LA PLATA, Mo. — Members of First Baptist Church in La Plata, Mo., threw a big party and invited all their neighbors to celebrate the church’s 175th anniversary.
The congregation provided a bounce house and games for children and lots of cake and ice cream, popcorn, snow cones and lemonade for everyone who turned out to La Plata City Park on July 4.
By one count, at least 250 people attended the event that featured Jay Stockham, a ceramic artist from Ashland, Mo. Using his potter’s wheel, Stockham shared what he calls Potter’s Parables through three demonstrations of his art. He grounded his demonstration in Jeremiah 18, emphasizing God as the potter and believers as the clay.
The Dysart Family from Macon, Mo., performed gospel music in the afternoon.
The church hosted an anniversary service on July 5. Following morning worship, members and guests enjoyed a carry-in dinner, with the special service at 2 p.m.
Several former ministers spoke, including Wade Paris, former director of missions of Thousand Hills Baptist Association; Elmer McCully, pastor from 2000 to 2011; Don Walton, interim pastor from 1993 to 1994, and now a full-time evangelist; and David Gottman, pastor from 2011 to 2014.
Stephen Patrick Hall, son of former pastor Charles Hall (1984-1993) and now a pastor in South Dakota, also spoke.
Current Thousand Hills DOM Richard Nations, a former youth minister, presented an anniversary plaque from the Missouri Baptist Convention and a certificate from the Missouri Baptist Historical Society.
Idavee Claiborne, widow of former pastor Frank Claiborne, and daughter Cynthia Claiborne Compton provided music. John Gorham, former church member and now a pastor in Shelbyville, Mo., also sang.
The church was founded in 1840 in Blanket Grove by first pastor Archibald Talbert Hite of Kentucky. The Blanket Grove congregation built a building of native clay brick in La Plata in 1867. In 1868, they built a wooden structure on the current site. A wing was added in 1917, and an educational building in the late 1960s.
The current facility was built in 1975-76, and the family life center was constructed in 2009.
An active church family, the congregation serves the community in a variety of ways through Woman’s Missionary Union. Members also participate in the Samaritan Purse Operation Christmas Child program. First Baptist supports Lifeline Pregnancy Help Clinic in Kirksville and participates in the La Plata Christian Ministries clothing and food pantry programs.
Matthew Tanner is pastor.