The Chicaskia Baptist Church, Harper, has been a beacon of Christian light to many who have been dedicated, baptized, married, and laid to rest in this church.
There may be many people who still hold memories of this country church. A celebration on August 19, 2018, of the members past and present will provide an opportunity for the sharing of those memories.
Fifteen early settlers in Harper County, Kan., started Chicaskia Baptist Church after realizing the need of rearing their children in a church community. They met in the Star Center School, near the present site, on Feb. 11, 1880, to organize this church.
Expenses had to be kept to a minimum, so the first sermons were few and far between.
The first settlers walked to the schoolhouse worship services. Soon those walking to church rode in wagons and buggies. Horse and buggy days were replaced with faster cars. Kerosene lamps were replaced with electric lights, and the pump organ with a piano.
In 1883 the church started a Mission Station at the Enterprise School.
On Feb. 13, 1892, church members decided to build a house of worship facing the east across the road from the schoolhouse. It was completed in the fall of 1892 and was topped with a steeple.
On August 15, 1938, the church was struck by lightening and burned. On Oct. 13, 1938, plans for a basement were made. Men of the church furnished trucks and labor for the construction. Dedication services were held April 30, 1939, for the basement church. Thanks were given to congregation for their faithful labor.
During construction of the new church building above the basement in the fall of 1948, the group worked well together. As many as 16 men helped daily with the building while the women did their part by serving meals in the school house. The completed building was dedicated May 5, 1949.
On April 19, 1959, an all-day service was held for the dedication of a new addition to the church. It consisted of the kitchen, a room east of the kitchen in the basement, and the north addition upstairs for classrooms, library and the ladies rest room.
In 1979, an addition was built on the west side of the church to be used as the pastor’s study and counseling room. Donors provided the furnishings.
Chicaskia Baptist Church has endured the history of two World Wars, the Dust Bowl, a lightening strike that burned the church building in 1938 and the terms of the offices of President since Rutherford B. Hays.
Over the years, the church’s attendance has declined, and as people have left there have been no others to replace them. It is with sadness and regret that the church has closed, but the future of the church will continue in the witness of its members to others as the Gospel is spread to the uttermost parts of the earth.
(Sources: Mark Alldritt, Moderator, and from the church history in the 1997 church directory.)