St. Francis church celebrates 150 years

Submitted by Dan Emery

First Baptist Church of St. Francis will celebrate its 150th anniversary with a special service and events March 16. The celebration begins at 9 a.m. with a coffee fellowship, followed by morning worship service at 10 a.m. A lasagna dinner will begin at noon. An afternoon worship service will be held at 1 p.m. All events are open to the public.

A history of the church has been compiled by member Dan Emery featuring writing by Helen Palm and Eunice Palm.

First Baptist Church of St. Francis dates back to March 15, 1864, when four members organized Oak Grove Baptist Church.

They met in the homes of the members and in the Oak Grove Schoolhouse. A church building was erected two miles south of St. Francis and was dedicated on June 30, 1872 as Oak Grove Baptist Church. Rev. J. B. Tuttle delivered the dedication sermon.

On Oct. 28, 1888 Rev. R. A. Shadick came to be the pastor of the Oak Grove Baptist Church. It was decided to provide a place for Shadick to live, to keep his horse and to supply him with firewood. After the first snow had fallen in the fall of 1893, the Oak Grove Baptist Church was put on runners for its journey through tamarack swamps, brooks and meadows to the village of St. Francis. John Woodbury had most kindly offered to give a lot free of charge on which to put the church. May 26, 1894, the name of the church was changed from the Oak Grove Baptist Church to the First Baptist Church of St. Francis. Later, a brick parsonage was built and other improvements made in 1903.

The 100th anniversary of this church was observed August 19-23, 1964. The evening of the Aug. 21 was Former Pastors Night featuring Pastors Arthur Giles, John Steffenson, Wesley Walker, Charles Warder and Harold Palmer. On the evening of Aug. 22 a banquet was served at the new elementary school in St. Francis. In the afternoon there was the dedication of a new parsonage.

The people of the church had felt the need for a new church building and facilities for a long time and since it was not possible to expand on the present property, five acres of land were purchased from Mr. and Mrs. Walter Lindeman in 1975. They generously donated one acre of land. Two more acres were purchased from George Anderson so that the property would go up to Highway 47. A groundbreaking ceremony was held May 15, 1977. The church was built and the first service was held August 14,1977. The bell from the tower in the old church building was removed and placed on the new property. The old church building was sold to the River of Life Church. That building has since burned down. Later that fall a new parsonage was built by the church.

The church had felt a deep need for Christian education for children, where their spiritual and academic welfare would be of greatest concern. After much prayer and discussion, the St. Francis Christian School was established. The first classes began in the fall of 1976, with children enrolled from kindergarten through grade 12.

Pastor Steve Brower is the current pastor at First Baptist Church of St. Francis. Visit or call 763-753-1230 for more information about the church and its anniversary celebration.

Dan Emery is a member of the First Baptist Church of St. Francis and is also part of the 150th anniversary committee. This article first appeared in The Courier.