The First Baptist Church of Council Grove was organized on Dec. 3, 1870, but meetings were not sustained on a regular basis. The Church was reorganized on Dec. 28, 1873 with 33 members under the leadership of Rev. Elihu Gunn, the secretary of the Kansas Baptist Convention. The church met in a school house at the corner of Main and 3ed (now Belfrey). The church was served by several temporary pastors. In 1884, the first church building (picture) was erected on the southeast side of the intersection of Union and Market streets, on lots now included in the Madonnna Park. The building was constructed by Deacon C. A. Towler, who was a brick mason.
That building was severely damaged by flood waters in 1903, with water reaching a height of eight feet in the building. The following year the congregation purchased land for a new building at 325 W. Main Street. Construction started in June 1905, the cornerstone was set in September 1909, but work was not completed until January 1913. The building cost was about $14,000 and would seat about 350. Later, the southwest corner was reconstructed to square up the building. At some point prior to 1939, the upper part of the northwest tower was removed.
By the 1990’s, it was determined that there was sufficient drainage and maintenance problems, the construction of the current building on Country Lane was started. Much of the construction of the new building were done by members of the congregation. Services in the current building started in September 1993. From the old building, several stained glass windows, the cornerstone, and some wood trim were removed and used in the new building. The building on Main Street was conveyed to the Council Grove Community center in May 1994, and is now used as the Bowers Community Center. It was stipulated that the old building would no longer be referenced as the First Baptist Church. However, in May 1995, the Main Street building was placed on the National Register of Historic places as the First Baptist Church.
John Bliss served as pastor and retired in October 1993. Rick Newbauer served for a few years, followed by interim pastors. Brad Cartmill was elected as pastor in October 2011.
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