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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.

RevCRStreetman_small1932- Pastor Charles R Streetman
(Oct. 23, 1932 - June 1, 1934)

1934- Pastor L E Johnson
(Sept. 10, 1934 - April 1, 1936)

1936- Pastor E L Luckensmeyer
(April 19, 1936 - October 8, 1938)

1938- Pastor O L Nitcher
(Dec. 8, 1938 -Feb. 22, 1940)

1940- Pastor Roy S Anding
(June 26, 1940 - June 11, 1941)

1941- Pastor J D Goldsmith
(Sept. 1, 1941 - Aug. 16, 1942)

1942- Pastor Clifford Wells

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.

OldCockedHat_smallA 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

currentsignThis 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.

In 1949 the accordion choir was formed with the help of the "Rozwick School of Accordion" located at Sixth and Western in Topeka. This choir not only participated in the services of East Side but also traveled to other churches in Wichita, Kansas; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Springfield, Missouri. Bro. Harold Simpson served as the accordion choir director and also arranged the music. The church's Sunday evening services were broadcast on local radio station KJAY from 8:00 to 9:00 P.M., and the accordion choir was featured as the broadcast began.


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.

Genevieve Cavin was instrumental in organizing Vacation Bible School each summer. Mrs. Cavin could not find material to use as curriculum for the kids. This need started a ministry for the Cavin’s and East Side Baptist that will long be remembered. She started writing Biblical material that could be used at East Side. This ministry expanded to print material for many other churches, along with several mission fields in the language of the country. It grew to house a full-working print shop with staff for writing, illustrating, printing and shipping.

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.

The East Side Baptist Church bus ministry began in 1974 and continued until 1995. At its peak, four buses and one van were used to transport between one hundred and two hundred adults and children to the services each Sunday.

Pastor Cavin also made “Faith Promise” missions giving an active part of the ministry here in Topeka. On June 9, 1974, eleven teenagers and four adults, including Associate Pastor Rev. Robert Buckner, left Topeka on a two-week mission trip. They were headed for Monterrey, Mexico, and Missionary Lonnie Smith, Jr.'s, work. When they arrived, they were joined by individuals from two Fellowship churches in Ohio and by members of Kansas City Baptist Temple. Their goal for the trip was to construct a church for Rev. Smith's ministry. During the day, the men worked on the building while the women visited people in the community. In the evening, the entire group held services in several of the missions located in the area. God's blessings were abundant on this trip as 221 adults were saved. The church building was also completed and the group had the privilege of being present for the first service in this new building. Since missions giving started, our support reaches over sixty active missionaries and ministries around the world.

We presently are the sending church for JA and Pam Richards, who serve on the field of Wales. Missions giving has grown to over $70,000 annually for missionaries and missions ministries.


1974- Pastor Robert Buckner

hoffmanfoote_smallOn 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.

On January 4, 1976, Bro. David Whitcraft, of Olathe, Kansas, School for the Deaf, began a ministry for the hearing impaired in our Sunday services. Rev. Tony Scoglio had served on staff at ESBC as associate pastor, working with the music and youth. For some time, Rev. Scoglio had felt the Lord was leading him to establish a church in Buffalo, New York. On February 25, 1976, a business meeting was held, and the congregation voted to financially support Rev. Scoglio's new ministry. He moved to New York and established the Life Gate 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 Sunday evening, March 12, 1978, a banquet was held, and monetary donations for construction of the new building were requested. Church members prayerfully and excitedly pledged $200,000 over a three-year time span. May 15, 1977, was a very special day in the life of ESBC, with 771 people attending "Friend Day." Due to the large attendance, some of the classes were held under tents that had been assembled in front of the church.

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.

A diagram of the church pews and choir chairs was presented to the congregation. Members were encouraged to purchase an entire pew or a chair, and they quickly did. When the time came to paint the church at Twenty-ninth and Paulen, the men determined how many gallons of paint would be needed. They went to the paint store on Saturday afternoon and borrowed that many gallons. During the Sunday morning service at 614 California, members purchased the gallons of paint and placed them on the altar.

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.

During the pastorate of Bernie Rogers, a "Missions House" was built on the property. It is equipped with a one-bedroom mission’s apartment and a three-bedroom living area on the other side. It is also equipped with a two-car garage. Today it is used to house staff and supplies a place for our missionaries to stay while visiting our church or passing through the area going to other ministries. It has been and is a great asset to the church for ministry use.


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.

A Church Camp ministry was also developed and was very active in leading many teenagers to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. The camps were instrumental in seeing many of those teens go into full- and part-time ministry work and later attend Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Missouri.

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.

On March 20, 1988, East Side Baptist Church held a special "Mrs. Cavin Day"; friends and family from many states were on hand for this special day. Dr. D. A. Cavin spoke, and there were 450 people in attendance. Mrs. Cavin passed away in February 1990, after faithfully serving the Lord here for nearly forty years.

1999- Pastor Keith Napier

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.

He held sports activities in the gym to reach people, was developing a growing discipleship ministry and making some improvements to the Sunday School ministry of the church. Pastor Napier's wife, Jody, a very accomplished pianist, played the piano for church services, continued the “praise team” ministry and directed the choir. During the years they were on staff, the choir produced several memorable cantatas. These were performed Friday through Sunday prior to Easter, and crowds filled the church sanctuary.

2004- Pastor Phillip Housley

s41642cb112607_36Keith 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 Hughes

On 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.


Verse of the Day

Psalm 119:93
“I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me.”

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