Enumclaw’s First Baptist celebrates 50-year annviesary

It would warm Edgar Vanlandingham’s heart to see First Baptist Church celebrating its 50-year anniversary.

It was about 19 years ago on his death bed that Vanlandingham prayed the Enumclaw church he helped found would continue, his daughter Lois Osborn said. She too is a founding member and was honored during the congregation’s celebration May 2.

“He’d been unconscious for about two days. I had sat with him and when he woke up he said the most beautiful prayer,” she said. His second prayer, she said, was for his family.

“The lord has honored it and blessed it,” the Rev. James Dunn said of Vanlandingham’s prayer.

Osborn, the only charter member of the 27 original founders who is still attending, said the family moved to Enumclaw from Texas and found the nearest southern church – Baptist, Methodist, Church of Christ – was in Auburn.

They and others started the First Baptist Church in the Seventh-day Adventist Church at the corner of Griffin Avenue and Franklin Street. They shared the space with the Seventh-day Adventists until they purchased five acres at its current location on Porter Street heading north out of town. The sanctuary there was built in 1965 and the fellowship hall followed 10 years later.

According to Dunn, the church was constituted May 5, 1961. He said it was a mission its first year and continues its missionary work. Since 2005, members have brought their message to India, Russia and Paraguay and are planning the next trip to Israel.

Dunn, who has been with First Baptist for nearly a dozen years, is the 14th called pastor for the church.

At the anniversary celebration, Dunn called his message “A Lighthouse for Fifty Years” and focused it on reaching people.

He said in the past 50 years, 911 people have come into the church, some have passed away, others have moved away, but the church has remained a family-oriented center for those who worship.

In the past 11 years, he said, they have baptized 172 people and seen a number of transfers.

“God wanted us there,” Osborn said, as her father’s prayer continues.

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