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Our History After WWII

Consolidating Our Witness to the Community

As World War II ended in 1945, congregants of Baptist Church in the Great Valley faced a choice: Continue to worship in two locations or consolidate into a single location to witness more effectively to its community. 

For a number of years, the church had followed a winter/summer rotation.  Congregants met in its historic meeting House on North Valley Forge Road only in the summer - because that building, built well over a century before, had an unsatisfactory heating system -- and convene during the winter at a smaller facility known as the Berwyn Chapel in Berwyn about six miles away. 

The congregation, led by its Pastor the Reverend Samuel E. Smith, sensed - or was led by the Spirit- to believe that the land around the Meeting House would soon come alive with new housing developments, making it a fertile field for numerical and spiritual growth.  Under Rev. Smith's pastorate, the congregation in 1949 determined to sell the winter church in Berwyn and its parsonage and concentrate activities in the property that had been the core of the church for 200 years.  

Following a successful fund campaign, the Meeting House was renovated in 1949 with new lights and a new central heating system.  In 1953 the church called the Rev. Chester T. Winters as its pastor, and for the next 37 years under his leadership the church enhanced its witness to the Great Valley. 

In 1953 construction began on a new Church School Building and an adjoining parsonage on vacant land north of the cemetery.  The new Parsonage was occupied January 1, 1954 and the William Maxwell Scott Church School Building, named for the couple whose generous gifts help fund construction, opened September 18, 1954.  Classrooms and offices were added to the Scott Building in 1959, doubling the size of the Church School facilities.

While these expansions unfolded, the nearby Chesterbrook Farm, less than a mile away, was on its way to becoming the major housing development church fathers had envisioned.  Once home of champion racehorses and cattle on its 516 acres, Chesterbrok Farm effectively ceased operations in July 1962 when Eleanor Cassatt Laird, its owner, died. 

By that time the Pennsylvania Turnpike had sliced through the farm's northern fields and plans for cutting through the south farmland with a relocation of Route 202 were underway.  The farm buildings and implements were auctioned in 1965 and Richard Fox, a local developer, bought the farm for $2.3 million in 1969.

After a six year legal fight, construction began on the first homes in Chesterbrook in November 1977.  Today Chesterbrook is home to an estimated 5,200 persons living in 2,314 housing units sited in 28 villages.  And as envisioned, Chesterbrook has provided BCGV with a number of stalwart members.

During Chesterbrook's gestation, the Meeting House was improved with a new Moeller "Double Artiste" pipe organ, installed in 1958.  A renovation in 1970 added the graceful weathervane and bell to the steeple, choir dressing rooms and modern restrooms, and a balcony increasing seating capacity by 50 to a total 250.  In 1990 the Meeting House was air conditioned.

In 2010 the congregation approved modernization and expansion of the Scott Church School Building to upgrade its heating, air conditioning and electrical systems; improve accessibility by installing an elevator and accessible bathrooms; and modernize the Church School classrooms and public spaces.  Construction is expected to begin in autumn of 2010 and be completed in 2011.

Effective witness requires effective facilities.  The Baptist Church in the Great Valley's decision in 1949 to focus its energies and resources in the Great Valley has borne fruit and will be our pathway to the future.