Missouri Baptists observe milestone with special events

Southeast Missouri is rich in religious history, and earlier this month the Missouri Baptist Convention kicked off its 175th anniversary celebration with special services at the restored Old Bethel Baptist Church near Jackson.

Other celebrations are being held around the state this year, including services Aug. 29 at Providence Baptist Church in New Bloomfield, Mo., marking the convention's founding in 1834. New Bloomfield is on U.S. 54 between Fulton and Jefferson City, Mo.

New Bethel traces its beginnings to 1806 when what is now Southeast Missouri was part of the Louisiana Territory. Bethel was the first Baptist church established in the territory. In recent years the historic church has been restored.

Missouri Baptist Convention churches are marking this year's special anniversary with a slogan: "One message, every seven days, five words: Jesus loves and forgives you." One. Seven. Five.

Not only was Old Bethel the first Baptist group west of the Mississippi River, through its missionary work it developed nine other Baptist churches in the area.

Congratulations to the Missouri Baptist Convention on its 175th anniversary. And hats off to the many volunteers who meticulously researched and restored Old Bethel Baptist Church.