Story of First Baptist Church
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lAYTNO TTTR CORNERSTONE FOR THE NEW FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH, OMAHA RESPONSIVE READINO WI11I.K T1ILJ WORKMEN LOWERED THE
TO ITS PLACE.-Photo by a Stuff Artist.
HE laying of a cornerstone by any
organization is always a most
important event, and one which,
makes a point in its histo.'y. end
ing one epoch und beginning an
other; an event standing forth In its past
aa significant as some monument placed on
the Held of a great battle. The First Baptist
church has reached a milestone in its his
tory, and Friday, January 15, laid the cor
nerstone, of the handsome new church that
is to rise at Twenty-ninth avenue and Har
ney street. This event brings back the his
tory of the church, which has grown from
the smallest struggling congregation to a
united and numerically strong body.
Tho First church Is the mother of all the
Baptist congregations in the city and had
Its beginning In 1835. Rev. Mr. Stephens
during that year gathered a few pioneers
of the faith and began a mission and Sun
day school at Fifteenth and Capitol avenue.
He continued in this work until 1857, and
there was no spiritual head to the little
mission until the fall of the following year,
when came Rev. G. W. Rarens. He went
during the next year and the work was
discontinued for several years, the Kansasj
Nebraska troubles and other political mat
ters having a bad effect on church work.
In 18C5 new arrivals and some of the old
members met In the courthouse and or
ganized the First Baptist church and a
mission Sunday school. None of the char
ter members are alive today.,
Services were conducted until 18C6 without
a pastor, and then came Rev. W. J. Ker
mott. Prosperity followed and the Omaha
association was formed. In 1817 at a direc
tors' meeting, at which Darius Pearce, W.
II. Churchill, Thomas Bonner and Watson
B. Smith were present, a church was de
cided on to be built at Fifteenth and Daven
port streets. It was to be of brick, 40x80
feet, two stories high and to cost $10,000. On
advice from Chicago the ground plan was
enlarged by one-half. A temporary frame
chapel was put up on the foundations for
use until tho building was finished, this
later being sold to the Scandinavian Bap
tist congregation. In 1870 the church be
came divided against Itself, and Rev. Mr.
Kermott resigned. The First church called
Rev. J. W. Daniels and the same year Rev.
J. T. Sunderland became leader of tho
branch, which was called the Tabernacle
Church. He felt that two churches were
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CROWD WATCHING THE EXERCISES AT HAVING OF THE CORNERSTONE OF
OMAHA. Photo by a Stiff Ar.lst. -
not needed, and, resigning, effected a recon
ciliation. During 1870 the church had many
accessions, but In tho following year Rev.
Mr. Daniels went to Cedar Rapids. From
that time until lS7ti the church made little
advance and hud the following pastors r.d
supplies fur its pulpit: E. C. M. Humhani.
J. II. Ruby, J. V. Donrelly, O. T. Conger.
I.loyd Moigan and H. K. Jameson. I'm'.er
the latter many strangers came to the
church and an attempt was m ule to pay off
Its del:t. J. V. Daniels being made u finan
cial acent in the eaft. Rev. J. V. Hun is
carr.e to the church In October of 1ST'), and
during his services the congregation trew
from 150 to 40i. In 1S85 the church became
free of debt, the building having ctFt -!3.000,
$j0,0O0 of which had been subscribed I y the
American Raptlst Home Missionary society.
The mlsKlonary spirit first began to grow
at this period and Rev. C. H. KeeU r be
came assistant pastor and a cliaix'l costing
$1,300 was built on Twenty-f.iurtli st e.n
near Cuming, and he was put li charge.
In 1886 Rev. F. A. Genius and otbers v.-eie
given letters to found the German Baptist
church und In November of the same yeir
forty-nine members In the Hanscnm park
district were given letters to found l'eth
Ktlen church. These put up the building on
Park nvenu? near Leavenworth, which li
the present home of the unite! conprojj.i
t Ion. In lCS'i letters wire given to members
who founded the First church In Council
Bluffs und in November of tho following
car forty-clj-ht members brand el off und
formed Culvary rurlKhlS being given tha
ehajcl on Twent y-fo art h street.
In Rev. Mr. Harris rcs'g; ej and was
followed by Eev. A. W. Lamar, who ie
malre.i until March, 1M2. Five thousind
dollars was stent In repairs. Dr. W. P.
lieUings c-ame during this yeur froai M 1
wuukiNV In IT 0 J members were jlven let
ters ti fou:al Grace church. Dcce.nber 4,
V'J, lh- church building was burned, being
a total loss. Insurance to the umount of
!U,n0) v.'us re -elved and Kerlccs conducted
In tho Young Men's Christian ussuclution
loomu for a yeur.
Finally lot. costing $7,ii0 at Thirty-fifth
and Furnum streets were Lought ur.d un oil
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ULTIMO THE CORNERSTONE O?" TUB FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH, OMAHA AFTER THE STONE WAS IN POSITION.
Photo by a Staff Artist
THE FIRST BAPTIST CHl'RCir.
building repaired at a cost of $.1,C0) mnre
as a temporary chapel. In 189,1 Bev. T. Lv
Ketman succeeded Rev. Mr. Il'i'H'ng At
this time the Idea' of urlling the First
church and Beth-Eden congregation urew
In favor and August 19, 189.1, a eomnvt'ea
was appointcd to meet with a committee
from tho other church. Rev. Mr. Ketman
resigned and the union of the two was
accomplished In the building of the Beth
Eden congregation October 2.", 1S9.1.
Gi lng back to 18X6 In November of wli.'ch
year Beth-Eden church wai authorized,
we find the new congiegatlon beginning
on the fourth of that month under' the
spiritual leadership of Rev. E. L. Ilouso,
who was followed in turn by Rev. R. E3.
Harris. The new church was fortunate In
its location, while the residence part of the
city rapidly drew uway from the First
church, the new brunch was In the best
part of tho new building district. Iaml
was purchased and the present church
building put up. Dr. I. D. Odell was the
third pastor of this half of the present
church, und Dr. W. W. Everetls tho f nirtli.
Finally Dr. Allcry was calbd and when tha
union came ho continued over the two
flocks. He was followed by the present
pastor, Rev. J. W. Conley.
In uniting the government of Beth-Eden
was continued and the name of the First
church. The agreement reached wus that
the property of tho latter tdiuuld be held
In a trust fund to be used toward a build
ing to be erected ut a point to be selected
by tho two congregations. The location
on Harney street is the result of this cotn
proiplse, being between the two old loca
tions. The First church had the lots at
Fifteenth und Davenport streets und ut
Twenty-fifth and Farnarn streets, with the
chupel studding on the latter. Tho Beth
Hden church owiu'd the two lots where the
church stunds, which had cost $10,000, and
in addition a small cottage. The Daven
port street property was sold und tho Far
liam street lots were given with a bonus
of $1,20 for the new location. There re
mained on band $:i,000 when the building
was begun, and tho church now In use,
which will be sold.
The new church, Including all furnishings,
is to cost $40,000, of whle li $31,000 Is now
available, leuving $12,000 to be raised. The
Structure bus been designed In the Italian
renuissunce by Architect John McDonald.
Its architectural features will be loulo
stone columns of which there are to bo six
on Bulk avenue, and pilasters, large art
glass windows at the sides, lighting the
auditorium and the Interior dome over tho
same with a skylight. Tho exterior will
be of gray pressed brick and Bedford utone.
The building will be over all 67 V4 by 102
(Continued on Page Sixteen.)
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