FBC History

The History of First Baptist Church

Forgan, Oklahoma

 

Introduction

One hundred years ago, God instilled in the early settlers the need for them to rear their families in the fear and admonition of the Lord. Even before the establishment of the town of Forgan (1912), Bro. B. F. Mesnard and others saw the need of the church. When Bro. H.E. Cook came to visit Mrs. Cook’s mother, Mrs. Matilda Nash who was ill, Bro. Mesnard contacted him, and they made plans for Bro. Haley of Nara Visa, NM, to hold a revival in this area. As a result of the revival, the early settlers envisioned a place to worship God.

 

Organization of First Church

The Mt. Zion Baptist Church was organized on September 25, 1910, in the Harmony School which was located three miles north and one mile west of what is now the town of Forgan. The Harmony School was located on what was the Gene Grove Ranch and is now owned by the Jerald Radcliff family. A presbytery consisting of Chairman H.P. Haley, Elder H.E.Cook, and Elder J.W. Phillips (ordained ministers of the Missionary Baptist Church) presented and endorsed the Articles of Faith. The Church Covenant was read, and the presbytery extended them the hand of fellowship. The church was now a regular Missionary Baptist Church. The church elected Bro. B.F. Mesnard, Moderator, Pro Tem and Bro. J.W. Hughens, church clerk.

 

An invitation for membership was extended and four people presented themselves for membership – three by baptism and one by statement. On September 26, 1910, N.M. Nash, W.A. Head, and Lettie Head were baptized. Bro. G.H. Lindsay and his wife and sister Alva Barcus joined by letter. Bro. I.N. Cook and his wife were received for baptism at the evening services.

 

Bro. H.E. Cook was the first pastor of the church. He, his wife, and children traveled to Forgan in a covered wagon. He received a salary of $200 a year from the church. Since he had been a pastor of a church in Nara Visa, NM, and was serving as Home Missionary, employed by the Home Mission Board, Mt. Zion Baptist Church ask the Home Mission Board for $100 to help pay his salary. He received $75 every three months and was given some food and clothing. Their home was a half-dugout located five miles north of Forgan.

Bro. H.E. Cook resigned on September 2, 1911, and Bro. T.L. Ogilvie became the second pastor. The first trustees of the church were F.O. Nichols, B. F. Mesnard, and N.M. Nash. The church wrote a letter to petition membership with the Association. The Association met with the church and extended an invitation to join the organization on July 7, 1912.

 

Church of 1913

In June, 1912, the church members voted to move the membership to the town of Forgan and build a new place of worship. The appointed building committee consisted of B.F. Mesnard, chairman; W.R. Simmons, treasurer; Mr Hughens, pastorate, a new building was constructed in Forgan. Lumber was hauled by wagons from Liberal, Kansas, work was donated by various members. Wooden opera chairs were purchased and chairs from the old church were moved to the auditorium of the new church. On April 19, 1913, the name of the church was changed to Forgan Baptist Church. The church discontinued meeting at the Harmony School and moved to town. Since the new church was incomplete, services were held in a tent on the school ground and in Mrs. Ogilvie’s store. The church was completed in1913, and a celebration was held with 35 members present.

 

Youth Activities of the Early Church

F.O. Nichols, who was interested in every phase of the Baptist work, took his family to Falls Creek in 1918. Mr. and Mrs. Nichols and their four children traveled to Falls Creek in a Model T touring car, along with Mr. and Mrs. Gene Grove and their two children. At this time, there was only a tabernacle at Falls Creek, and the campers stayed in a tent.

 

During Truman Maxey’s pastorate (1931-1933) he took two members of the church to the State B.Y.P.U. Convention. Hazel Clifford competed in the memory verse contest, and Ivan Spalding sang a solo to those attending the Convention. Rev. Maxey also taught 44 fourth and fifth graders at the elementary school. He did this to supplement his salary of $24 per month.

 

The Floris Church united with the Forgan Baptist Church in 1945. Transferred members were Mr. & Mrs. W.T. Potter, charter members of the Floris Church; Mr. and Mrs. Henry Ausmus, Mrs. Russell Boates and family, Mr. & Mrs. Clifford Wakefield & family; Miss Letha Potter and Mr. Walter Fincher. During Rev. H.E. Cook’s second pastorate at Forgan, he suggested there was need for a larger building. Rev. Cook proposed the church start a building fund to aid in securing funds for a new building.

 

In 1947 the building fund had $2,500; the members initiated its plan for a new building. The building committee consisted of George Eagan, chairman; Russell Boates and Roy Sheets. The first concern of the building committee was finding a site suitable for building. Mr. and Mrs. Walt Cordes donated lots located on Main Street (present site). Then, members decided to make an effort to raise funds in order to start the new building. They decided to sell bonds, but few people were interested in purchasing them.

 

It was decided to borrow funds from the Baptist General Convention, but no funds were available. Rev. Maxey suggested borrowing from Mid-Continent Insurance Company. The insurance company agreed to loan the money, not to exceed $30,000. The treasurer of the company met with the members and explained the mechanics and requirements for the loan.

 

With the assurance of available funds, the building committee met and hired an architectural firm: Noftsger and Lawrence of Oklahoma City. Thus the building of a new church began. Bro. George Eagan owned a large bulldozer, and after a ground breaking ceremony (May 8, 1949), he started digging the basement. Volunteers workers donated their time and equipment to complete the basement and foundation.

 

As the work on the building progressed, it became evident more funds would be needed, so the loan was extended. Keith Heckart and Dick Radcliff secured signatures for the church note. At a monthly brotherhood meeting, Mr. W.J. Flanigan, a member was asked to sign the note; he declined. Instead he offered to donate $1,000. Keith and Dick decided to organize a $1,000 Club. Enough donations ankd pledges were collected making the need for a loan from the Insurance Company unnecessary.

 

The members waited in anticipation for the completion of the new building. The laying of the cornerstone was held on October 2, 1949. The last church services in the old building was held on January 15, 1950. The first service in the new building was the wedding of Miss Jeanne Lane and Mr. Merle Thurman. The first Sunday service was on January 22, 1950. Dedication of the new church was celebrated on March 5, 1950, with many former pastors in attendance. Rev. John J. Evans, former pastor preached the dedication sermon. The first people to be baptized in the new church building were Mr. and Mrs. Frank Cothron, Mrs. Pearl Ratliff, Carolyn (Nichols) Ritterbush, Mrs. Claude Andrew, Coral Lee (Butler) Rosser, Moderick League, and Phyllis (Mills) Farmer.

 

 

Construction of an Educational Building

In 1964 the deacons recommended that an educational building be added to the existing church. The appointed building committee consisted of Clifford Wakefield, chairman, Keith Heckart, Gene Nichols, Richard Phelps, and the pastor, (J.C. Neal). Members of the church did most of the carpentry work. The building was dedicated on July 31, 1966. A note burning on the educational addition was held in 1972. The basement of the church was remodeled in 1978; a dedication ceremony was held on May 20, 1979.

 

Seventy-fifth Anniversary

The church members celebrated the seventy-fifth anniversary on September 14, 1985. Former pastors and their wives shared memories with the congregation. Charter members and early members were recognized. Special music was performed by Don and Wanda Shuey and Wayne and Berniece Andrew.

 

Obeying the Great Commission

  1. the September 2009, business meeting, Bro. Paul Dickson reminded the members that was only one reason to build: The Great Commission. A line by line projected cost and the financing plan for the 42 x 80 ft. metal addition to the existing church was presented. The Building Planning Team made the motion to accept the architectural drawings to build the addition and remodel the existing facilities and to borrow up to $200,000 from the First Security Bank of Beaver, Ok. Richard Radcliff, on behalf of the Finance Committee, made the recommendation to direct and empower the Trustees of the church to borrow on behalf of the church the needed funds for building and remodeling. The Church received a Whole Heart Offering for the building fund on Sunday morning, October 11, 2009, in the amount of $19,077.06.

 

Remodeling and building was completed and the church’s 100-year anniversary and the dedication of the remodeled and new buildings was celebrated on September 11, 2010

 

To God be the Glory

All the heroes of faith both living and dead who have been a part of serving our great God in this church . . . for all the souls saved and lives changed . . . we collectively lift up our voices to loudly proclaim to God and God alone be all the glory through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen and amen!