Submitted by Shirley Palmer, June 19
Excitement is in the air in Fort Scott, Kan., as the First Baptist Church, 123 Scott, Fort Scott, Kan., will soon be celebrating their 150th anniversary.
On Saturday evening, July 2, beginning at 6 p.m. in Fellowship Hall, will be an “Evening of Elegance Gala – Down Memory Lane” banquet complete with professional dinner music and program to follow. Many special memories will be shared. The banquet is free as it is being provided by anonymous members of the church. Reservations may be made by calling the church office, 620-223- 3080 by June 27th.
Sunday morning, July 3, beginning at 10:30 a.m. will be a special celebration worship service. Dr. John S. Williams, Executive Minister, American Baptist Churches of the Central Region, will bring the morning message. Following the worship service the time capsule will be opened and an old-fashioned carry-in (pot luck) lunch will be served in Fellowship Hall.
Beginning at 5 p.m. July 3, at Shelter House Number 6, Gunn Park, a special evening church service will be held in memory of one of our former early pastors, Pastor Elihu Gunn. (Gunn Park was named after this special preacher.) An old-fashioned, home-made ice cream and watermelon social will be enjoyed, with special testimonies and the singing together of many “old time” hymns.
The Church history goes back to an earlier date of 1862. It was not officially organized until 1866, when a group of people met with a membership of 52 people starting the church.
Following the Civil War, times were difficult. Previous settlers in Fort Scott had endured much hardship. People came from all directions to Fort Scott. They came by covered wagons, horseback, trains and some even came on foot.
Israel Harris was called on February 18, 1866, to be the first pastor. Meetings were held in the upper story of the Bourbon County Courthouse at the corner of 2nd and National, which is the present site of the public library. On October 10, 1866, lots were conveyed to the Church as a building site.
In 1876, Elihu Gunn was called as an early pastor of the church. Pastor Gunn played a significant part in the history of not only the church, but the community of Fort Scott as well as the state of Kansas.
Through the past 150 years, the church has welcomed 39 different pastors. Currently, the church is in search of a new pastor and has an interim pastor, Rev. Dr. Howard Cassidy-Moffatt, from Topeka, Kan.
A lot has changed over the years. During the struggles, hardships, financial weakness and problems, the central theme of the church – evangelism – runs like a bright golden thread—never broken, never dimmed. From the past to the present, the church has always supported missions and has been a nice place where people worship God.
The 150th celebration committee includes Shirley Palmer, chairperson; Edith Peterson, Connie Conroy, Elsie Fly and Rhonda Allen.