First Baptist Church of Siloam Springs will celebrate its 150th anniversary this weekend with a bonfire and cookout on Saturday night and a special church service on Sunday.
The church was founded in the late summer or early fall of 1868 by a group of believers who met in the Key Stone Lodge, located in the Hico Community, according to a church history book, published by the Rev. Bill Bruster in 1972, commemorating the church's first 100 years. A list of 10 church members from the Chesney, Osborn, Teague, Monroe and Stamps families, led by organizer and pastor J.F. Mitchell, signed a covenant, articles of faith and constitution. The documents were officially approved by the Winfield Presbytery on Sept. 28, 1968, the book states.
Over the years, church has held services in several buildings. One of the first church buildings was constructed in 1889, and another milestone was reached with the completion of a church building in 1902 at the corner of Broadway Street and Ashley Streets. It was replaced by larger buildings at the same address over the years, until 1997 when the church was moved to its current location at 2000 Dawn Hill Road.
Pastor Steve Abbott said there will be a bonfire and cookout starting at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday night. The event will include bouncy houses and a petting zoo for children.
The celebration will continue during church service on Sunday with a special presentation by the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. A lunch will be held after church, which will include a brief program with letters and video messages from former pastors, and a video featuring children's questions with answers from senior members. The Louie Thomas Missionary fund will also be presented during the program.
"Our theme for the 150th is celebrating the past and anticipating the future," Abbott said. "I think we want to really strike that balance of celebrating all that God has done and being thankful for the many people who have contributed to the growth and success of the church over the years but also realizing we're in a position where we're looking to the future, to grow and to discover new ways to minister and reach people in this community with the gospel."
One of the church's characteristics has been to find new ways to reach the community as the culture changed while still focusing on the same message, Abbott said. Church leaders recognized that what worked in the 1940s didn't work in the 1970s, and what worked in the 1970s doesn't necessarily work today.
"The message is the same but methods have to change," he said. "Sometimes that's easier than other times, but I think the church is here over 150 years because they have been able to recognize and make those changes. That's why we're still here."General News on 10/31/2018
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