Baptists living in Nokomis and vicinity formed the first Baptist church on May 24, 1856, when a group of three men and five women organized themselves into a “Missionary Baptist Church,” later to be known as the “First Baptist Church of Nokomis.” As more families moved into the community, those of like faith allied themselves to the group, either by baptism or transfer from other churches.
The First Baptist church is affiliated with the American Baptist Convention.
For fourteen years the members held worship services in a schoolhouse or in sister churches. Their first house of worship was dedicated in 1870. It was erected on a lot at the corner of S. Spruce and E. Union Streets, opposite the city park. In 1907 the building was moved to its present location on South Maple Street. Extensive remodeling and enlarging have been made since then to accommodate the growing need for Sunday School classrooms. Recent improvements consist of interior decoration, new lights in the auditorium and new choir and dossal curtains.
In 1910 a parsonage was built adjoining the church, which served as the pastor’s residence until 1954, when the church acquired the property at 101 West South Street, the home of the present pastor. At that time the former parsonage was completely remodeled as an educational unit, making accommodations for 13 class rooms, with some of these convertible as assembly areas.
Active organizations of the church include its Sunday School of 20 classes; the Women’s Mission Society; Baptist Youth Fellowship; Pioneer Girls; Christian Service Brigade, and several organized Sunday School classes which meet socially once a month. An adult choir and a youth choir give their services in providing special music regularly in the worship services.
The church has been served by 38 ministers, with varying length of terms as pastor. A number of these served as supply while continuing their preparation for the ministry. Six pastors have been ordained during their pastorate of the First Baptist Church of Nokomis. The first ordination was that of Rev. James M. Stifler, May 22, 1869.
The Rev. B. Lawrence Sweeney, present pastor, began his ministry in this church in 1952 when he was graduated and ordained at Northern Baptist Seminary. Each year of his pastorate has seen the addition of new members, the roll at present being nearly 300 members.
The church observed its Centennial in May of this year by holding special services with outstanding leaders of the denomination from the State Convention and others participating in the program, making the occasion an outstanding milestone in the history of the church.
Mrs. John F. Johnson, Historian
Taken from the Nokomis Centennial Booklet 1856-1956