Our History

A Look at the Past

When the seven original founding members of First Baptist Church of Lee’s Summit gathered on April 14, 1860 to organize themselves into a new church, they scarcely could have imagined the pilgrimage that this body of believers would make in the next century and a half.  Prevented from meeting during the Civil War due to the unrest, the church reported 45 members at the 1866 gathering of the Blue River Association.  Two years later it had built its first building, generously offering its use to other Christian groups when the Baptists weren’t meeting in it.  

By the turn of the 20th century, the resident church membership had grown to more than 250, prompting the decision to build a new sanctuary.  Construction on the “red brick church” (as it was known) began in 1903, being completed in 1904.  The coming of Earl Harding as pastor in 1942 marked a period of great growth for the church, despite the distractions of the war effort.  Harding’s resignation hadn’t even become officially effective when the church called Willard Bright to succeed him.  Dr. Bright’s twenty-seven and a half year ministry would mark the longest tenure of any pastor of First Baptist Church, and represented a high watermark for growth and expansion.  In addition to the large membership gains experienced, the church built a new educational building, a new sanctuary, and the present administrative building.  

The arrival of Wendell Page in 1982 as pastor effectively jump-started the church’s growth and expansion once more.  A commitment to long-term strategic planning resulted in the addition of new staff members to address multiple age group ministries.  The church also built its current sanctuary and converted the former worship center into a Family Life Center during Dr. Page’s pastorate.  

In recent years, missions has occupied center stage in the life of First Baptist Church, with teams of young and old alike engaging in disaster relief ministry, building projects, evangelistic outreach, choir trips, and leadership training events.  Sacrificial missions giving has also been the norm, with the church giving almost $200,000 to support the KidsHeart Africa project.  Faithful ministry to the Lee’s Summit community and beyond has been the hallmark of First Baptist Church’s first 150 years.

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