The name and location may have changed, but the mission of Great Bend’s Central Baptist Church has remained the same for 125 years. This Saturday and Sunday, a month-long celebration of the church’s quasquicentennial will culminate at the church, which has been located at Lakin and Harrison streets since 1964.
The church will have a hog feed at 6 p.m. Saturday, followed by videos, reminiscing and old-time games, said Nita Mohr from the quasquicentennial committee.
On Sunday, former Central Baptist minister Gordon Rhodes will deliver the morning worship service at 10:30 a.m. Members of the congregation will wear old-time clothes for the special service, and a 125-year certificate from the region will be presented. At noon there will be a catered lunch of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy and creamed corn from the Wheatland Café in Hudson.
After lunch there will be an old-time “singspiration” with the Rev. Joni Harrington, the present pastor of the congregation. The quasquicentennial committee, which also includes Kathie Sharp, Bart Hoar, Rita Roblyer and Virginia Sharp, will show videos of church history and there will be more time for reminiscing.
Invitations were sent to old and new members and to area churches, but everyone is invited, Mohr said. “Come see our 125 years of service to the Lord.”
The theme of the quasquicentennial is the same one that was adopted in 1987 at the 100th anniversary: Ever Onward With Christ.
Members of Central Baptist kicked off a month-long celebration on March 24 with a balloon launch. Since then, there have been banners in front of the church and every week a “moment in history” has been shared during morning worship. Old Sunday school literature, bibles, the original charter and historic photos have been on display in the church’s halls and rooms.
On April 24, 1887, the church was chartered with 16 members – nine women and seven men. Church historians note that over the years the church has had six different names. It started as the First Regular Baptist Church in a building at Lakin and Baker. In the early 1900s a brick church was built around the original structure, which as later known as Baker Avenue Church. Today, that building houses the Church of God.
In 1964 the church finished the new building at Lakin and Harrison. “Even though we have had many ministers, the church held strong to their faith and continued on for the 125 years,” Mohr said. “Filling the large church was hard at times but with faith they never gave up.” Some of today’s members represent the third, fourth and fifth generations in the church.