125th anniversary weekend at Walnut Ridge Baptist Church Saturday and Sunday | Local News

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WATERLOO – In June 1896, four men surveyed a triangular piece of land at the corner of Walnut and Lime streets. From their perch on a log in a grove of trees, the men considered building a church on the site and purchased the land for $ 350. Later that year, the Walnut Street Baptist Church opened its doors to worshipers.

After 125 years, Walnut Ridge Baptist Church, now located on Ansborough and Ridgeway avenues, will be remembered for its deep roots and strong foundation in the community at a birthday celebration on Saturday and Sunday.

“We are shaped by our past and a long history of strong Bible preaching and teaching, and continuing to focus on the word of God is what has kept us going for 125 years,” Reverend Tom said. Hlad, senior pastor of Walnut Ridge Baptist. Church.

Saturday there will be tours from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. of the historic church building at 415 Walnut Street. Shuttles will depart from the church at 1307 W. Ridgeway Ave. to the historic site in the city center. From 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. there will be a family banquet at the church in Walnut Ridge. Dave Tebbenkamp will be the guest speaker.

Sunday’s 10-hour worship service at Walnut Ridge will feature Tim Capon of the Iowa Association of Regular Baptist Churches and John Greening, songs, special music and testimonies. A family lunch will follow at noon in the Fellowship room. An evening worship service at 5:30 p.m. will feature speaker Mike Augsburger.

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Throughout the day, historical exhibitions will be open to the public in room 205.

In the 1900s, a growing congregation necessitated the construction of a new Walnut Street Baptist Church building in the same location on Walnut Street. Architect Clinton P. Shockley designed a brick structure influenced by the English Arts and Crafts movement, the Chicago School and Fine Arts architecture. It was home to one of the largest Baptist congregations in Iowa with 1,400 seats, according to historians, and has hosted revivals by evangelist Billy Sunday.

“We have members in their 90s who remember being in the old church nursery,” Hlad said. His wife, Christine, remembers attending services and Sunday school in the old church where his late father, Reverend David Moore, served as youth pastor and then senior pastor from 1956 to 1974.

Moore ministered in Ohio before returning to Waterloo and serving as Pastor Emeritus from 1998 to 2015. He died in 2016. Hlad, originally from Ohio, met Christine Moore when her father held a position in a church in the Cleveland area. They married in 1976.

The congregation moved to its present location on Ansborough and Ridgeway avenues in 1971. The Walnut Street building was sold to another church and renamed Faith Temple Baptist Church. It has been vacant for about 10 years and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000.

In 2019, Iowa Heartland Habitat for Humanity purchased the church for $ 40,000 on behalf of the Walnut Neighborhood Housing Coalition. The group wants to stop the deterioration of the building and develop ideas and funding to save it as part of the ongoing neighborhood revitalization efforts.

There are currently 200 members at Walnut Ridge Church, representing a cross section of the community. “It comes and goes. We have visitors who come for the services every week. Some stay and become members. We have had several who found us online during the COVID pandemic and came, ”Hlad said.

Although the church was closed to visitors for about three months at the start of the COVID pandemic, Hlad regularly posted sermons online to serve his flock.

“There is a good pride in the fact that people have stayed true to what is important and have remained connected to their faith family. This is a positive point, ”said Hlad. “No matter where we are, or have been as far as the location, the Bible is our foundation and that never changes.”

The church has a long history in Sunday school education, youth ministry, and missionary work. In 1908, 500 people attended Sunday school. The church has started four Sunday school chapels in various parts of Waterloo. Two of the chapels later became Burton Avenue Baptist Church and Hagerman Baptist Church. In 1952, the Walnut Street Church built a Sunday school across the street.

The Waterloo Ridge Baptist Academy was established in 1973 at the present location. Although it now operates as a separate entity known as Waterloo Christian School, it is still located on the Walnut Ridge property.

Hlad is excited about the future. “I can’t wait to see how God intends to use the church to uplift people and how best to serve our community. “

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