SILVER CITY (BNM) –First Baptist Church, Silver City, and Rio Mimbres Baptist Church, Mimbres, are partnering to launch a preaching point in a renovated Santa Clara church building, September 12. According to Charles Lord, pastor of First Baptist, the services will be on Sunday afternoons. Lord and Jeremy Butler, pastor of the Mimbres congregation, will rotate providing preaching and music. Members of the two churches will also participate. The location of the preaching point previously housed a church and was briefly used by a church plant.
In the 1940s, Willis Robert Chandler felt God leading him to build a church in New Mexico in what is now the Village of Santa Clara. According to the “History of Copper Ridge Fellowship,” “He saved his tithe, dedicated the land on which the church now stands to the Lord, and began to use provisions provided by the Lord to follow His leadership in building the adobe building which stands today as a tribute to our Lord. With support from his family, [Chandler] built the small tribute as God led. He used pine lumber to fashion a pulpit and pews, dedicating the building to the used by any evangelical minister.” Chandler’s granddaughter, Jewel Burk, and Evelyn Peirce wrote the account.
After Chandler’s death in 1950 at the age of 81, his widow, Sophronia, deeded the land and building to First Baptist Church, Bayard. Soon, the Bayard church started a mission Sunday School on Sunday afternoons in Santa Clara. First Baptist Church, Santa Clara (then called Central), incorporated in 1953. The congregation grew over the years and hosted many outreach activities. Its mission outreach points included Silver Heights, Pinos Altos and Santa Rita. Over time, the church updated and expanded the facility with indoor plumbing and a fellowship/Sunday School area.
In 2008, the church changed its name to Copper Ridge Fellowship, it moved to a new property in 2012. In 2017 Cooper Ridge transferred the unused property to the Southwestern Baptist Association.
First Baptist Church, Deming, called a Hispanic church planter to restart a Spanish-speaking church. SWBA partnered with the deming congregation, the North American Mission Board and BCNM to support the new work. However, the Deming work never got started. Since SWBA was helping support the couple, they asked the couple to move to Santa Clara. After a year of hard work, they started Abundant Life Church, using the fellowship area of the old Santa Clara church while the sanctuary was being renovated. That church start also failed, and the couple went back to Texas.
Building renovations continued, funded primarily by SWBA to rewire the entire building and replace the plumbing. The association completely restored the sanctuary. A donor provided funds for a new roof. The BCNM contributed money for new flooring. The site remained unused and unnamed.
Recently, a back-to-school event was held and the churches gave away school supplies and backpacks to approximately 30 children in attendance. BCNM contributed to the expense of the supplies.
Chandler was a godly praying man. He prayed that his family and others would come to know the Lord in the small adobe building. His legacy lives on as God continues to work in Santa Clara.