MARIETTA — During the 20-year pastorate of Clark Hutchinson at Eastside Baptist Church in Marietta, the church experienced phenomenal growth. The church became known as “Excited Eastside.”
Evangelist Bailey Smith, who has seen multiplied thousands come to Christ during his ministry, has stated on several occasions that the greatest church revival he experienced in his ministry was at Eastside when Hutchinson was pastor.
Jack Price, evangelistic singer, has stated that during the Hutchinson era the Eastside music ministry, under the direction of Billy Jack Green, was one of the top three such ministries in the Southern Baptist Convention.
During his ministry Hutchinson led the church to construct a state-of-the-arts Christian Activities Center that became the standard for other churches to emulate. On Sunday, Oct. 8, at 3 p.m. the church had a recognition service in which they “rededicated” and “renamed” the Christian Activities Center to the “Clark and Josephine Hutchinson Center.”
Current Eastside Pastor John Hull indicated that the nickname for the facility would be “The Hutch.” The center was completed in 1987. It continues to serve the church, Eastside Christian School and the community.
“The Hutch” has recently gone through a facelift and modernization phase; and the final touch will be the installation of new flooring scheduled for January.
‘Visionary and bold leadership’
There were approximately 350 people present for the renaming of the Christian Life Center, including current Eastside members who were also members during Hutchinson’s pastorate, former church members, former staff members, and members of the Hutchinson family.
Pastor Hull presided over the dedication and explained that the Hutchinsons came to Eastside in 1973 when the church was only 12 years old with a membership of 1,300 and a staff of about 20. Hull stated, “By the Hutchinson’s 15th anniversary at Eastside the church had baptized 3,000 new converts. By the 1990s the church had become one of the model churches in the SBC and had grown to a membership of over 6,000.
“In 1981, the Hutchinsons helped launch Eastside Christian School,” added Hull. “The founding of the school was another indication of Clark’s visionary and a bold leadership.
“What a joy it is to celebrate the Hutchinsons today and how wonderful it is to name this building after them. Clark was an amazing leader and his legacy still lives on at Eastside, not only in the naming of The Hutchinson Center, but in the daily purpose of Eastside – to reach men and women with the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Nelson Price, former pastor of Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta and the one who recommended Hutchinson to the Eastside search committee in 1973, praised the honoree for his leadership.
Charles Sineath, former pastor of First Methodist Church in Marietta and a contemporary of Hutchinson, offered a dedicatory prayer, expressing thanksgiving for the faithfulness of Clark and Josephine.
Babbie Mason, former Eastside member and Christian recording artist who was encouraged by Hutchinson to launch a professional singing career in the 1980s, sang for the dedication.
Steve Robinson, former chief marketing officer of Chick-fil-A, brought remarks as to how Clark challenged him to be a generous giver. Robinson was the chair for the capital stewardship campaign to raise funds for the Hutchinson Center.
In response to the dedication, Hutchinson remarked, “We are very honored by this and thank Dr. Hull for his leadership in putting this together. Not too long ago I became quite ill. While I’ve recovered, I’m so glad I got to experience this day. Our years of growth here were phenomenal. The Lord really blessed.”
It was a fitting dedicatory service for a deserving Clark and Josephine Hutchinson.