Good Morning Pioneer Baptist!
It was one of those hard plastic signs that stick on to places of your choice with the message of your choice. It could be your name, or your title, and it might be on your door or your file cabinet. For Rev. Fred Neidy, it was attached right on his pulpit where whoever was standing at his pulpit couldn’t possibly miss it.
It said “Sir, we would see Jesus.”
Fred Neidy was the pastor of the South Side Baptist Church of Springfield, Missouri, and the words of that sign were taken from John 12:21. In John 12, the story is told of certain Greeks of the Jewish faith who had come to Jerusalem to worship at the Passover, and they came to the Apostle Philip, and said “Sir, we would see Jesus.”
Now, South Side Baptist Church was not to be confused with the mega churches of today, nor was it listed in 1972 among Elmer Towns’ “America’s Fastest Growing Churches.” And Pastor Fred Neidy was not some whirlwind ball of fire on a mission to be the next Billy Sunday. No, South Side Baptist Church was a simple King James Bible believing church consisting of a wonderful group of Christians, with a Pastor leading the flock who was determined to humbly serve his Saviour and to teach his congregants to do the same. Yes, Fred Neidy could “hoe corn” (that’s fundamentalist-speak for being a great pulpiteer) and he knew the Bible inside-out and was a tremendous Bible teacher.
But the trademark of the man was making sure that others would “see Jesus.” I was blessed to be a member there from 1978-1981. One day, when I was headed out to the boondocks to Hopewell Baptist Church to supply the pulpit, Pastor told me, “Give them Jesus. You can do no better than that.” He also said that there was a time in Springfield when, if you wanted to know how to fight Communism, you would be sent to talk to Fred Neidy. But he told me that any Christian mission other than Jesus would “leave you dry.” I looked on-line, and the baptismal area of the church is still as beautiful as ever with its color scheme and elaborate columns adorning it, but what stands out to me are the dominant words that Pastor had placed high atop, proudly stating “Salvation is in Christ Jesus.” Before my arrival at South Side, Fred (I guess in a remodel) made an impressive office upstairs, but when I was there, his office was back downstairs, close to the front entrance and adjacent to the sanctuary. I asked him about it and he told me that he didn’t like the “Ivory Tower” impression that the upstairs office gave off.
It wasn’t just a sign, it was a statement of purpose. It wasn’t just a clever slogan, it was Pastor Fred Neidy’s covenant and heart’s desire to exalt Jesus Christ and to assist all seekers to see the One Who Pastor oftentimes referred to as “Our Lovely LORD Jesus.” Nobody did it any more sincerely than Fred Neidy.
“Sir, we would see Jesus.”
Love to all,