One of Lawrence's oldest churches a congregation founded by former slaves is poised to add another year to its lengthy presence in the community.
First Regular Missionary Baptist Church, 1646 Vt., will celebrate its 133rd anniversary Sunday with preaching, a historical display and a dinner with special guests.
"When I look at some of the major churches I've had interaction with across the country, 133 years is one of the oldest I've seen," said the Rev. Reginald Bachus, pastor of First Baptist. "The church I came from is 112 years old. Serving a community for 133 years that is something to be proud of."
Bachus started as First Baptist's pastor Jan. 1. He previously served at Mount Zion Baptist Church in Kansas City, Kan., where his father the Rev. C.L. Bachus is senior pastor.
The historical display, in a room off the church foyer, will feature items from the church archives at Kansas University's Spencer Research Library. Visitors will be able to view documents, see old photos and read a written history of the church.
First Baptist will have its regular 11 a.m. worship service, followed by a church dinner at 2 p.m. with guests from Guiding Star Baptist Church of Kansas City, Kan. Another service will follow the meal at 3:30 p.m.
One item that will be displayed Sunday has special meaning for Alice Fowler, who has been a member of the church for more than 50 years.
It's a full-size bed quilt, made by her grandmother in the 1950s, that was auctioned off years ago to raise money for the church.
The quilt has since found its way back to Fowler. It was given to her by Bertha Parker, a niece of the Rev. A.L. Parker, who was pastor at First Baptist for 30 years. He died in 1972.
Fowler's family background is entwined with the history of First Baptist. Her ancestors helped found the church in 1868.
First Baptist was formerly at 416 Lincoln, its home for many years. The congregation moved to 1646 Vt. in 1987.
First Baptist's founders set up the church in North Lawrence, according to Fowler, because members of the black community who lived there found it inconvenient to keep crossing the river to attend Ninth Street Baptist Church, 847 Ohio, which was founded in 1863.
"I am very proud to be a member of First Baptist, both for my family's involvement here and because it gives me pleasure to serve the Lord," said Fowler, chairwoman of the church's history committee. "We open our doors and our hearts to everyone."