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 months.

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 May, 1954

Osceola County Iowa Genealogy - The IAGenWeb Project