A History Of
The First Southern Baptist Church
October 1897 - October 1997
In the year 1886 the country was two and a half decades past the Civil War, and the period of Reconstruction was beginning to fade. The price of cotton was down to nine cents a pound, and a man could buy a pound of bacon for ten cents or a fifty pound bag of flour for a dollar and a half. The religious tone of the country was toward denominationalism and evangelism, and it was during this social, economic, and religious atmosphere of change that a small group of people in Malden, Missouri were inspired to plant a Baptist church. The fifty-first minutes of the annual session of the Black River Association dated October 1, 1886 read as follows:
Rush Creek Church, Pisgah Church and Malden Church, and it
appearing to the satisfaction of this association that said churches
were in gospel order, they were received, and the hand of fellowship
was extended to their Messengers, who took their seats with us.
The statistical table of the minutes also note that the messengers included T.B. Reeves, L.L. Laferney, clerk, and the pastor, I.R. Holcom, Pollard, Arkansas. It further states that their membership was 15 people. A copy of the Black River Association minutes cost the group fifty cents, and the largest group of the association at that time was Oak Grove with a membership of 162.
The little Malden church met on the third Sunday of every month in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church for some time, but the organization did not survive. However, on October 5, 1897, the church was reorganized as the Malden Missionary Baptist Church with 11 charter members. The first pastor of the church was a Rev. Westers, followed by a Rev. Reeves. This church still exists today.
Sometime prior to 1900 the congregation purchased a lot and erected a one-room frame building. By 1905 a Sunday School record reports there were 42 in attendance. By 1917 the statistics of membership noted that members totaled 27 males and 50 females. And by 1925, a Missionary Society was organized by Mrs. W.F. Brumfield, whose husband was pastor of the church at the time.
The church continued to thrive through World War I and the Great Depression of 1929. However, a reading of the minutes from 1929 to 1936 reveals the difficult times for the people. The pastor's annual salary dropped from $1,320.00 in 1929 to $712.50 in 1933, and the body often had difficulty keeping current with their financial obligations. An excerpt from the March 8, 1933 records states that "all...salaries and wages have been reduced during the current depression years." But the people remained faithful and the Sunday School records indicate that there was a steady increase in attendance.
The congregation continued to worship in the one-room frame building until January 14, 1940 when fire destroyed the interior of the building. Rev. Mitchell Wright was pastor at that time. After the fire, the First Presbyterian Church was without a pastor and invited the congregation to join them for services until another building could be built.
That year Rev. Wright resigned and Rev. A.C. Rudloff was called as pastor. A building program was begun with plans to build a basement to the east of the church, move the frame building over it to be used for Sunday School rooms and a church office, build a basement where the frame building had stood, and then build the auditorium over it. Seven thousand five hundred dollars was borrowed from the Home Mission Board to build the building, and at a sunrise service on Thanksgiving Day, 1940, the first shovel of dirt was dug. The first concrete was poured on Christmas Day of that same year, and the first service was held in the new auditorium on February 15, 1942. The congregation paid off the entire indebtedness and dedicated the building on the third anniversary of its beginning.
Again the history of the country intertwined with the history of the church as the United States became involved in World War II. The members began a Baptist Service Center in the basement of the church and ran a bus from the Malden Airbase so that cadets stationed there could attend Sunday Service. It was also in the same year, 1943, that Rev. Rudloff felt the call to serve as a Chaplain in the United States Army, and he resigned as pastor of the church to serve in that capacity. At that time Rev. A.R. Hicks was called as pastor and served for a little more than a year.
After the war years Rev. R.L. Shell began his pastorate at First Southern Baptist in 1946 and served until 1955. Later Rev. Shell also served as interim pastor on two other occasions and was named Pastor Emeritus of the church in 1968. During his tenure as pastor, the church established a mission on the Airbase — which later was organized as the Airport Baptist Church of Malden. Also plans were being made for a mission in the Northeast section of the city, and the Women's Missionary Union helped train members of Macedonia Baptist in Vacation Bible School and missionary work during this period of church outreach.
In the summer of 1956 Rev. David O. Michael was called as pastor and served until 1963. In September of his first year, the Kimball Street Mission was dedicated. It is now the Kimball Baptist Church located on South Madison Street. In the latter part of 1958, under the leadership of Rev. Michael, plans were made to build a new education building at the east side of the auditorium. In April 1959 the architect's plans were approved, and in June 1959, a bond program for $110,000.00 was instituted to finance the building. It was completed and dedicated in the summer of 1960.
Rev. C.H. McClure was called as pastor in 1963, and under his leadership Spoonerville Mission was started. The mission began with a shade tree Vacation Bible School held in August 1964. Some of the foundation work for Spoonerville Mission had been laid during the early 1940's through visitation and surveys made by members of the church. The mission met in a small rented house for some time, but a larger house was purchased from Mrs. Lucille McConnell in 1969. During the pastorate of Rev. Joe Acuff, 1968-1971, a new building was erected for Spoonerville Baptist Mission. Then in April 1972, Rev. Donald L. Cochran was called as pastor and two months later, on June 25, 1972, Spoonerville Mission was organized as a church.
During Rev. Cochran pastorate a loan was obtained from Malden State Bank for $90,000 to remodel the auditorium, to install new heating and cooling units, and to redecorate the education building. It was also during this time that the church staff was increased to include youth and music ministers. The first three to be called included Billy Scott, Howard Fuller and Duke Tolbert succeeded by Jerry Darby. After 12 years of ministry, Rev. Cochran retired on January 1, 1984 and Scott Killingsworth was called to serve as pastor in that same year. During his ministry several classes were conducted including Discipleship/Ministry and Marriage classes and Sunday School attendance increased He was followed by Ted Wimberley in 1985.
During Wimberley's ministry, on March 13, 1989, the sanctuary of the church burned and was a total loss, but the church continued to have services in the educational wing. In the months that followed, after much research and planning, an architect was hired and the church entered into the "Together We Build" program to pay for a new building. On April 22, 1990, groundbreaking services were held, and approximately one year later on the first Sunday in July, 1991, the congregation worshiped for the first time in the new sanctuary. A dedication service was held on September 22, 1991 with Dr. Don Windeman of the Missouri Baptist Convention as guest speaker. The cost of the new building was approximately $830,500.00 and with the funds from the replacement insurance and the "Together We Build" commitments of $191,461.00, the church was able to pay off the debt within four years. So on November 19, 1995, a note burning ceremony was held in the sanctuary by a grateful congregation.
The church was without a pastor from 1992 until 1993, and during this time Dolan Rogers served as interim. Then on January 28, 1993 the church called Rev. Charley Shrum. During his ministry a family life center was constructed, a home was purchased for the youth pastor, Dion Tracy, and the 100th anniversary of the church was celebrated
As the church has sought to serve the local community through the years by building expansions and various programs, home and foreign missions have also been a top priority. According to the first records available, in 1909 the little church, with 87 members and a total annual budget of $1,079.00, gave $83.90, or approximately eight percent toward missions. As the membership and total giving has increased, so has missions involvement, and by 1996 the steady rise in mission contributions had reached a sum of $45,000.00 for the associational year.
This brief history does not begin to cover the hundreds and hundreds of men, women, boys and girls who have served the Lord so faithfully for the past 100 years in the many areas of service connected with the operation of an effective church as part of the spiritual community. However, the Apostle Paul clearly states that all work, "ministries and effects," is of "the same God who works all things in all persons," and that no work for the Lord goes unnoticed because whatever is done "as unto the Lord" is forever recorded in records that no human hand can transcribe. Therefore, a history of a church is, in reality, a history of Almighty God working and achieving His purposes in and through man. No man's work can be exalted over another, and no man's work can be deprecated. And so in the words penned in 1875 by the great hymn writer, Fanny J. Crosby, the congregation proclaims: "to God be the glory, great things He has done ...and great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son" on this 100 Year Celebration.
An Updated History of First Southern Baptist Malden
1997 — 2007
After the 100 Year Celebration in 1997, Charley Shrum continued as pastor until November 2001. During his ministry a family life center was constructed, a home purchased for the youth pastor, and there was an emphasis on evangelism. After Brother Shrum’s call to another pastorate, Dr. Bill Jackson, a former graduate of Malden High School, was called as interim and served from February 2002 through May 2003.
In that year the church called Ernest Nelson as pastor. He began his ministry in June 2003 and served until June 2005. During his tenure the church reinstated Discipleship Training, hired Mark Pickard as part time youth pastor, sponsored two mission trips, and purchased a lot adjacent to the existing church property. After Ernest Nelson’s pastorate, Dr. Bill Jackson returned to serve as interim in the fall of 2005 and served until January 2007. At that time Aulden LeBlanc, the youngest pastor in the history of the church, was called by the congregation, and he began his ministry in February 2007.
As events in history have changed the course of the church in the past, the technology of today is changing the format of ministry to meet the needs of the times in the age of ipods and Blackberries. And although the methods may change, the message has not. As the church seeks to fulfill Jesus’ commission in Matthew 28:19-20 to "go therefore and make disciples...teaching them to observe all that I commanded you... .," and as the congregation responds to that call, several changes have been implemented under the leadership of Pastor Aulden LeBlanc and Youth Pastor Mark Pickard in order to minister to all ages more effectively. In response to the opportunities afforded through technology, a dual projector system has been purchased for the auditorium to keep the congregation up-to-date on current needs and events and to give visual illustrations of the pastor’s messages.
Also, there have been several new events in the Children and Youth Departments and in the ministry of the Sunday School. In the Children’s Ministry there has been a renovation of all facilities including new paint, new carpets, and new furniture, a reorganization of Children’s Church, and a Wednesday night outreach program called TeamKid. In the Sunday evening Youth Program there is now a "Sunday Night of Worship" with Youth Pastor, Mark Pickard, leading this ministry. There was also a church sponsored trip to the Creation Museum in Ohio. In the Sunday School area as the attendance continues to grow, a new Pastor’s Class is available, and a promotional event, the "Hee Haw Show," was presented stressing the value of fellowship and Bible Study on Sunday morning.
In other ministries, the Men’s Fellowship sponsored a "Guy’s Weekend Fishing/Camping Trip" to encourage father-son relationships and to minister to all men in the church. The WMU and the Senior Citizen’s Fellowship of the church continue with service projects in the community and in local and foreign missions as they seek to serve those in need.
Several events have occurred and are scheduled pertaining to community outreach including a "Back to School SPLASH," a "Family Festival Event," sponsorship of Malden High School’s "Catch the Wave"news radio program, and sponsorship of Jr. High Football/Cheerleader’s home game breakfasts. Each event is designed for fellowship and for presentations about being — or becoming — a follower of Jesus.
Again, as the church moves out to serve, we can only return to the words of the hymn writer, Fanny Crosby, "Great things [God] has done....and great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son... ." And as we continue to remember "To God be the Glory!," we look forward to His work through the service of His people to win a community to be followers of Jesus.
Date Updated: January 23, 2008