The George W. Truett Orphanage
The George W. Truett Home was begun by Henry and Julia Hagood and when Dr. Robert and Margaret Lindsey arrived in November of 1945 there were two children connected with the Home which was in Jerusalem, Rhadia Shiarus and Jimmy Hagood. Rahdiah’s father lived in Nazareth.
The Hagoods moved with the children to Nazareth after Christmas 1945 or early 1946. Soon after going to Nazareth, Henry Hagood became ill and died and was near the Sea of Galilee up from the YMCA house.
A nurse, Elizabeth Lee, transferred from the hospital in Tiberias to Nazareth and joined the Near East Mission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Just prior to this time, Kate Ellen Gruver came to help with the Home. She had planned to live and work in Haifa, but changed her plans with the death of Henry Hagood. Elizabeth Lee and Kate Ellen Gruver stayed in Nazareth during the 1948 War of Liberation.
In 1950 the Elmo Scoggins came to live in Jerusalem. Then during the years of 1950 and 1951 there were serious troubles in the mission and the three ladies ( they had been joined by Anna Cowan) who had been in charge of the G.W.T. Home resigned and left the country. The Scoggins came to Nazareth to take over the Home, joining the Dwight and Emma Baker who were then in Nazareth.
The Paul Rowdens came in early 1952 and temporarily took over the Home from the Scoggins who then returned to Jerusalem. By this time the number of the children in the Home was 19. There had been more in it earlier but several of the children died and some of them were sent back to live with their parents.
In late 1952, Milton and Marty Murphy arrived in Israel and spent the first month in Jerusalem. Early in 1953 they moved to Nazareth and lived in the Home with the children and the Rowden family. When new housing was available for the Rowdens, the Murphys took over the management of the Home. As they worked in the Home they also helped with the Nazareth School.
During this time, decisions were made to move the Orphanage from Nazareth to Petah Tikva. This had been planned for several years as there had been talk of a community of Baptists in the Plain of Sharon.
In August of 1955 the G.W.T. Home was moved from Nazareth to Petah Tikva. The first rain of the season saw the waters of the Yarkon River rising to the edge of the foundations of the new buildings. There was no grass and the first years were ones of mud, mud, and more mud.
The education of the children in the new home was provided by teachers that were brought from Nazareth. These teachers were taught courses in Bible, art, education, and psychology. It was rather like a teacher’s seminar. One of the first students and teachers was Fuad Haddad.
In 1956 there was a general turnover in the placement of Baptist Convention in Israel (BCI) personnel. The Lindseys came to the Village and the Murphys went to language school in Haifa. In 1957 the Murphys went on furlough and during this time the house was built in the woods for the Lindseys who moved into it in August of 1958.
During these years and later, more land was purchased and the farm work was done by the children directed by the gardener, Mr. Kisselevitch. Work was also begun on a place to meet in Tel Aviv and we saw the beginnings of the work of Dugit. Frank and Marjorie Hooper came to live at the Village in the fall of 1959. Frank was then in charge of the Dugit work and Marjorie was in charge of the school. Marjorie Hooper replaced Margaret Lindsey in the school when the Lindseys moved to Tiberias. In 1961 the Hoopers moved to Jerusalem.
In the spring of 1962 Lee and Sarah Bivins arrived on the field to take over the farm project. They spent the first year studying Hebrew in Petah Tikva. It was this same year that Marcus and Ruth Reed came to take over the G.W.T. Home and the school which by his time was composed of the G.W.T. children, MK’s, and others. During the 1962-63 school year the Murpheys lived in Petah Tikva. This was an extremely difficult time because of the transition from an orphanage to a boarding school. Many of the G.W.T. kids were leaving and the Murphys who had been with them most of the time were getting ready to go on their second furlough.
It was at this time there was an effort to start a vocational school that would include agriculture. There did not seem enough interest in the agriculture branch to warrant its continuation.
In 1965 Robert and Eddie Fields came to be in charge of the school. It was then that it was decided to emphasize the metal shop as the primary vocation. The girls in the school at that time added cooking and sewing along with the academic subjects. In 1966-67 the school became completely a boys school, and there was a new system without the orphans, girls, and MK's. The school was let out early in June of 1967 because of the Six Day War. The Allison Banks arrived just a few days before the war to fill in the place of the Bivins who left for furlough soon after the War. The Fields were responsible for upgrading the school and making application for recognition by the government. This recognition did not come until 1972 after the decision was made to close the school.
In 1968 the Fields left for furlough, and the Bivins returned. The Banks then moved over to the school. During this period Fuad Hadad came to be the Dean of Students in the school. In 1969 the Bill Grindstaffs came to take over the school and the Banks went to Jerusalem. The Grindstaffs left after the school year and it was decided that Fuad Hadad would be the director of the school. At the end of 1971 and the beginning of 1972 a thorough study was made of the school because of its continuing deficit and its inability to attract qualified students. It was agreed after much study and discussion that there was no alternative but to close the school in June of 1972.
With the closing of the school it meant that two of the projects that had been envisioned as part of a "Baptist Settlement" in the late 1940's had been phased out.
As early as 1946 there had been a vision for the development of the baptist settlement that would serve as a center of Baptist life in the country. It would be something that would fit to the life of the country. It would be a place where believers who were persecuted for their faith would be able find refuge.
The earliest beginnings of such a project go back to a group of Russian believers who were loaned some money to purchase 12 dunams of land west of the main highway from Petah Tikva to Ramatayim and south of the railway tracks. This money was loaned in 1946. In 1948 some more land was rented and the project survived, in a way, throughout the war of 1948. In 1949, 16 dunams of land was purchased next to the 12 dunams of land that was owned by the Russian settlers. In 1950 an abandoned orange grove was purchased on the Yarkon River. The amount of land was 44 dunams and this is the location of the present Baptist Village.
1951 Tom Francis and his wife came out to work as agriculturalists on this settlement project that was to be kind of a Baptist kibbutz or moshav (a collective intentional community). The Mission applied to the Jewish Agency for 1,000 dunams of land near the Lod airport. It was to be a settlement of 60 agricultural families. The plan was to have cost the FMB about a million dollars over a period of years. After the project fell through the Francises left for home in February or March of 1953 for the project had been their purpose for being here. Incidentally, it might be mentioned that the Francises are partly responsible for the Murphys coming to Israel. They were acquainted in seminary and when there was the need for couple in the school in Nazareth, they had the mission contact the Murphys.
This Baptist Settlement was to be, among other things, the new home of the G. W. Truett Orphans. With the cancellation of the project there was discussion about the location of the new home as the facilities they were occupying were inadequate. Was this to be in Nazareth or on the land that had been purchased near Petah Tikva? The Murphys did not know much about the discussions concerning the location of the home prior to their coming. They had read the reports and had been told of the discussions, but were too new to understand what all was involved. It was decided at the Home would be moved to the 44 dunams of land near Petah Tikva.
Almost all of 1954 and 1955 were spent in the building of the new home at Petah Tikva. The orphanage was moved there in August of 1955. The children went to school in the morning and worked on the farm in the afternoon. One of the main reasons for moving was to give the children a chance to work on the farm. The first name given to the project was "The Baptist Agricultural Institution". The farming during the early years was rather haphazard, as no one knew very much about farming. Some citrus groves were planted as well as other fruit trees. One of the original Russian settlers, Trophim Polipechuck, left in 1956 or 57. Additional land was purchased at this time.
In the spring of 1962 Lee Bivins and his wife came to take over the farm project. In 1963, the "Ganan", Mr. Y. Kisselevitch, died. He had worked with the farm project with the children since 1955 until his death. He meant a great deal to the children and to the project itself. After his death other workers were hired as the children's home was phased out. These workers included a farm manager, a gardener, and others. Emphasis was placed on a beef cattle project and a cattle barn was built in 1964-65.
In re-evaluating the total program, with the farm and the school, and considering the problems involved, it was decided in 1971-72 to close out the beef cattle barn and the dairy barn. It was decided that we would continue to operate the citrus groves and would work the rest of the land in partnership. One of the reasons for the retrenchment policy was the inability of the farm to realize much of a profit. In spite of these decisions to cut back, the farm project represents a very important aspect of the work at the Baptist Village and Baptists in Israel. It gives Baptists an image of permanency and shows that we are not afraid to work with our hands on the land. This image should be preserved and fostered even with the smaller farm operation.
Camps and Conferences
Even before the present buildings were built, there were R. A. camps and Succoth Conferences at the Baptist Village. These date back to 1954 when the R. A’s used a large hospital tent and the Baptists of Israel prayed in a succah (tabernacle). Later land was purchased and camp huts ware erected. The work of erecting these was done by a work camp group and Baptist Village workers. In 1965-66 the present dining hall was built. It is also used as the chapel for conferences, and as the home of the Baptist Village Congregation. With the closing of the school the dormitory rooms are now used year-round for conferences, meetings, rooms for volunteers, and rooms for other transients.
What About Now?
As you can read in our opening page, the Baptist Village is mainly involved with sports activities, conferences, camps, and education. While these things are the 4 pilars of the Baptist Village, many other things such as picnics, weddings, concerts....you name it, take place here. Look over this website and if you have any questions, just give us a call. You can see a slideshow of how things looked then and now by clicking here. If you are ever in our area stop by. We would love to give you a personal tour of our facility and grounds. For contact information, just click here.