Our Church History
The First Baptist Church of Sturgis was organized on December 6, 1888, in the OddFellows Hall, located on the second floor of the corner building on Adams and Sixth Street.
There were thirteen charter members: Elder J. B. Haynes, Lucinda Haynes, Sue B. Haynes, H. F. Oliver, J. H. Tichnor, V. H, Smith, Lucinda Smith, Cattie Withers, Grace Price, Hugh Hammock, G. I. Dial, Ellen Dial, and D. S. Carr. Each of these transferred letters from nearby Baptist churches.
R. B. Haynes was elected to serve as the first pastor of the new congregation, having services just once a month. Rev. Haynes served FBC Sturgis for about one year. He was one of the pioneer preachers in this area. Rev. Haynes has descendants in our church today: Mrs. Mary Johnson Springer and her daughters, Mrs. Bobby Springer Byrnes and Mrs. Nancy Springer Haire.
In 1889, the church reported 23 members with $100 a year set aside for the pastor’s salary.
T. A. Conway succeeded Bro. R. B. Haynes and began his pastorate in January 1890. The lot for the church building was donated in April 1890 by Colonel Jordan Giles, a founder of the city of Sturgis. The first church building was erected and completed in the summer of 1890 but was not dedicated until May of 1891. The building once stood where our current sanctuary resides.
Five years later, 1894, records show the church had grown to 81 members and had 74 enrolled in Sunday School.
During the next pastorate of J. H. Spurlin, all the church records were destroyed. But, it is known that Bro. Spurlin left the church pastorate in May of 1902.
January of 1903, H. C. Hopewell became pastor and began to have two services a month. During this time during a church revival two hundred professions of faith were made with 111 of these coming into FBC Sturgis by baptism. Repairs were completed on the church building: benches stained, new carpet made and installed, new coal house finished, wainscoating cleanded, painted, furniture polished all at a cost of $86.
In 1904, the records show the church had grown to 234. It also reported that $100 was collected and distributed to various missionaries at home and overseas.
In 1908, Bro. J. C. Midyett, then president of the Ohio Valley College, was called as pastor and asked to begin his work immediately.
The church entered 1915 with 345 members. On June 1915, dedication services were held in the new white brick building. The had 273 members in 1917 with 298 enrolled in Sunday School. The church was greatly affected during 1918 due to WWI and the flu epidemic. In 1920 the church called O. W. Taylor as the first full time pastor with a salary of $2,000 per year. In march of the same year a committee was appointed to find a suitable home for the pastor and his family. The church purchased the Omer property on Main Street. In July, water was put in the pastor’s home, and in 1922, sidewalks were poured.
A revival was held that year led by Bro. J. C. Lilly of Fredonia with 85 additions to the church. During the annual business meeting, December 10, 1924, the budget system of finance was adopted. The budget was set at $75 and was divided as follows: 50% for missions and benevolence, 40% for local current expenses, and 10% on the pastor’s home debt.
O. W. Taylor resigned in May of 1926, after serving the church for over six years. The church grew under his leadership from 325 to 530 members.
Dr. Roy Mason was called as pastor in August 1926. He resigned in January of 1928, by vote of the church.
Bro. F. B. Masters was called as pastor and served from 1928-1931. In 1930, there were 583 on the church roll with 502 enrolled in Sunday School. Total gifts given to missions were $1,452.65.
J. W. Billis followed Bro. Masters. He pastored FBC Sturgis from 1931 – 1934. During his tenure there was a division in the church, resulting in his resignation.
Rev. Ernest Miller became pastor from 1934 until his death in December of 1943. The church grew and progressed during his pastorate. The Sunday School and B. T. U were upgraded. The 50th year anniversary of the church was celebrated, a new organ was purchased for the church. The yearly Associational report of 1940 showed the Sunday School enrollment of 361 with an average attendance of 147. The pastor’s salary was $1,300 annually.
Rev. C. L. Nicely was called as pastor in February of 1944 and pastored for two and a half years. Bro. Nicely resigned in October of 1946.
Rev. James T. Ford followed Rev. Nicely. Dottie Lane, who later became a missionary to Japan, and who we have a special Associational Offering named in her honor, served as church secretary while home for the summer from college. A standard Sunday School and church budget were proposed. A library was established. A special drive in April 1947, for the purchase of the Dr. Carr property resulted in the purchase of a lot on the north side of the present church building. The membership totaled 668, enrolled in Sunday School 389; contributed to missions $5,112,62.
Rev. I. L. Baughn became pastor in January 1949. The church experienced great growth under his leadership. The building fund by January 1950 had reached $14,669.00, and they secured an architect to make plans for a new educational building to be built on the lot purchased during the pastorate of J. T. Ford. The ground breaking for the construction the Educational Building was on May 1st, 1950. The building was occupied May 6, 1951. The building was dedicated on Sunday, October 5th, 1952. The membership was 670. Sunday School enrollment grew to 530 with an attendance of 327. Bro. Baughn resigned August 29, 1954.
Rev. H. K. Sorrell was called as pastor January 6, 1955. The church reported a total membership of 680 and Sunday School enrollment of 578. The note was paid on the Educational Building and a note burning was held. Bro. Sorrell resigned, November 6th, 1958.
Rev. Truett Miller was called as pastor on December 28th, 1958. Neil Travis became Music Director in 1959. In July, the Shell Station lot was purchased for $7,000 for the building of a parsonage. A parsonage was built on the lot purchased for that purpose and the old parsonage was sold. Bro. Miller resigned in November of 1960. Neal Travis resigned November 1, 1960 as Minister of Music.
Rev. Curtis Warf was called to be the pastor on February 16, 1961. The new brick parsonage was completed and dedicated in November of 1962, located at 825 N. Adams Street, the current address of Bro. Shane & Jenni.
In July of 1967 the total membership of the church was 718, with 518 in Sunday School.
On June 14, 1964, the church met and voted to build an additional Educational Building to go beside the current Educational Building. They also discussed the building of a new sanctuary. The cornerstone for the new Educational Building was laid during an elaborate ceremony on Sunday, May 2, 1965.
Don Whitis became Director of Music in December 1966.
During 1969 – 1970 the old Sanctuary building was demolished and torn down for preparation of a new sanctuary. The resident membership was 537, non-resident membership was 221 and Sunday School enrollment was 373. There were two worship services being held each Sunday morning in the Fellowship Hall while demolition and construction were underway.
Rev. Bill Whittaker became pastor on October 1, 1969. He did a wonderful job coordinating the building of the new sanctuary. Formal dedication services were held on Sunday morning, March 28, 1971 for the new sanctuary. The old white brick sanctuary had been torn down and replaces with a modern brick building, that featured a steeple and a balcony in the main auditorium, with a seating capacity of about 550 people. The church also dedicated the Allen organ donated in memory of Robert Holt by his family.
In 1972, Rev. Barry Blakeman became Associate Minister and Director of Music and served the church for six and a half years.
Rev. Brodie Ambrose became pastor in May of 1976. The note burning for the debt on the new sanctuary was held on August 5, 1979.
Kelly Beaver came to the church as Minister of Music and Youth in 1981.
The membership in 1988 was 455, 144 non-resident members and an enrollment of 415 in Sunday School.
Brodie Ambrose resigned in April 1989.
Eddie Bennett was called as pastor in December 1989 and served until June of 1992.
Bill Jones became pastor in June of 1993 and was asked to resign in May of 1997.
Don Phelps became pastor in June of 1998. During Bro. Don’s tenure, the church went through a time of healing and Bro. Don was able to see the completion of a Family Life Center completed and dedicated in February of 2012. Kelly Beaver retired as Minister of Music and Youth in April of 2011. Bro. Jeff Hesley came to the church as the Minister of Music and Youth in February 2012. Bro. Jeff resigned as Associate Pastor/Minister of Music and Youth November 5th, 2017. Bro. Don retired from the ministry in October of 2012.