Our Story


On January 27, 1879, 26 people met at the home of Mrs. T. W. Swift on Roberts Street, in Fargo, North Dakota to organize the First Baptist Church.  By summer they were meeting at Chapin's Hall known as the Opera House.  When cold weather came, they moved to McHench Hall on Main Avenue.  The Church was meeting there when their first supply pastor, Rev. George Vosburgh, came from the east to Fargo on business and supplied the pulpit during his stay of several months.  The following summer (1880), the first Sunday School classes were held.  The Church was incorporated on July 20, 1881.

A new building at the corner of Eighth Street and First Avenue South, Fargo, was started in the summer of 1881 and was completed and occupied before winter set in.  In 1904, construction was started on a new building at the same location.  It was dedicated on May 14, 1905.  The old church building was moved to the east end of the lot, to form the rear part of the sanctuary.  In 1925, the Church embarked on building an educational wing.  On January 30, 1927, the educational wing was dedicated.  Sunday School enrollment was over 300.

In January 1929, the Church celebrated its 50th Anniversary.  March 20, 1949, the 70th Anniversary was celebrated.  In the spring of 1952, the mortgage on the educational wing was paid.  A mortgage burning ceremony was held on May 7, 1952.

In 1956, the city engineer condemned the sanctuary building, which had been weakened by heavy snow.  It was subsequently torn down.  A new sanctuary was built and was dedicated on May 17, 1959.  On March 13, 1971, there was another mortgage burning ceremony.

Because of reductions in membership, First Baptist purchased the present building at 1501 17th Avenue South in Fargo, from the Mormon Congregation in September of 1978.  Remodeling was begun in November of 1982, and the project was dedicated May 1, 1983.

The previous sanctuary on Eighth Street burned January 25, 1981.  The educational building was torn down and the corner cleared, leaving only a lovely weeping birch tree to remind us of our long heritage on that site.  The tree is now gone, leaving only a parking lot.

One link to our long history is an old pulpit made by James Campbell, a charter member.  The beautiful piece is displayed proudly in our Narthex, along with an antique deacon's bench, which was also an integral part of former sanctuaries.

On May 14, 1978, First Baptist celebrated its centennial as a congregation.

In 1984, First Baptist was privileged to host the 100th Annual Meeting of the North Dakota Baptist Convention.

In May of 2004, the church celebrated 125 years of ministry and dedicated a stained glass window, which had been preserved when the second sanctuary on Eighth Street was torn down.  The window had been packed away for over 50 years, and it was cleaned, repaired, framed in oak and hung in the sanctuary with lights behind it, restoring it to full glory once again.

In May of 2009, First Baptist celebrated its 130th year as a congregation and dedicated a tree in memory of long-time member, Mary Gibb.

On July 21, 2013, the Reverend Doctor Victor (Vic) Lehman announced at the 10:45 am worship service of the First Baptist Church that the Lord was calling him to another ministry and that he would resign as of the last day of August 2013.  With a mixture of joy and sorrow, the congregation had a celebration of Vic’s twelve years as pastor of First Baptist Church of Fargo, North Dakota on August 3, 2013.

The Church Council appointed the Reverend Dr. Thomas Shaffer, D. Min. B.C.C. as interim pastor of First Baptist Church and selected a Pastoral Search Committee.  The Search Committee is composed of the following members:  Elaine Ackerman, Scott Bauer, Laura Dankmyer, Becky Davis, Linda Kegel (Chair), Paul Kegel, Jack Kist (Vice-Chair), Walter McDuffy,  Fair Meeks, Kim Miller and Kate Ulmer (Secretary).  The Pastoral Search Committee had its' first meeting on September 12, 2013.

Through God's hand, the committee felt that Tom Shaffer was the "candidate" that they felt God was leading them toward. Reverend Dr. Thomas Shaffer, D. Min. B.C.C.  was made our current Pastor. 

In June of 2016, Pastor Tom Shaffer asked the Council to assemble a Pastoral Search Committee. Committee members assembled: Scott Bauer (Chair), Mike Lehmann (Vice-Chair), Rhonda Bauer (Recorder), Jack Kist, Mitch Bauer, Linda Kegel, and Christiana Steffens. The committee received applications and worked down to the top 5. Thru the process, all 5 declined.

Our executive minister, Randy Rasmussen, explained about a program (The Kairos Project) that Sioux Falls, SD Seminary has (similar to what he had gone through in his seminary yrs) and many congregation members had asked about a current student in our membership. Mike Lehmann was formally asked and after days of prayerful thought, Mike agreed to submit an application and resigned from the committee. Jack Kist became Vice-chair. We took Mike through the interview process, checked references, etc, as we would for any candidate. Feeling this was in God's hand, the committee recommended Mike Lehmann.

On July 2, 2017, the First Baptist membership voted to hire Mike Lehmann as Co-Pastor with Pastor Tom Shaffer through the year 2017.

Pastor Tom Shaffer tendered his letter of retirement on August 1st, 2017, retiring as of September 15, 2017. The letter was read to the congregation on August 20th, 2017 by then-current Moderator Scott Bauer. On October 6th, FBC held a retirement party for Pastor Tom Shaffer. 

Pastor Mike Lehmann is the current pastor as of July 1st, 2018.

2019 was our 140th Anniversary and we look toward 2029 for our 150th Anniversary.



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