On Sunday, April 26, 2015, First Baptist Church of Morris celebrated its 60th Anniversary with special services to recount God’s faithfulness through the years. One hundred and sixteen people, including three former pastors, joined in the celebration representing six decades of the church’s existence.
The 60th Anniversary Celebration began with a Memories Slideshow and Testimonies. Beverly Bartell of Cyrus and Marge Wheeler of Morris shared highlights from their over 50 years as members of First Baptist Church. Several others joined in recalling the earliest days when the church met in the La Grand Hotel before purchasing a home at 601 Lyndale Avenue. Former UM-Morris Professor, Dr. Bill Tomhave, Joyce Werth, Allen Gustafson, Dennis & Karen Osborne, and Marilyn Bober were among others who gave testimony of the influence of the church on their lives and families.
The church choir opened the Morning Worship Service with an Anita Cox arrangement of “Be Strong in the Lord” and a reading of First Baptist Church’s History by current pastor, Micah Tanis. One of the highlights of the day was hearing from three former pastors, Ray Pratt, Curly Werth, and Mike Forsberg.
Pastor Ray Pratt, shepherded First Baptist Church (1965-1967) before becoming a professor at Pillsbury Baptist Bible College (Owatonna, MN) and Baptist Bible College (PA). Pastor Pratt brought a challenge from Paul's greetings to the church in Corinth & Ephesus, reminding the congregation that God gives grace, goodness, and guidance. It was a particular blessing to hear Pastor Pratt draw out numerous connections of former pastors and church members who are continuing in gospel ministry around the world.
Pastor Curly Werth served as Pastor (1971-1990) and oversaw the building of the current auditorium and launched the Morris Baptist Academy in 1978. Pastor Werth encouraged the church to say with Abraham's servant, "I being in the way, the LORD led me” (Genesis 24:27).
Pastor Mike Forsberg came to Morris in 1995, serving for two years as pastor, and baptizing many of the current members at a church family lakeside property. Pastor Forsberg encouraged the church from Psalm 119:89-96 in that "God's faithfulness continues through all generations.”
Following the morning service, an all-church picture was taken in front of the building and the congregation and guests enjoyed a lasagna fellowship dinner.
The afternoon service began with “The Little Brown Church” sung by the choir and closed with Pastor Micah Tanis charging the congregation to continue faithfully serving the community through living like Christ.
The 60th Anniversary Celebration also included an All-Class Reunion of the Morris Baptist Academy on Saturday, April 25th. Morris Baptist Academy was a ministry of the church from 1978 through 1997, offering classes from Kindergarten through High School. Over one hundred and twenty friends, alumni, and teachers of MBA enjoyed the fellowship and memories.
Special thanks to the Stevens County Historical Society for assistance in locating articles relative to the church's history. Pictures from the MBA All-Class Reunion and FBC’s 60th Anniversary are available on the church’s website at www.morrisfbc.org.