The First Baptist Church of Fort Lupton will be celebrating 100-years of worship serving generations of families. “On March 14th following the regular service, there will be a small event …
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The First Baptist Church of Fort Lupton will be celebrating 100-years of worship serving generations of families.
“On March 14th following the regular service, there will be a small event commemorating 100 years of God’s work. A large celebration is planned for later in the year; however because of COVID-19 restrictions a date has not been set, said,” Kenneth Harnet member volunteer.
The church has historical significance with overwhelming commitment and planning by a congregation throughout the decades to continue its tradition of church services and community gatherings.
Baptist chapels in the 1890s were built inside railcars provided by Union Pacific Railroad. Chapel cars were designed differently than passenger rail cars at the time. It was constructed longer in diameter to accommodate living quarters for the minister and families as well as an extra room with an extended area for members to attend the church services.
A Chapel railcar was placed on the side of the train tracks in Fort Lupton in 1921. The community of Fort Lupton named the Chapel car Emmanuel.
“It was the second of six Chapel cars that were built for the American Baptist Publication Society in the 1890s and early 1900s,” said Harnett.
When the Chapel rail car arrived, Rev. Blinzinger and his family came to Fort Lupton to lead the church to preach the gospel message.
Harnett said, “his purpose for coming was to bring the message of God’s love and grace to the families in the town of Fort Lupton and the surrounding area.”
The news spread within the community about the Chapel and over thirty-one members started to attend Sunday Services. On March 13, 1921, is when the First Baptist Church of Fort Lupton was established.
From rail car to foundation
The Chapel moved from a rail car to a basement that was purchased on First and Mckinley with the help of a local bank. The basement was dug with shovels and several large horses pulling a slip and it was completed in December of 1921. It was the beginning of 100-years serving decades of members.
For many years the church services were held in the basement. Then in 1934, the upper part of the building was constructed which expanded for more room for Sunday service and a Fellowship Hall. During the school session, it provided extra space for the school to have use of a classroom.
The first annual Thanksgiving dinner was held at the church in 1943. Also, the church received money donations to maintain the church’s annual expenses. The farmers who work all year did not receive income for their work until late fall.
“Members had a real joy in getting together, enjoying a meal that brought extra special food prepared by loving hands of good cooks. Hearty laughter could always be heard in the church kitchen,” said Harnett.
The church continued to increase with members after World War II. Also, the Sunday school was growing too. The congregation needed to expand so there was an available house located north of the church. It was purchased for the additional classrooms. With members increasing the church needed more space.
Harnett said, “Three men offered to have an auction to sell whatever the members and others could donate to start a building fund for a new larger church. It was a success. The leaders of the church accepted the proposal but only when a site could be purchased without any debt.”
Every Thanksgiving the building fund continued to grow with money donations. Three years later, the leadership hired an architect to design a building constructed with a handicap accessible ramp on a property that was purchased on the corner of Rollie and State Highway 52.
The walls are raised
Church member John Martin accepted the contract. Martin’s employee and numerous church members when available helped with the building.
Harnett said there were two notable senior members Artie Schuyler and J.C Warner who were committed to working on the site every day. Warner hired Mr. Spurlin a carpenter who also worked on the construction.
“These men were visible and obvious, both were neither, but it seemed all were sacrificially involved from the oldest to the youngest,” said Harnett.
On June 13, 1976, the first wall was raised and connected to the foundation and on May 1, 1977, it was completed. The congregation had a celebration and parade with the remembrance of the old church and to honor the new church.
Rev. Tom Hiltsley and his wife Dee moved a time capsule from the old church that was placed into the rock wall of the new church. The time capsule is a metal box containing 100-years of significant documents and artifacts. It’s going to be opened on the church’s hundredth-day celebration.
“The culmination of the construction and the move to the new building was the service of dedication on October 27, 1977,” said Harnett.
The church has continued to grow through the decades offering community services, Sunday school for children, classes for adults, and seniors. Also, they teach vacation bible in summer and holiday programs such as scripture, drama, song, and dance.
As of January of 2012, First Baptist merged with Crossroads Church-God. The church will continue being involved with the community events such as the annual Easter egg hunt, trapper days, free chili day, and the Truck or Treat for Halloween.
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