early 1960's

exterior of the church and parsonage, prior to expansion/renovation of 1902 (winter)

exterior of the church and parsonage, prior to the expansion/renovation of 1902 (summer)

Stewards Sunday School class reunion, 1997

Stewards Sunday School class reunion, 1997, names of photo above

Preserving our history, photos from the past

We're in the process of hanging some old church photos in our entrance hallway so that they can be viewed and enjoyed by members of the congregation and visitors alike.  As part of that process, we're scanning these photos and posting them here online as a means of preserving them for the future.  If you had ancestors who were part of First Baptist Church of Franklin, please contact us and let us know who they are (the photo that have names listed will also have that information scanned as well, the others are a mystery to us.)

Boys' Choir, 1911

Church band, 1911
Members of the 1911 Church Band

Men and Women of the Church out front, unknown date, Charles Miller at center (right half of photo)

Men and Women of the Church out front, unknown date, Charles Miller at center (left half of photo)

Men of the Church out front, unknown date

Sanctuary circa 1904, showing the use of the expansion through the doors with its 1,800 seats

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Christian Antisemitism: An Utterly Absurd Oxymoron

Tension between Judaism and Christianity goes back to the generation of Jesus and the Apostles.  John the Baptist was accepted as a prophet by the followers of Christ, but rejected by the official leadership of Judaism in Jerusalem.  Likewise, Jesus himself, although like John receiving support from the masses, was rejected by all but a few in the hierarchy of Judaism, a group that was the focus of much of Jesus' ire in his preaching.  In the Early Church, first centered in Jerusalem under the leadership of Jesus' half-brother James, and peopled almost entirely by converts from Judaism (who considered themselves to be reformers of Judaism, not founders of a new religion), there was also tension with the leadership of Judaism which led to the first Christian martyr after Jesus: Stephen.
The Early Church might have retained a strong connection to Judaism if not for two later developments: the massive success of the Apostle Paul among Gentiles (and concurrent failure among his own people, leading to the anguished thoughts of Romans 9-11, excerpted below), and the destruction of Jerusalem leading to the end of 2nd Temple Judaism and the Diaspora.  As the first generation of the Church came to a close, the organization took on a distinctly Gentile character, and its Jewish origins faded into the background.
Animosity and hostility toward the Jewish minority in what was to become Christendom was not non-existent, but it was never widespread on the level that would become the later pogroms, forced conversions by the Inquisition, and then ultimately genocide at the hands of the Nazis until the Late Middle Ages.  In 1096, in response to Pope Urban II's call for a Crusade to recapture the Holy Land, Peter the Hermit, who raised an army in the Rhineland, perpetuated there the first large scale massacre of Jews by Christians.  To the shame of the Church, this trend has continued to this day, and while few are alive who witnessed the Holocaust, the scourge of Antisemitism residing within those claiming to be a part of the Church remains.

This is, of course, a patent absurdity.  There is no such thing as Christian Antisemitism.  There are those who claim to be Christian who espouse Antisemitism, and there may be those who are indeed Christians whose minds are still infected with Antisemitism, but the two mindsets are diametrically opposed to each other.  In the end, the mind of Christ will prevail, and hate will be banished, or the true un-regenerated nature of those claiming to follow Christ will be revealed and their ongoing hatred will refute any pretense of being a Christ-follower.

There is, and must be, a gap between Christianity and Judaism (as long as one accepts and the other rejects Jesus as the Messiah), but that gap ought to elicit sorrow and compassion on the part of Christians, as it did for the Apostle Paul, and not prejudice or hatred.  We have, as Christians, an undeniable debt toward Judaism, for our New Covenant and New Testament are built upon the Abrahamic/Mosaic Covenant and the Hebrew Scriptures.

It is incumbent upon Christians, always and everywhere, not as an option but an obligation, to reject Antisemitism in both its violent forms and its more subtle conspiracy theories and racial stereotypes, those who fail to do so are doing a disservice to the Gospel, and those who instead embrace them by their attitudes/words/actions are declaring themselves to be fighting against the Word of God, and calling into question their own salvation.

That the Church has failed to live up to the demands of Scripture by allowing Antisemitism to fester and even thrive in its midst, and that the people associated with the Church have been either bystanders to, or complicit in, the brutalization of the Jewish people and eventually their genocide, is the greatest shame and most enduring stain upon the Bride of Christ.  We, collectively, over the past 2,000 years, have failed in this, we will answer to God for that failure, for Christian Antisemitism is an abomination.

Romans 9:3-5 New International Version (NIV)
3 For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, 4 the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. 5 Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.

Romans 11:1-6 New International Version (NIV)

11 I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: 3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”? 4 And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” 5 So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. 6 And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

Romans 11:11-24 New International Version (NIV)
11 Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. 12 But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring!
13 I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I take pride in my ministry 14 in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. 15 For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 16 If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.
17 If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, 18 do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. 19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” 20 Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.

22 Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. 23 And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

What Every Christian Should Know About: Church History

Church History

In this 3 part series, Pastor Powell seeks to highlight some of the most important ideas, people, and movements within the universal Church during its two-thousand year history.  

To view the PowerPoint used by Pastor Powell during the presentation, click on the link below:
Church History PowerPoint

In part 1, the Early Church, the Early heresies regarding the person of Jesus, the Ecumenical Councils, and St. Augustine are the focus.

Church History, Part 1 of 3

In part 2, Monasticism, the power struggle between popes and emperors/kings, the Great Schism, and the Crusades are discussed.

Church History, Part 2 of 3

In part 3, The Reformation, the Thirty Years War, the Modern Missions Movement, and the status of the Church in the World Today are discussed.

Church History, Part 3 of 3

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Church History seminar by Pastor Powell, part 1 now available, session 2 this Sunday

The first part, of three, of Pastor Powell's new seminar on Church History is now available to watch on YouTube.  Part 1 covers the Early Church, the heresies regarding the person of Jesus, the Ecumenical Councils, and St. Augustine.

Part 2 will premiere this Sunday, 10/21, from 6-8 PM at 1st Baptist (1041 Liberty St.) and is free and open to the public.  During part 2, the topics covered will be Monasticism, the fight for supremacy between popes and emperors, the Great Schism, and the Crusades.

Part 3 will premiere next Sunday, 10/28, also 6-8 PM at 1st Baptist.  During Part 3, the topics covered will be the Reformation, the Thirty Years War, the Modern Missions Movement, and the Church in the World Today.

If you are unable to attend in person, the videos for parts 2 & 3 will also be posted to Pastor's YouTube channel, Pastor's blog, and this website.

Pastor Powell's YouTube channel

Pastor Powell's blog page for this series