Members of the East Sedalia Baptist Church History Committee have a “heart” for their neighborhood and have compiled a 40-year history of the church in a book titled “The Vision Continues, 1975-2015.”
Don Morton, 81, the history committee chair, along with member Rebecca Carver, 88, compiled the information while member Pat McMullin, 76, wrote the book. Morton’s late wife Deloris, who died last fall, was also on the committee.
“We all four read all the minutes and made notes,” McMullin said. “We got together and decided what was important. My idea was not to be the author, I just sat down and started writing it and sending it to them asking for their opinion.”
The trio said the church was built in 1875 and celebrated its 140th anniversary in March 2015. The four began working on the book in 2012 and spent more than a year going through boxes of church records organizing 40 years of information.
“When we first started this in ‘12 we spent the first 18 months cleaning up records and there were a lot of things that had to be gotten rid of,” McMullin said.
Morton said the committee had several purposes in writing the book: cleaning up the records, compiling the history and preserving the records.
Morton, who was the Sedalia Public Library Librarian for 32 years, wrote the first book of history for the church, “The First One Hundred Years, 1875-1975,” finishing it in early 1976.
Morton worked on the first book through the death of his father, the death of his brother, finding out his wife had cancer and while he had a kidney stone.
“This all was in an eight- or nine-month period,” he said. “I was trying to write it through all of that.”
Carver said the second book picks up the church history where the first book ended.
Compiling the information may have been easier for the four members than for others, because all are long-time members of East Sedalia Baptist.
“I’m a newcomer,” Morton joked while at the church Wednesday. “I’ve only been here, let’s see … 64 years.”
McMullin has been a member since October 1951, while Carver said she began attending in 1939 when her father, the Rev. Walter P. Arnold, became pastor. Carver moved away as an adult for a time before coming back several years ago.
Each committee member had their own reasons for wanting to preserve the church’s history.
“It’s my roots really, this is just a part of me,” Carver noted. “I like to keep history alive. I did not like history in high school but I love it now, because I am history now. It’s family to me.”
“I hardly remember my life that does not include this church,” McMullin added. “It’s a part of your life, it’s a part of the fabric of your life.
“I love history, but we don’t want people to think that’s all we are,” she said. “We have plans for our church.”
She added that they had plans for a May celebration for members who were 90-years-old and older, vacation Bible School plans are in the works as well as for the church itself.
“We are going to change the silhouette of our campus,” McMullin noted. “Our old buildings are going to come down. The reason we’re here is still the same. It’s to spread the Gospel, to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. It’s not looking back, it’s looking forward, building on what we have.”
Morton said he grew up at the First Baptist Church in Sedalia.
“I accepted Jesus when I was 9 in 1942, but I really didn’t know what it meant,” he said. “I started coming here as a teenager in high school. After I joined here in ‘51 then I realized what it meant to be a Christian. We’ve always had a vision, no matter where we were. We’ve tried so many ways to reach this neighborhood, and we are continuing to do that.”
“The Vision Continues, 1975-2015,” is written in chapters that take in 10 years of the church’s history at a time. It demonstrates how the church began to grow. McMullin said every church has ups and downs and she tried to cushion the times when things were difficult.
“The committee was very good about the editing,” she said. “In every church you have your good times, you have your bad times. We tried not to skim over the bad times. I would write something and I would know that it needed softening, I would send it to Becky. In a couple days she would send it back to me and she would have smoothed my rough edges.
“I can’t say enough about Deloris (too), she was the best proofreader and editor,” McMullin added.
Along with the history included in the book, the group tried to add each pastor’s name and also the names of youth ministers who served at the church the last 40 years.
Preserving the church history is only the beginning for the committee members and for East Sedalia Baptist.
“I just want people to know because we have written a history, because part of the old buildings are coming down, doesn’t mean that we’re not in business here as a church,” McMullin noted. “Our heart is in this neighborhood. We want to see people become Christians … Then their lives will get better, then we can help them spiritually and then we can help them physically.”
They also said they are grateful to Matt and Elizabeth Carver for getting the book printed online.
“We cannot thank them enough,” McMullin said.
Morton is already making plans to create a photo book for the church’s 150th anniversary.
“We don’t know who’s going to be on that committee, though,” McMullin said laughing.
“God is good!” Carver added.
“The Vision Continues, East Sedalia Baptist Church 1975-2015” can be purchased for $4 by calling the church office, 1019 E. Fifth St., at 826-3887.
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 530-0289 or @flbemiss; photo by Hope Lecchi | Democrat