The congregation at Minot's First Baptist Church will be celebrating its 125th anniversary the weekend of Aug. 3 and 4. Dedicated to "generations of ministering," planning commission member Glen Stevens explained the event will include an open house, several speakers, a Saturday night banquet and a Sunday afternoon picnic.
"Our mission was to win, build and send," he explained, describing the numerous missions their church supports both domestically and abroad. Suitably, Stevens said that "our theme was a recognition of the people who attended church and went into full time ministry."
"A number of us knew it was coming," he added, referring to the church's approaching milestone. About two years ago the date was discussed by various church elders, and it was decided that it would be a good opportunity to reunite its extended spiritual family. "From that the elders decided to get a committee together," he went on to say. Five members were chosen to organize, including Stevens, Marlys Orluck and "Mitt" Mittelberg.
The ruddy brick facade of Minot’s First Baptist Church basks in the sunlight Thursday afternoon. Though the Third Street Southwest facility is 64 years old, the church itself has been a facet of the city since 1888, first sited at the current location of downtown’s Big M building. The congregation will be celebrating its 125th anniversary the weekend of Aug. 3 and 4 with guest speakers, an open house, banquet and afternoon picnic.
So far, they have arranged to hold a Saturday afternoon open house at the church, followed by a catered evening banquet at the Grand Hotel on North Broadway. The guest speaker for the event will be Glen Stevens Jr., a former parishioner and now the senior pastor at Salem Evangelical Free Church in Fargo. On Sunday there will be a special morning service, with guest speaker Mark Mittelberg, also a former parishioner as well as an evangelical author, speaker and apologist based in Denver, Colo. Afterward there will be a picnic lunch at the Scandinavian Heritage Center park.
In addition, Orluck said, "We're hoping to have a float for the State Fair Parade" a couple of weeks prior.
Although the church had marked its 115th anniversary, its last comparably large celebration was in 1988, for its centennial. Orluck said it had been marked by some of its former pastors being honored, plus the burning of the church mortgage. "I joined in 1960," she said, going on to explain that she had attended for some time before that.
Founded in 1888, only two years after the city's first tents were hoisted and a year
before North Dakota became a state, the church was begun by Baptist missionary Rev. George Huntley with three families. Seven generations later, today First Baptist enjoys a regular attendance of more than 500. Originally sited where downtown's Big M building stands, the church moved to its present location at 200-3rd Street Southwest in the spring of 1959.
"This was known as Third Street, and it was a red-light district," said Orluck. With the church focused on missions work, the new building's location was originally conceived as an outreach to the neighborhood, but by the time of its actual construction the area had long since cleaned itself up. Sixty-four years later, the church's facilities have about been outgrown by First Baptist's parishioners.
"We have land south of the Y(MCA)," Orluck said, some acreage that the church has owned for about twelve years. A relocation task force is currently exploring the feasibility of either constructing a larger facility there or starting up another branch. "We've grown to the place where we need to make some decisions."
A church cookbook celebrating the anniversary is available at both the information desk and office. By popular demand, this colorful culinary compendium is a reprisal of First Baptist's 100th Anniversary cookbook, with additional recipes. "Most of the old cookbook is in here," explained Orluck, but with the additional recipes and a brief history of First Baptist. "We're selling them for cost," she added, at $6.
The PDF files for the RSVP form and letter of invitation can be found at (firstbaptist-minot.org), under the "125th Anniversary" tab of the home menu. The Saturday evening banquet will cost $15 per person, while Sunday's picnic will be taking a free-will offering. Tickets for the banquet can be picked up at the church's open house that Saturday afternoon between 2 and 4 p.m., or else at the Grand Hotel. The RSVP will be due about a week before the event, though Orluck was reticent to put too fine a time on the deadline.
With temporary lodging in Minot running at a premium, the church is offering to host visitors who need a place to stay. Volunteers interesting in hosting can contact the church office at 852-4533, or inquire by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. First Baptist has also reserved a block of rooms at the Grand Hotel and Hampton Inn, the details of renting one being described in the invitation letter available online.