4425 SE 29th St | Topeka, KS 66605 | [Contact Us] | © 2010-2013
|Written by Miss Darlene Plummer|
1931- Pastor Walter Bishop
The East Side Baptist Church was organized February 19, 1931, with a membership of forty-six. Services were held in a five-room dwelling at 2124 East Sixth. This church started as a Sunday School Ministry of the First Baptist Church of Topeka. Bro. Walter Bishop was called as the first pastor. Several years later, due to the growth, there was an expansion project to the existing building on Sixth Street. The church remolded the building and added on to it. Services were held here for the next twelve years. Several pastors served the church during these years.
On September 1, 1942, Rev. Clifford Wells was called as pastor. The church voted in October of 1942 to release First Baptist Church of the $20 paid to ESBC each month for support. By the spring of 1943, the congregation had grown so that the building had become inadequate. At this time, East Side Baptist Church voted to withdraw from the Northern Baptist Convention and stand as an independent church.
A larger building at the junction of Tenth and Sixth Streets, formerly known as "Old Cocked Hat," was purchased, remodeled, and dedicated with a week-long Bible Conference beginning June 20, 1943. Prior to becoming the East Side Baptist Church, the building had served as a night club until it was closed by city officials in a raid.
During this time in our history, the young people attended the Kansas State Fellowship Youth Camp at Forest Park, now located east of Deer Creek Drive in Topeka, Kansas. Staff member that served with Pastor Wells: Associate Leslie Tomberlin.
1945- Pastor Sam Jesse
Rev. Sam Jesse was called as pastor on April 8, 1945. Feeling the need for a more suitable location for a new church building, the site of the present church located at 614 California was purchased. The groundbreaking service on the new site was held August 18, 1946. Rev. Sam Jesse turned the first shovel of dirt to begin construction on the church building. The basement was completed, and the first service was held in it on March 23, 1947. The church members voted to obtain a $9,000 loan from Fidelity State Bank to purchase materials for construction of the building. Services continued in the basement while the above-ground edifice was being constructed.
May 1947- New Church Building
New Church Building started On January 19, 1947, a newspaper article featured the headline "Preacher Gets Blisters in Labor Building Own Church." The article described the initial groundbreaking and the start of the actual construction. Carpentry work was completed entirely by church members, and the newspaper article commented that Rev. Jesse and many laymen had plenty of blisters and sore muscles to show for their work. It was reported that the cost of the completed basement sanctuary would be approximately $20,000, with the cost of the entire structure estimated at $35,000. This would be the first permanent church building for the East Side Baptist congregation.
On May 11, 1947, Rev. Bill Dowell preached a special dedication service in the basement sanctuary. On July 20, 1947, church members voted to approve an addition loan for $11,000. Church members were asked to save any spare change, and each month this change was placed in the nail keg located at the front of the auditorium. Many sacrifices were made by church members. Needed materials to complete construction on the main auditorium were not purchased until the money was available. This fundraising was the primary reason the final construction took three years to complete. A majority of the material made of wood was purchased from Fort Riley when some of the barracks were destroyed following World War II.
Another article featured in the Topeka State Journal May 26, 1948, was headlined "Hammers of Congregation Shape New Church." A portion of this article said: "Between pounding a pulpit and nails into the roof of this new church, the Rev. Sam Jesse was the busiest many in Topeka Wednesday. Parishioners are working nights to put up a $75,000 house of worship which the Rev. Mr. Jesse believes will cost no more than $50,000 […]
"Rev. Jesse relates a story of the cooperation of his people, who are far from wealthy, giving so that they can have a fine church. Daily, except prayer meeting night which is Wednesday, the men scale a 45-foot ladder and begin putting on roofing. The women bring them meals and 'at the sound of the 9 o'clock whistle,' said the minister, 'we quit working.' Admitting he isn't too accurate with the hammer, the Rev. Mr. Jesse said, 'There are marks all over my fingers, not to mention slivers. Each night, unless I have sick calls or something, I put on my overalls, grab a hammer, a saw and go to work with the men.”
May 1948 - The Bell
This same year, a sixty-five-year-old-bell weighing one thousand pounds was taken from the old Bethel Presbyterian Church. The bell was installed in the bell tower at 614 California, and on May ? 1948, at 9:00 A.M., Bro. Wilbur Anderson rang the bell for the first of many times.February 1949 – New Church Completed February 27,1949, was a proud day for the members of the East Side Baptist Church. It was the first service held in the newly-completed auditorium. The membership of the church contributed at least half of the cost of the building of the new church through their own labors. Rev. Bill Dowell returned to preach the morning dedication service. There was a special service in the afternoon for the laying of the cornerstone.
1950- Rev. Leaford H. Cavin
Rev. Leaford H. Cavin accepted the call as pastor on October 29, 1950. In November 1951, Bro. Howard Jewell was called as full-time music director; he became Bro. Cavin's first associate. In 1954, new pews and a new pulpit were purchased for the auditorium, the floors were refinished, and in 1955 the church was completely air-conditioned. The church purchased one house on each side of the facilities, making room for expansion. The houses were used for income property and overflow Sunday School classes. In the 1950s, the Sunday School attendance occasionally exceeded three hundred. In the 1960s, Bro. Don Cavin was called as associate pastor. In 1964, Bro. Don Cavin resigned his position as associate to start the Overland Park Baptist Church in Overland Park, Kansas. East Side Baptist Church assisted this new church in obtaining their initial loan.
Eight women of our church formed a singing group called the “Gospelettes.” They became a regular feature of our church and were often invited to other churches to share gospel music with great harmony. They are still able to be heard today due to the record that was made and other recordings.
1974- Pastor Robert Buckner
On Saturday, October 12, 1974, Pastor Leaford Cavin suffered a massive heart attack and was rushed to the hospital. The next morning, Rev. Cavin went home to be with the Lord. Associate Pastor Robert Buckner delivered the Sunday morning message to a very solemn congregation. Rev. Buckner immediately assumed the duties of interim pastor. A business meeting was held on October 23, 1974, and Robert Buckner was called to become the eleventh pastor of East Side Baptist Church.
1976 - New Property
On April 7, 1976, Rev. Robert Buckner proposed the purchase of land located at Twenty-ninth and Paulen Road. A vote was taken, and the church body approved the purchase of this land. On April 26, 1976, a contract was signed to purchase thirty acres of land for a total of $60,000. On August 1, 1976, following the morning services, the church body assembled at Twenth-ninth and Paulen Road for a time of celebration, thanksgiving, and an old-fashioned tent service. When approval to construct a new building was obtained, the church started the "Together We Build" campaign.
On December 24, 1978, the mortgage for the building at 614 California was burned during the morning services. A business meeting regarding construction of the new church building was held on May 28, 1980.
June 1981- New Church Building
On June 7, 1981, East Side Baptist Church celebrated its 50th Anniversary and dedicated the new church building at Twenty-ninth and Paulen .
1982- Pastor Bernie Rodgers
After Pastor Robert Buckner resigned, the church called Bernie Rodgers on July 11, 1982. He and his wife, Janet, were with the church for three years and were a special blessing at a much needed time. Janet was an accomplished pianist and played the piano and sang special numbers with other ladies of the church. Pastor Rogers faithfully served and preached the word of God. God blessed East Side Baptist Church during this time with souls being saved and many people were added to the church body.
1986- Pastor Terry Brillhart
When Pastor Rodgers resigned to go into a full-time "Families By Faith" ministry, the church called Terry Brillhart. He accepted the pastorate of ESBC on Aug. 24, 1986. He and his wife, Fran, along with two sons and two daughters, joined the ESBC family. In twelve year's time, the church developed a “praise team” that would help lead the music ministry. Pastor Brillhart had a vision to build a Family Life Center, and that became a reality during his tenure. It provided a full-size gym floor with three large rooms for classes and an area to congregate after church services. The “Young At Heart” group was started during this time; and Pastor Brillhart actively participated, especially on the trips to Branson, Missouri. These were very special times for our older members.
In the 1980s, an AWANA children’s program was started that has truly been a work of the Lord in seeing many children and some parents coming to trust in Christ. Chuck Chiles was the first commander. AWANA continues to be a vital part of this ministry.
Pastor Brillhart resigned as pastor in 1998. The church called Keith Napier as pastor, and he accepted the position on January 24, 1999. He had the opportunity to see and experience the ministry here starting in the youth department, then assuming the associate's position and working with the Singles class, and then accepting the Senior Pastor's position. He was actively involved in many different aspects of the ministry before he became Senior Pastor.
Keith Napier resigned as pastor in October 2003, and Phillip Housley accepted the position on March 1, 2004. Pastor Phil and his wife Stephanie brought their two sons, Blake and Chase from their pervious position as Assocaite Pastor in Springfield, MO.
In cooperation with Dallas Arnold, Young At Heart director, he initiated the Shut-in Visitation Program in their homes, care homes, hones for the elderly and hospitals.
He organized an early-morning breakfast at the church on Easter Sunday morning each year.
In 2009 for the first time ever he was instrumental in organizing the Upwards program, an outreach program for children and teens in the community to play basketball and cheerleading. Prayer leaders built prayer teams to pray for those participating in the competition that they would not only have fun playing but learn good sportsmanship and be blessed by hearing the Word of God and the way of salvation during the half time devotions.
During Pastor Phil's tenure he was instrumental in revitalizing the church in attendance and participation growth, as well as financial growth, and missions growth both in increasing support and additional missionaries. Pastor Phil resigned on May 17, 2009 after taking a new position in Springfield, MO.
2009- Pastor Dean HughesOn July 26, 2009, Dean Hughes began serving as pastor at East Side.
Today we celebrate the fact that the Lord has led us through difficult times, brought us through needed changes, and is leading us to reach the people of the Topeka area with the Gospel message. He is still at work in the lives of those that attend East Side, along with those that have felt His leading to other parts of the country. Many people have come to know Christ as their Savior and have surrendered to Him through the ministry of East Side Baptist Church. Many young men and women have surrendered to the ministry both at home and on the mission fields. We praise God for the past eighty plus years and look forward to proclaiming the gospel message until He calls us home.