THE AMERICAN BAPTIST CHURCH
A lot for a church site was donated by J. W. Palmiter. At a meeting on January 30, 1875, M. M. Prindle, E. Whitford, John Clark and Smith Bowen were appointed as a building committee. By the close of that year, the red brick edifice was completed, having cost, with furniture, $4,000. Its superficial area was 56 x 33 feet with belfry projection of six feet in front. The only church bell in the village was suspended in the tower. The church was dedicated to the worship of God on the first Sunday in March 1876, Rev. Walter Ross, pastor in charge. (The church was thus completed twenty years before the famous Kasson water tower, 1895).The church started with eleven members and Rev. E. Wescott was the first pastor. Church services were held in the Presbyterian Church building and then later in Coolidge Hall.
In the spring of 1884, Rev. P. W. Fuller was installed as pastor, and the church gave evidence of life and vigor. As of 1884, ninety-seven members had been admitted to membership. Thirty-nine members had been discharged by letter.
THE SCANDINAVIAN BAPTIST CHURCH
The origin of the Danish Baptist Church of Kasson is traced to a Danish Baptist family from Denmark and the labors of Jens Soren Lunn, who came to visit these friends and held services in their home. Souls were won for Christ and Jens Henriksen came from Clarks Grove to baptize the converts. This continued for some time, until in 1875 the group at Kasson asked the Clarks Grove church to ordain J. S. Lunn to the gospel ministry that he might serve them more fully. Thus their request was granted, and Brother Lunn then served as their minister.
In October 1876, the Danish Baptists at Kasson were organized into an independent church. They worshipped in the American Baptist Church (which had just completed construction of its red brick church building on the corner of 3rd Avenue and 4th Street NW), where they held their services Sunday afternoons.
THE MERGER OF THE AMERICAN AND SCANDINAVIAN CHURCHES
In October 1902, the Danish-speaking Scandinavian Baptist Church disbanded and united with the American Baptist Church to form the First Baptist Church of Kasson under the leadership of the Danish Pastor S. C. Nielsen. The following year the Scandinavian church building was sold to the 23 Norwegian Lutheran families of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church for $1,000. The mortgage on the Scandinavian Church was transferred to the American Baptist Church.
From 1907 to 1960 there were twelve pastors that served the church. On April 1, 1960, Rev. William L. Moser, of Bordentown, NJ, became interim pastor and accepted a call to the pastorate in August of the same year. He ministered until January 1962, and was followed by Rev. John G. Stock.
On Sunday afternoon, February 28, 1965, a capacity crowd attended the dedication service of the new church edifice. A ground breaking ceremony was held on Palm Sunday, March 22, 1964, when the first shovel full was dug by Frederick Benedix, building committee chairman. Besides the building committee and Pastor Stock, board members present were Paul Brown, Wesley Nelson, Matt French, Ralph Helmbrecht, Louis Lawson, and Stanley Jurrens. The building plans were secured from Church Enterprises Co. of South Bend, IN. The cornerstone was laid on November 1 of the same year. December 20, 1964, was the first Sunday the new sanctuary was used and the Bible School Christmas program, “The Voice of Love” was presented that evening.
A new constitution for the church was adopted on December 2, 1965, and became effective as of that date.
The original church building was torn down in the summer of 1968, and the area is now used for the church’s parking lot. The exterior of the education unit was remodeled to compliment the new building. The bell from the old church, along with the cornerstone and window sills, was installed in a memorial tower in the church yard.
The former parsonage across from the church was sold, and on March 16, 1971, Pastor Richard Johnson, his wife Beverly, and their daughters Mary Grace and Sara moved into the new parsonage, which the congregation had built on two lots donated by Chaplain John Larson, one of the church members and a grandson of Rev. S. Van Tassel, who also was guest speaker the day the new parsonage was dedicated. Landscaping was later added for both the church and new parsonage.
First Baptist Church prior to 1965
From October, 1979 to May 23, 1999 five other pastors served the First Baptist Church.
In 1974, the upper floor of the educational unit was extensively remodeled to provide new facilities for nursery, rest rooms, library, Beginner’s Sunday School department, and pastor’s study and office.
Pastor Steve Dawson and his wife Gina ministered to the church from May 30, 1999 – August 13, 2006. Dwight DePenning, from Pillsbury Baptist Bible College in Owatonna, MN, served as interim pastor until June 8, 2008.
Pastor Harley Betzolt and his wife Diane ministered at First Baptist Church June 15, 2008 – June 26, 2011. Pastor Dale Phelps served as interim pastor until January 27, 2013.
Pastor John Todor and his wife Mythyl began their ministry on Feb. 3, 2013.