A Brief History Of Our Church
After several trial meetings in the early 1950s, a sufficient number of Baptists had moved into the area by 1959 to consider trying to begin a Baptist work in Dawson Creek. In March of 1959, Rev. William Ryans, Pastor of the Fort St John Baptist Church, came to Dawson Creek to help establish a church. The services were held in the homes of participants on Sunday afternoon, since Rev. Ryans had to drive to Dawson Creek after church services in Fort St John. The Dawson Creek people also held prayer meetings on Wednesday nights.
In June of 1959, a young student minister, Bob McLaren, came for the summer. During this time we arranged to rent the I.O.O.F. Hall, which had formerly been an Anglican church, for Sunday services. Late August was a significant time for this fledgling congregation, as we welcomed our first Pastor, Rev. Donald Miller. It was largely through his unfailing energy that the work grew to become the present First Baptist Church.
In the first week of September, three girls from Baptist Leadership Training School in Calgary came to help with the Sunday School work. We enjoyed their singing and enthusiastic help for the year they stayed in Dawson Creek. We held Induction Services for Rev. Miller on Sunday, September 27, 1959, in the I.O.O.F. Hall. The Moderator for the Edmonton-Peace River Baptist Association of the Baptist Union of Western Canada, Mr. F. G. McCoy, conducted the service. Mr. McCoy’s daughter came to us from Edmonton in the mid-1960s and she and her husband are presently among our long-time members.
April 16, 1961 is memorable because we held the organisational meeting for First Baptist Church. Nineteen members signed their names to the church roll. Presently, we have four charter members, along with members of their families, still attending our services.
Another red letter date was the sod turning ceremony for the present building. This ceremony was held on June 10, 1962. Construction began almost immediately. With the completion of the building, we held a dedication ceremony on November 30, 1962. Dignitaries from Edmonton, Fort St John, Peace River and Grande Prairie joined representatives from the local ministerial association and the City of Dawson Creek for the ceremony.
During these early years we held morning and evening services, Sunday School, Wednesday prayer meetings, and Junior and Senior choirs. The church also conducted Stockaders for boys and Pioneer Girls for the 8 to 12 year olds, and Colonists for the 13 to 16 year old girls, in addition to Young People and Adult
In the summer of 1963, Baptist congregations from Peace River, Fort St John and Dawson Creek united to form Camp Sagitawa at Moberly Lake. For two years, the camp was restricted to boys. In 1965, we added a girls camp and a Young Peoples camp on the long week-end in September. With numbers growing each year, we began looking for lake front property. Seventy-five acres of lake front property on Moberly Lake was purchased in 1966. In later years, this camp amalgamated with the camps from other evangelical churches of the Peace Region to form Sagitawa Christian Camping Association.
A study and several Sunday School rooms were added to the church building in 1983, and seating capacity was expanded to 150. Over the past forty-three years, we have had six pastors to minister to us, and to the many guests who have shared our services as they travelled the Alaska Highway during the summer months. Many of these travellers have made a point of stopping again on their return journey. We hope to continue the practise of welcoming guests from around the world for many years to come.
Mrs. Muriel Price
Mrs. Kay Swanberg