Centennial celebration

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks Wayne Lennon, chairman of the First Baptist Church of Clovis history committee, packs one of the commemorative medallions to be issued on the church’s 100-year anniversary May 6.

By Tonya Fennell: CNJ staff writer

From a small tent in a dirt field to a sprawling brick building, the First Baptist Church of Clovis has provided a century of ministry.

A centennial anniversary celebration is planned May 6.

Built on a swath of land donated by the railroad, the church still stands at its original location at Grand Avenue and Gidding Street.

According to church history, V.G. Cunningham, a Civil War veteran, secured a tent and invited settlers to “come to preaching.” Following that first service, the First Baptist Church was organized on May 5, 1907, with the apostolic number of 12 members.

The 100th anniversary has special significance to longtime member Lynn Martin.

The 82-year-old Clovis resident said it is mind-boggling to him that the majority of the church’s history happened in his lifetime.

“It’s extremely important,” Martin said. “This historical celebration shows the humble beginnings of our start in a tent to where we are now.”

Terry Townsend, who has been a member of First Baptist Church since 1990, said he feels the Lord put the church at the location for a reason.

“We (congregation) feel we belong here (Grand and Gidding),” Townsend said. “It was the intention of the Lord to have a presence in this town.”

Townsend said the Sunday celebration will be an all-day event filled with activities including a brunch, three worship services and a dinner.

“It will be a wonderful celebration,” he said.

Wayne Lennon, 63, joined the church seven years ago. Lennon said the church has been a perfect fit for him.

“I was looking for a Bible-believing church,” Lennon said, “and I found one that was good at teaching the word.”

Lennon, who is the church’s history committee chairman, said the church has served as a spiritual lighthouse for Clovis throughout the years.

“Thousands of lives have been affected for the cause of Christ as the gospel message has gone forth from this corner for nearly 100 years.”

What: First Baptist Church of Clovis 100th Anniversary Celebration.
Where: 302 Gidding St.
When: May 6

8:30 a.m. — Brunch
9:15 a.m. — Mid-morning worship with former pastor James Russell
10:30 a.m. — Morning worship with former pastor Joseph Bunce
12:15 p.m. — All-church dinner in the fellowship hall
5:30 p.m. — Missions “World Vision” with Ben Bedford
6:30 p.m. — Evening worship with former pastor the Rev. Dale Rouse