Two pioneer Baptist preachers, Jeremiah Farmer and W.P.C. Caldwell, and two deacons from the West Fork Baptist Church (now First Baptist Church of Raytown) decided to organize a church closer to their community. The new church, named the United Baptist church of Jesus Christ, was constituted on Monday, July 10, 1848 with 12 charter members. Their first meeting place was in the Blue Ridge Meeting House, a one-room log school/meeting building belonging to the community, where they were allowed to hold their meetings once a month. Within a year, James J. Robinson was ordained to the ministry and became the first pastor in 1849.
In 1853, Solomon Young donated land on which the first church was built, along with an adjoining cemetery. Although the building is now gone, the cemetery is still in existence on Grandview Road, slightly north of the intersection with Blue Ridge Boulevard.
By 1861, church membership had grown to 62, consisting of both African American and Caucasian members. Support of missions came early in the life of the church when it joined with the newly formed Blue River Association’s missionary efforts in the region.
With the advent of the Civil War, services were suspended due “to the current hostilities.” The church was reconstituted after the war in 1866. The community, and consequently the church members, were greatly affected by Union General Thomas Ewing’s Order Number 11, of August 25, 1863, which required the evacuation of all inhabitants of the farmland of Jackson, Cass, Bates, and parts of Vernon counties, Missouri. The purpose of this was to deny farmland and its products to Southern sympathizers in the area, and to raiders coming across the state line from Kansas, especially Quantrill’s raiders.
Many inhabitants were relocated to an internment camp in Independence. After the war, William A. Durphy was able to locate thirty-nine of the sixty-two pre-war members. Because the church building was beyond repair (Union forces had used it as hay storage for their horses), Solomon Young once again donated land on which to build a new building. At the congregation’s first meeting they adopted this resolution: “That we commence where we suspended and renew our regular exercises without any reference to the outside issues of any kind, with a determination to know nothing save Christ and him crucified.”
In 1891 the church moved to a new location at the corner of Main Street and Grandview Road in the newly platted community of Grandview. By the time the new building was completed in 1907, Grandview was a fast-growing farming community, and the church experienced steady growth. As time passed, the building was raised and a basement was added, as well as an addition to the back of the church. In 1913 the church name was changed to “Grandview Baptist Church.” By 1914 the church was able to support a full-time pastor.
In 1949, to meet the spiritual needs of a growing community, the church again undertook a building project, this time at the corner of 15th and Main Streets in Grandview. Some felt this location would be too far away, especially considering that many attendees lived within walking distance of the existing church. However the church visionaries led the congregation to see the bigger plan, and they stepped out in faith to build on the new site. Following in the footsteps of his grandfather Solomon Young, President Harry Truman contributed money to help the church purchase the land. A new building was completed in November, 1950. President Truman was present and spoke at the dedication services on December 24, 1950.
By the time the new church building was built, Grandview was considered a suburb of Kansas City rather than a rural community, and it experienced a spurt of growth throughout the 1950s, as did the church. As needs grew, the educational wing was added to the west side of the church in 1955. During this same period of time, the church started a mission in the Martin City area. Today that mission is a fully constituted church, known as Martin City Baptist Church.
The name of the church was changed again in 1963 to “First Baptist Church of Grandview.” During the 1960s, the community experienced some of its most significant growth. Many young families moved from Kansas City to new homes in the suburbs, including Grandview providing First Baptist Church with many opportunities for growth for the years to come.
To continue to meet the needs of members of the church and to expand ministry opportunities, in 2000, First Baptist Church added a multi-purpose building which included a commercial kitchen. This immediately proved useful for ministries such as Awana, Vacation Bible School, large church gatherings and other outreach events.
We are grateful for all the Lord has done in and through First Baptist Church in its 160 years plus of existence. Our church continues to remain committed to the word of God as true and authoritative for all of life and practice. We look back to the past with thankfulness, but we also look forward in anticipation. With a clear vision and a united people, we are confident in what the future holds, not because of our skill, but because of God’s power and grace.