On August 3, 1952 the Netherwood Park congregation met for the first time in a small auditorium constructed on the present site as a church plant by the Fifth and Marble (Albuquerque) church of Christ. The current auditorium was completed in 1957 and was remodeled and expanded to its current capacity of 600 in 1987. Netherwood completed its first classroom wing, a kitchen and fellowship hall in 1975 and an additional classroom wing was completed in 1987. The latest addition to our facilities is a large Family Enrichment Center, completed in 2005. In March 2013 two services were offered to encourage further congregational growth.
A Detailed History of the Netherwood Park church of Christ Origin and Growth
The year was 1914. Albuquerque was a small but growing town centered around the downtown area. What is now the Northeast Heights was strictly desert. There was no established congregation of the church of Christ in Albuquerque. Reuben Talley and his wife, May Bell, moved to Albuquerque and began having Bible study in their home on Forrester Avenue in the northwest part of town. A few people were baptized, mostly families, but no marked progress was made until May 1918 when George Mickey held a gospel meeting in a tent on Forrester near Lomas. There were six charter members among the small group meeting at this time. Fifteen people were baptized during the meeting. The church began to grow but as yet there was no permanent meeting place. The first church building was erected in 1922 on Forrester Avenue. From this group evolved what became known as the Fifth and Marble congregation, which began in 1935. This church was instrumental in establishing several congregations, one of which was Netherwood Park church of Christ. Fifth and Marble oversaw and financed the construction of the first building at Netherwood Park. Some of the members from Fifth and Marble became charter members at the new congregation. The land on which the building now stands was known as the Netherwood Park Addition, named for Ada and Edwin Netherwood, and was owned by Mrs. Neats (Wilhelmina) Coe. A concentrated effort was made to either purchase the property from Mrs. Coe or have her give it to the church. After much deliberation, she consented to give 75 feet of land on Indian School Road. A short time later, Mr. and Mrs. Coe gave an additional piece of land to the west, 5 lots, 50 feet each. The City Planning Commission then vacated the street to the west of the building and deeded it to Netherwood Park. The church did not own the present parking area and was unable at that time to purchase it from Mrs. Coe. Oscar Huddleston Construction Company constructed the first building at a cost of $22,000. Mr. Huddleston was a charter member of the Fifth and Marble congregation. The first building consisted of an auditorium and three or four classrooms. The first services were held in this building on August 3, 1952, the beginning of an eight day lectureship. There were 59 members in the original meeting. Later, an additional classroom section, a small kitchen, the preacher’s office, and a fellowship room were added at a cost of $5000. Al Gower designed the new addition. Irl Pemberton, a deacon and a mechanical engineer, approved the plans. Joe Phipps, a member and a construction foreman, supervised the work on the new portion, which was built almost completely with volunteer help from the members at Netherwood Park.
Robert A. Hawkins was the first evangelist. He began work with the congregation on the first Sunday in August 1952 and served until April 1954. The church was self-supporting from the beginning. The total budget for 1953 was $13,032, with a weekly contribution averaging $250.62. A list of all the ministers that have served the Netherwood Park church of Christ can be viewed here.
On October 30, 1952, the first elders and deacons were appointed. Wayne W. Stell, Sr. and Erroll T. Gay were the elders. The deacons were Larry Hansen, Dale Simpson, Harvey Stultz and Nathan Moore.
Until 1954, Netherwood Park was the only congregation of the church of Christ in the Northeast Heights.
The congregation outgrew the first building and the elders began to make plans for a new auditorium. They borrowed approximately $40,000 and on February 12, 1956, they started a drive for a special contribution of $20,000. Work began on the new auditorium on October 8, 1956. Glen Paden of Cleburne, Texas was the contractor. He did all the work except the concrete floor and the interior finishing which was done with volunteer labor by members of the congregation. The first service was held in the new addition on Sunday, March 17, 1957. A potluck dinner was served at 1:00 pm with an “old fashioned” singing at 2:30. The old building, with the exception of the preacher’s office, was later converted to classrooms with a breezeway between the two buildings. Membership continued to increase until it became necessary to make arrangements for additional classrooms. In 1964, an attempt was made to buy additional land behind the building next to the freeway. Mrs. Coe refused to sell. The elders then decided to buy property at a different location and construct a new church building with ample parking space. On July 3, 1969, Netherwood Park contracted to buy 3.6 acres of unzoned property in Panorama Heights Addition (Chelwood) for $27,500 to be paid in annual installments. The object was to get it zoned for a church building. The building at Netherwood Park would be sold and a new one erected a Chelwood. In November 1970, Mrs. Coe agreed to sell the desired property to Netherwood Park provided she could get the cash immediately. On November 19, a purchase agreement was executed to purchase property in the Northwest Quadrant of the intersection of Indian School Road and San Mateo from Mrs. Coe for $60,000. This additional land added a little over two acres to the church property. The elders started proceedings to sell the Chelwood property and make plans for a new classroom wing and fellowship hall. This would be the first of a three-phase building plan. The Chelwood property did not sell immediately; however, in October 1975 construction began on the new additions. A two-story classroom wing, a supply room, kitchen, fellowship hall and offices for the preachers and the secretary were completed in early 1976. A lectureship was held in April 1976 to celebrate the completion of the new facilities. There was a record attendance of 650 on the last night of the lectureship.
In 1976, the first building and breezeway were demolished in preparation for the second phase of the building plan, a new foyer to be added to the front of the auditorium. For financial reasons, this work had to be delayed. The remodeling and addition to the building were completed in October 1980. With this work done, it was now time to pave the parking lot. The paving and striping were done in 1981. The third phase of the long-range building plan would be another two-story wing of classrooms to be done as soon as the elders felt the congregation could handle the financial obligation. As the congregation continued to grow it became evident that it was time to make plans for the third and last phase of the building program. The establishment and growth of Netherwood Park is a fulfillment of “The Possible Dream” that began with the Fifth and Marble congregation in the early 1950’s.
By 1986 blueprints had been approved and everything was in readiness to begin the new additions. The elders asked the members to pledge $400,000 toward this work. On Sunday, November 23, 1986, the congregation pledged $372,226. By December 7 a total of $406,646 had been pledged, and additional pledges brought the total to $408,607 to be paid over a three-year period. Ground breaking for the beginning of the building expansion was held Sunday, March 29, 1987. It was a memorable occasion. Some members who had been at the original groundbreaking in 1952 were present. There were also some present that were at the beginning of the construction on the auditorium in 1956 and for the classroom wing in 1976. The auditorium was widened and remodeled, new classrooms added, the nursery enlarged, and a training room provided, as well as a commons area to be used for small groups such as showers and receptions. The work was completed and the additions were used for the first time on September 27, 1987. The building dedication was held Sunday, October 18, 1987 at 3:00 p.m. with Harvey Porter, the minister at Montgomery Boulevard congregation as guest speaker. This was also the 35th anniversary of Netherwood Park. By the end of January 1990, $313,943 had actually been contributed toward the completion of “The Possible Dream”. This meant that 76% of the pledges, or 78% of the goal had been given. The elders were able to make a lump-sum payment on the principal balance at the end of 1990, which lowered the monthly payments. We were then able to finance the mission work among the Laotian refugees here in Albuquerque. A lump sum balloon payment for the remaining building costs was due in January 1995. In order to meet this obligation, it was decided that a bonding program would be an expedient means of doing so and would save a substantial amount of interest in the long run. The bond program was held during October and November of 1994 with David Keese and Walter Lane co-chairing the effort. Members purchased $296,000 worth of the funds through Reliance Trust Company of Atlanta, Georgia with maturity dates ranging from 6 months to 9 years. In the fall of 1999, a computerized multi-media system was added to the auditorium and in 2000 a new sound system was also added to the auditorium, as well as an upgraded kitchen in the fellowship hall. An island was built that housed a new Corning cook-top and microwaves as well as extra cabinet space and bookcases for songbooks. A new dishwasher, refrigerator, and double oven also replaced the old and well-worn ones. All building indebtedness was paid by December 2003.
On January 5, 2003 a “We Believe” campaign was initiated to build a new Family Enrichment Center (FEC). The campaign started with the Elders asking the congregation to pray for 40 days and then committing to raising $975,000 over 36 months to fund the project. The project wasn’t just a building program, but a tool to accomplish some lofty goals for the church. The Elders issued a purpose statement as follows, “Building a Family Enrichment Center is merely a tool to accomplish our greater goals of spiritual maturity, reaching the lost and building relationships”. The campaign theme was, “We believe God has a plan and purpose for us”. The groundbreaking for the Family Enrichment Center occurred on November 16, 2003, after a delay caused by some legal issues over parking. However, by January 4, 2004 the We Believe contribution totaled $407,105.46 and in November 2004 a contract was awarded to T.A. Cole and Sons for $973,475 and construction on the FEC was begun. In December of 2004 the We Believe campaign received a donation from long time members at Netherwood, Foye and Ruby Rogers. After Ruby Rogers passed away, Foye left the church slightly over $90,000 in his will. (Foye and Ruby were married over 70 years and were an inspiration to the church by the life they lived). On August 25, 2005 a community open house was held in the newly constructed Family Enrichment Center and on August 28 the Center was dedicated. On April 30, 2006 a successful end to the We Believe campaign was accomplished, with total contributions reaching $1,145,814.78. Today the FEC serves as an activity center for our Netherwood Park family and is shared with outside organizations for community recreational activities.
On May 13, 2006 another Netherwood church member left $300,000 to the church in their will and the money was used to purchase a new shuttle bus and the balance designated for various capital projects.
Although the physical growth of the Netherwood Park church has been important, its spiritual growth is also of vital importance. So, on June 20, 2010 the Netherwood Park Elders started a “2020 Plan” by calling on the congregation to pray for its success over the next 40 days. This spiritual program is basically a focus by our members on learning about God’s word and imitating and serving Christ. The Elders have asked the congregation to make seven core activities a fundamental part of their life. These activities include: 1) daily personal prayer, 2) daily personal Bible study, 3) attending congregational worship every week, 4) attending Bible class every Sunday, 5) fellowshipping with members of the church (e.g., small groups), 6) being involved in a personal ministry of service and 7) mentoring and being mentored for growth. The progress of the Netherwood Park 2020 Plan can be viewed through documents furnished by the eldership on this website by clicking on the menu item, 20/20 Plan.
In 2012, with church attendance exceeding 80% of the auditorium seating capacity it was decided to offer two services starting in March of 2013 to encourage further church growth at Netherwood Park.
After serious consideration, the elders decided to return to having just one Sunday service, effective on Sunday, May 28, 2017. As part of their explanation for returning to one service, they stated, "How do we feel about our experiment with two services? We do not feel defeated and we do not feel discouraged. We still see ourselves as a lifeboat and are still committed to saving souls. We will keep working at ways to be more effective in seeking and saving the lost. We are glad we stepped up and tried the two-service experiment. And we are grateful for your support".