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First Baptist Church celebrates 150 years

Earlier this year the Journal shared a story about the River Falls Methodist Church's sesquicentennial and its year-long activities.

There's another local church that shares that special and very often celebrated 150-year milestone: The River Falls First Baptist Church.

Led by Pastor Philip Bushy, he and the Baptist congregation have been hard at work planning a two-day celebration that will be held this weekend at the church, 814 S. Wasson Lane. And they invite all area residents to take part in the events offered.

"We've invited all of the former pastors and many former members of the church, some of whom have gone on to become pastors themselves," said Pastor Bushy. "We're expecting about 200 people from out of town, plus we're making a Bible conference out of (the event)."

Guest speakers include: Dr. Michael Windsor, a member of the local church from 1970-1973; Dr. Carl Sanders, former pastor from 1999-2003; Dr. Richard Averbeck, a member of the church from 1969-1972; Dr. Dell Johnson, a member of the church from 1963-1966; and Dr. Ron Johnson, who was raised in the local congregation when his father, Marvin Johnson, led the church for over two decades.

One member of First Baptist's congregation is Roberta Naujok. She and her husband Christopher have been members since 1998. Roberta is looking forward to the anniversary celebration.

"The church's anniversary is really a wonderful opportunity to meet many of the people that have been such a large part of this church in the past," she said. "(It) will be bringing together many former members who are now in the ministry themselves and I look forward to growing spiritually as I listen to the Biblical preaching of these wonderful men of God."

Photos of church-related events and printed materials have been put together in a memory book, according to Pastor Bushy. It will be on display during the weekend.

Naujok says she's had a part in creating the book.

"I have been very involved in putting together the history documents and pictures for this anniversary, and I'm looking forward to meeting the people about whom I've been reading," said Naujok.

"Our church's foundation is the Bible and that hasn't changed over the last 150 years," she said. "We gather at this anniversary to celebrate the Lord's enduring faithfulness -- his provision through good and lean times and his loving work in our lives."

Other activities will include meals which will be served both days: At 5 p.m. Saturday, July 21; and noon Sunday, July 22.

And Pastor Bushy made note of a special gathering at 2 p.m. Sunday.

"This will include testimonies from former pastors, missionaries and others in attendance that have been influenced by the ministry of First Baptist Church."

He likened the weekend to a "family reunion" of sorts and said even though some members may have moved out of the River Falls area, "...they still consider (First Baptist) their home church."

"This celebration will in many ways be a church family reunion, as there will be former members and friends from across the country for this special time of remembrance and testimony," said Pastor Bushy.

He particularly likes the theme -- "Holding Forth the Word of Truth Since 1857" -- selected by the church's anniversary planning committee.

"The theme reflects the church's focus -- the proclamation of the word of God," he said. "The word of God is sufficient for everything we need for life. (During the weekend) we will also find how the word of God can change one's life," which will be shared by those offering testimonials and the guest speakers.

For parents: Nursery and children's activities for all services on both days will be provided.

For more information about the two-day celebration, call the church at 425-5220.

Vera Roy-Stoeberl can be reached at or 426-1046.