BAPTIST CHURCH OF SIBLEY
As early as 1874, a few of the
Baptists of Sibley met in the furniture store of Mr. Mitchell, in what
was known as the Shell building. This stood where Dr. Wilders house now
stands. No permanent organization was made at that time but the subject
was discussed and in February, 1876, a meeting was called at the
Congregational church. Ten persons responded to this invitation and
passed a resolution to organize as the First Baptist church of Sibley.
Bro. T. O. Wilbern was elected as the first deacon and Mary Caldwell as
the first clerk. A list of all known Baptists in the county was made at
this meeting and the number reported as twenty-five. At a business
meeting April i, 1876, it was voted to invite the Baptist minister of
Spirit Lake, Rev. J. L. Coppoc, to preach in Sibley once each month. Two
more deacons were appointed, Bro. Mitchell and Bro. Churchill, and two
trustees outside of the church membership, C. I. Hill and J. F. Glover.
The Cherokee church showed interest in our welfare at this time by
presenting a communion set. At the June covenant meeting arrangements
were made to call a council to meet with the church the last Saturday in
July to consider the propriety of being recognized as a regular Baptist
church. This council was held July 29, 1876, and the following churches
were represented by delegates: Spirit Lake, Sioux Falls, Cherokee and
Iowa City. The following day resolutions to recognize the church were
adopted, a recognition sermon was preached by Rev. Coppoc and the right
hand of fellowship was extended to the church. The list of members at
that time numbered about eighteen and others were added within a short
time after this meeting. Thus was perfected the organization that has
gone steadily onward, sometimes in the gloom of discouragement, and
sometimes in the sunshine of success, but always, as the church
believes, under the care and approval of God.
For some time after the council meeting the subject of calling a pastor
was discussed, but on account of the repeated failure of crops through
grasshopper times, it was postponed until the winter of 1878-79, when
Rev. Judson came to work in this part of Iowa in the capacity of a home
missionary. In the following spring he was given a call to become pastor
of the church. He was a faithful worker, preaching not only in Sibley
but in some of the school houses of the adjoining country. He closed his
work the first of March, 1880, and the church extended a call to Rev. E.
M. Heyburn for six months, at the end of which time he was called for a
year, and annually thereafter until his resignation in April, 1887. His
seven years of pastorate were marked by many important events, principal
of which was the erection of the present church. Before this time the
services were held either in the Congregational church or in the old
school house. The church site was purchased in April, 1882, and the
money for the building was raised by private subscription and a loan
from the home missionary society. Some of the work on the building was
donated. The church was completed and dedicated in the fall of 1882.
Rev. Heyburn is remembered with warmest affection. He labored long and
faithfully during the hard times when the society was hard pressed to
pay off the church debt. In order to live and get along he put in many a
hard day's work in the harvest field. After Mr. Heyburn resigned in 1887
Rev. C. E. Higgins became pastor, but in less than two months he passed
to his reward. His death occurred at Independence, November 3, 1887. In
June, 1888, Rev. Schutz, of Buchanan county, came to the church and
remained until 1890 and during that time did much effective work. The
baptistery was put in the church during the first summer he was here.
Then came Rev. Richard Bradshaw from Vermont, in June, 1890. He was a
native of England and proved to be a good and faithful worker until he
began to suffer from ill health. In the autumn of 1891 he was obliged to
give up his work. He went to California, but received no especial
benefit from the change and soon received the message to come up higher.
The church was without a pastor from November 1, 1891, to July 1, 1892,
when Rev. Schutz returned to Sibley and accepted a call. He remained
this time two years, closing his work here November 1, 1893. Again the
church was without a pastor for nearly a year. In October, 1894, Rev.
McCollum came half time, each alternate Sunday being spent in
Worthington where he resided. He was an earnest worker but the church
felt the need of a resident pastor on full time, so Rev. D. P.
Livingstone began pastoral work in Sibley in December, 1895. The
following June he resigned to accept a call to become pastor of Calvary
Baptist Church, of Sioux City. Soon after Brother Livingston left to go
to Sioux City the attention of the pulpit committee was directed to
Rolla E. Brown, a student at Iowa Falls, and he was secured as pastor.
He began work in 1896 and remained for nearly three years. He was a
faithful worker and during his pastorate twenty-three members were added
to the church by baptism and one by letter. He resigned to resume his
school work. The next man called to this field was Rev. Baxter. He was a
good man, but peculiar and was asked to resign after serving three
The church was then without a pastor for a period of ten months. In
October, 1899, Brother C. A. Lemon was called and remained nearly two
years, doing faithful work until he resigned August 29, 1901. During
Bro. Lemon's pastorate there were added to the membership six by baptism
and three by letter. Again the church was like a sheep without a
shepherd for nearly nine months, but loyally held together until May,
1902, when Brother A. E. Chartier was called. During his pastorate the
Sioux Valley Association met with this church. There were admitted to
the church during his pastorate twenty-one by baptism, fourteen by
letter and three by experience. He resigned October 30, 1904. May 22,
1905, Rev. Bancroft began work here and resigned March 29, 1906.
Rev. T. W. Harris, of Macon, Georgia, began his pastorate June 3, 1907,
and his wife were a great help in many ways. During Rev. Harris'
pastorate the church roll was revised and forty-four were dropped,
eleven dismissed by letter and seven lost by death. There were added
twenty-seven by baptism, six by experience and ten by letter. Rev.
Harris resigned June 28, ic;o8, his resignation to take effect the first
of the following October. Once again the church was without a pastor
eight months, depending on such supply as could be obtained. In April,
1909, Rev. H. R. Williams, of Doon, Iowa, was called to the church. Both
he and his family have been much help to the church and all its
auxiliaries. During Bro. Williams' pastorate thus far there have been
added to the church two by baptism and eight by letter. One has been
dismissed by letter. Rev. Williams is an earnest and scholarly gentleman
and is doing a fine work for the church and community.
At the present time the Baptist Young People's Union consists of
twenty-eight persons, nearly all of whom are active members. It is one
of the most promising departments of the church and points forward to
achievements in future work.
From the 1914 Past and Present of O'Brien and Osceola Counties