Through twelve pastors, two buildings, and one hundred and ten years,
our goal has always been the same:
To bring the love of Jesus and the Word of God to the Mission Valley.
Under the direction of Reverend Victor Sherling in 1938, the First Baptist Church was reorganized, independent of the Northern Baptist Convention. It was in March of 1943 that the church voted to fellowship with the General Association of Regular Baptists, under the leadership with Reverend Lawrence Zeltner of Kalispell. Through the ministries of Reverend Harry Buerer (1941-1945), Reverend M.O. Burman (1946-1949), and Reverend Frank Peterson (1949-1954), the church continued to advance in vision.
Shortly after Reverend Elvon Nelson became the pastor, the church withdrew from FBHM support, assuming full support of their pastor. Realizing the need for more space, application was made to the Baptists Builders Club for help with a grant of $1 ,500 approved. This provided the encouragement to go ahead with the plans for the new auditorium built at the Seventh Avenue location. The first workday was July 20, 1957 and the greater part of the work was completed by the fall of 1958. Many folks, in and out of the church, donated materials and labor to make this building possible. It meant sacrificial giving for all the church members, but we rejoiced in the Lord who gave grace for this important step of advance in the life of the church.
That building dedicated September 20, 1959 was 36 feet x 50 feet, including the auditorium, pastor's study, and furnace room. The Mother's room extended out to the south and the foyer to the north. The interior mahogany woodwork was finished in natural color, blending with the light oak floors and pews. A modern oil furnace heating system was installed for both the old and new buildings. The exteriors of both buildings were matched with horizontal white siding. Though the actual cost was something over $11,000, much donated labor and materials made its worth considerably more. The church received an offering on September 20, 1959 toward the securing of a parsonage, which they did. The present parsonage was vacated and utilized for Sunday School rooms. The Building Committee for the 1959 expansion included Ray Redeker (Chairman to December 1958), Harold Hyer (Chairman 1959), Walter Haack, and Paul Metzger.
Unfortunately, during the ministry of Pastor Ronald Stabbert (1959-1962) the church went through a difficult split. Then, under the leadership of Pastor Zane Bull (1962-1965) the church was reunited.
Pastor Laurens Edwards (1965-1977) was called to the ministry in Polson and arrived on December 5th, 1965. The church was growing. They were holding Sunday school in the old parsonage, and the floor was rotted to the point that chairs were falling through the floor. So, they decided to build the education unit. It was finished with all volunteer labor. During this time, the church also began a Christian day school.
The Lord moved Pastor Edwards in 1977, and that same year Pastor Rudy Ringhoff began his ministry at First Baptist Church. In 1987, the church celebrated its 75th anniversary.
In 1985, plans were begun in earnest to secure property and build a larger building. Just less than 3 acres were secured from Ken Soward on the South Shore, Highway 35. Ground was broken on May 15, 1988 and building was begun with the assistance of seven retired couples from the Mobile Missionary Assistance Program of Pasadena, California, including Pastor Rudy Ringhoff's parents and uncle. Using funds gathered through a "Vision to Build" campaign, families committed themselves to give over and above their normal giving for 156 weeks. The present building was occupied in September of 1989, having been constructed primarily by the donated labor of the dedicated men and women of the church. The building was paid for in 1990, after extending the commitments for an additional year. In 1995, Pastor Don Valen was hired on as the Youth Pastor. He served in that capacity until 2006 when he took a pastorate in Washington. A 55 x 90 foot gymnasium was constructed in 1996, with additional restrooms and joined to the fellowship hall with a structure that enlarged the kitchen, provided equipment storage, and one classroom. Until Christ comes, we pray it will be a place where the believers in Christ meet and the Bible is carefully taught leading many to faith in Jesus Christ.
In September of 2007, Pastor Scott Craven came to serve as the Youth Pastor. He served under Pastor Rudy's leadership until December of 2009 when the Pastor Rudy passed away unexpectedly. Pastor Scott served as the interim pastor for most of 2010 and accepted the position of Senior Pastor in November of 2010. First Baptist Church celebrated it's 100th anniversary in the summer of 2013. In the July of 2014, Pastor Evan Dexter became the Assistant Pastor. He served in that capacity until November of 2021.
The first meeting of the First Baptist Church of Polson was held on December 12, 1912, with Reverend Thomas Huxley of Kalispell presenting the message. The meeting took place in the McIntyre Building on B Street. Brother Fred Brueckman, who went home to be with the Lord in early September 1959, was instrumental in gathering this first group and was the acting pastor for the first two months. After meeting in other churches and rented halls for seven years, it was decided in May 1919 to build a church at First Street and Seventh Avenue West, "no less than 26 feet x 36 feet." Which they did! Brother A.B. Morris, who passed away in 1961, was the pastor during this period of growth.
In the intervening years from 1919 to 1939, however, there came many trying experiences — not enough money to pay the pastor, long periods when the church had no pastor, and a period when the church almost lost its identity in union with the Presbyterian church.