Sunday, March 18, First Baptist Church of Bellevue will be having special Sunday services and celebrations to mark the 175th anniversary of their ministry in Bellevue. While the services will be at the same 8:30 and 11 a.m. times, there will also be an open house from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. for congregants and visitors to fellowship and see firsthand the many stages and periods of the church’s history.
Former pastor William Burns will be joining the First Baptist fellowship on March 18 to share the message, a role in which he also participated during the church’s 150th anniversary in 1993. The 1993 anniversary was also the first year of current pastor Don Francis’ ministry with First Baptist of Bellevue, and 25 years later he marvels at the strides the church has made.
First Baptist Church of Bellevue, an independent Baptist church, was first founded by five people, three women and two men. The church gathered for some time in homes, and even other churches in the area. At one time First Baptist worshipped in the local Methodist church, and when the Methodist church burned First Baptist opened its doors so the Methodist congregation. In 1866 the first church building was made, and in 1911 was remodeled and rededicated. Since the first building was made the church has made various updates and remodels to accommodate a growing ministry. The location of the current church is still the site of the first church.
On March 18 various displays of church history, former directories, and photos will be available for viewing. And as any good Baptist congregation would have it, there will be plenty of food, including cake and ice cream.
175 years of ministry is a long time, and First Baptist of Bellevue wants to honor the history of the ministry, outreach, and community involvement. At the same time, in Francis’ eyes, the anniversary is simply a brief moment of celebration on a long path forward. He doesn’t want to take away from where the church is currently, or where it’s headed in the next few years.
“It’s a testimony to the faithfulness of God,” said Francis. “With that base we have a bright future ahead.”
Francis attributes First Baptist Bellevue’s longevity and flourishing to two primary points: consistency of the congregation, and the preaching of the Bible. As Bellevue has noticeably changed over the last several decades, the gathering of people has changed little in his view. People are still in need of a place to worship.
“We have a lot of stability. There’s a lot of people who have been here the 25 years I’ve been here and more,” said Francis. “We have a lot of people here committed to the ministry, and that’s a great thing.”
But the church doesn’t move forward solely by the people who have been there a long time. First Baptist of Bellevue has continued its outreach by growing outside its walls, especially with the addition of the North End, a new teen center and gathering space just down the street. Francis didn’t know where the church go when he came to Bellevue 25 years ago as the 30th pastor of the church, but he’s pleased with its progress and the hope of continued growth in the future.
To learn more about First Baptist Church of Bellevue, or the March 18 anniversary celebration, readers can visit bellevuefbc.org, or call (269) 763-9247.