Church celebrates 150 years

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The First Baptist Church will be celebrating 150 years of worship and history in Golden with events centering not only on the church’s spiritual history, but its church members and pastors who helped frame the city of Golden today.

Chair of the planning committee for the anniversary celebration, Yvonne Hippensteel, along with many others including longtime church member and historian Jay Sanford, have worked diligently since last May to piece together the church’s history.

“There is no small job for something like this,” said Hippensteel, who has 30 people assisting in the weekend-long celebration Aug. 3-4.

The events scheduled are open to anyone interested in the church’s historical value, including the city’s bell purchased by entrepreneur W.A.H. Loveland.

“It was the first bell in the Colorado territory of any kind,” said Jay Sanford, historian for the First Baptist Church. The bell was cast in Boston in 1867 by H.N. Hooper & Co. and freighted across the country by ox to Omaha, Neb., driven by C.W. Burbridge. The bell was used for city functions including warnings of fires, storms, American Indian raids, and holiday celebrations.

“The city claimed that bell as much as the church did,” said Sanford.

Besides the history of the bell, the church had a succession of historical deacons and members who helped stabilize a mining town full of migrating workers after the church’s founding in 1863.

“We never had a chronological history of what’s gone on here,” said Sanford who spent the last 14 months listing all 33 pastors and 2,700 members in the last 150 years in alphabetical order. “Many, many people were very involved in the town itself,” he said. “I think that was the contribution, beyond the spiritual contribution, that stood out the most to me was how involved they were in the town over decades.”

Such prominent and well-known church members and deacons include David Parfet, merchant and church member, who Golden named its civic park after. Parfet owned, and later sold, his large general store to E.E. Stuart, another member and deacon to the church. The building which housed the general store still sits at 10th Street and Washington Avenue.

Dr. Albert Hale was the first president of the Colorado School of Mines and was a member of the First Baptist church. Then there is Seth Lake, first deacon of the church who will be recognized during the weekend events. Lake was the owner of the Astor House Hotel and now museum in Golden, which is listed as a national landmark.

Saturday events include a chuck wagon dinner 5:30-6:30 p.m. followed by a play about the church bell by Kids Zone and various speakers. Sunday a new quilt will be unveiled at 11 a.m. For more information, call Yvonne Hippensteel at 303-238-5465.

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