First Baptist Church celebrates Centennial

LUSK – The First Baptist Church was organized in July 1919 under the leadership of the Rev. Z.C. O’Farrell, a state missionary. Forty church members met in a tent that was set up in the vicinity of the current post office. Among the first church organizers were the Rev. A.B. Hood and the Rev. Carl Fisher.  Soon after the church was formed, church members, with the help of Rev. J.F. Blodgett, executive secretary of Wyoming, launched a building fund campaign. $11,000.00 was raised and with the aid of the American Baptist Home Missionary Society, the former Congregational Church edifice was purchased. The white, wood sided building had been built in 1887 for a cost of $1900.00. It was sold by the Congregationalists to D.C. Leach in 1919 and he sold the property to the Baptists. It stood where the present day Baptist Church stands. Rev Fisher donated his house to the church in 1926 for use as a parsonage. The house was moved and attached to the east end of the church, however, it was small and not large enough to house a pastor and his family.

During the first 5 decades of the church, outreach and growth were sustained by revival evangelistic meetings in addition to the regular preaching services and Sunday School. In more recent years the ministries have centered around worship, Sunday School and fellowship. Music and good hymn singing have always been a part of the congregation.

During May 1954, the first electronic organ was placed in the church. The organ was a memorial for Rev Clyde Hampton who had served the church as both a layman and a pastor. This Hammond organ was used by the church for 30 years. On April 15, 1984, a new $7000.00 Baldwin organ was installed in the church sanctuary with funding from an already existing memorial fund. Sadly, there is no longer an organ in the church.

After many years of getting along with the small parsonage accommodation that was an annex to the east end of the church building, the church undertook a parsonage project in 1951-52. A ranch house, located north of Shawnee, was purchased. This house was moved to Lusk and positioned on Barrett Blvd adjacent to Washington Park. Most of the work to compete the foundation and basement and refurnishing the parsonage was on a voluntary basis by members of the congregation.

In 1959 it was decided that the present church was no longer large enough for the congregation. Rev. Roger Koen led the new building program. On May 3, 1964, after a special mortgage burning ceremony, the new First Baptist Church of Lusk was dedicated, under the leadership of the Rev. C.W. Jervis.

In April of 1962 the membership of the church voted to build a new church. The new structure was built on the site of the present building at 3rd and Elm Streets and construction cost was estimated at $50,000.00. The new construction was brick veneer and of arch style. The previous building was the oldest Lusk church building at the time and one of the oldest buildings in Lusk.

In 1974, the congregation was able to purchase the property just south of and alongside the site of the Baptist church. A deal was completed on Oct 18, 1974. The newly acquired property consisted of a nice conventional two-bedroom house, and a much smaller 3 room dwelling located on the back part of the lot. The larger house was initially converted to Sunday School usage, but in late 1983 was established as the church parsonage. The parsonage on Barrett Blvd was sold in 1984. In 2005 a new building was purchased for Christian Education but was used as a parsonage. The two previous structures were demolished and hauled off.

Since 2011 the church has been updated with new windows, new signage, new carpet and the platform was opened up. Because of hail damage the church received a new roof and west windows. The parsonage has new siding and windows. In 2015 the church and parsonage served as the home base for the World Renew organization while they were in Lusk helping with rebuilding following the flood.

At the inception of the church in 1919, affiliation was with the Northern Baptist Convention. The name was changed to American Baptist Convention in 1950; the present name, American Baptist Churches in the USA was adopted in 1972. The local church is basically independent but holds to certain Baptist doctrines; the Bible in the foundation of belief, inspiration and validity of the Scriptures insisted upon, the Lordship of Christ, immortality and eternal life; the need of man’s redemption from sin. The ordinances are baptism and the Lord’s Supper. 

Thirty-five pastors have served at the Lusk Baptist Church during its 100 years of existence – 32 during the first 75 years and 3 since then with one being an associate pastor. These pastors include Rev B.F. Farrar and Rev. P.H. Evans who served during the depression years (1928-1943); Rev Ezra Duncan, who led the church in liquidating the debt on the church building (1946-1947); the Rev H.T. Clark who led 54 people into membership in the church (1948-1950). The present minister is Pastor Tom Strock who began his ministry with the church in 1997.


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