A History the third 50 year period of the First Baptist Church of Oakland

Philip F. Meads, Jr.

Fifty years is a long time, and much has happened at the Oakland First Baptist Church during this period. Members, former members, and friends are encouraged to send me their contributions to a forthcoming history of the church from the early 50s through today. This can be done by email to 'fbc@meads.cc' or by US mail to 7053 Shirley Drive, Oakland, CA 94611-1631.

Music in the Church

Music has been a very important part of the church in the half century. The Julia Morgan sanctuary with its stunning acoustics and the magnificent 1908 Murray M. Harris organ make this place unequaled in the Bay Area for musical events.

A very special event occurred on Sunday Evening, June 5, 1960 when the music and education departments of the church presented Benjamin Britten's "Noye's Fludde", a Chester Miracle play set to music, directed by John Burke. This event, involving 50 children from the church portraying the animals, was shown on local television. It was the first Bay Area performance of this 16th Century Miracle play set to music.

On May 26, 1961, we presented a Spring concert featuring Haydn's "The Seven Last Words of Christ", Beethoven's "Elegy", Jean Berger, "Four Sonnets for Contralto and String Quartet", and Saint-Saens "The Heavens Declare". Soloists were Shirley Garner, Beverly Garland, Janice Scott, Jean Van Osdel, Charles Bahr, and William Wilburn. The director was John Burke.

The church choir, along with a string orchestra and tympani, presented a very moving English version of Brahm's "A German Requiem" on Good Friday, April 20, 1962. Beverly Garland sang an absolutely ethereal soprano solo in the fifth movement, and Eugene Jones was the bass soloist. The 1100 seat sanctuary was filled, and even the professional orchestra musicians were in tears at the end of the concert.

John Burke presented an organ recital on November 11, 1962 to celebrate the addition of new stops to the Murray M. Harris organ.

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