Our Story

How it all started... This Fine Little Church

The year was 1908. Bread cost about 20¢ a pound, cornflakes were 10¢ a box, Coca-Cola sold for 5¢ a glass, and Hershey bars were 2¢ a piece as were postage stamps.

Henry Ford introduced the Model T, and our 36th president, Lyndon B. Johnson, was born near Stonewall, Texas. Jimmy Stewart, Louis L'Amour, Lawrence Welk, Bette Davis, Estee Lauder, and Milton Berle were all born that same year. Mother's Day was observed for the first time, and the famous Times Square ball debuted, ushering in the new year. Sears and Roebuck boasted of having the "largest mercantile plant in the world" and issued an 1100 + page catalog offering almost everything one could imagine, from canned goods to diamond rings. (A 1-karat diamond ring sold for $84.00!)

New Mexico would not become a state for four more years but had well-established cities such as Santa Fe (the oldest capital city in the US), Albuquerque, Las Vegas, and Raton. The total population of the state in 1900 was 153,593. If one glanced at an aerial view of the northern swath of Torrance County in 1908, one would have seen a cluster of homesteading communities with obscure and archaic names now gone: Hyer, Poverty Flats, Pleasant Valley, Venus, Frontier, Center Valley, and Mesa. Embedded within these farming clusters were pockets of Baptist families. Only the community names of Moriarty and Stanley remain.

Baptists have been present in New Mexico since the mid-1800's and the work had grown considerably by the early 1900s. In 1905, there were 44 Baptist congregations scattered about the state with a combined membership of over 2000. Early records sometimes conflicted with one another regarding dates and membership numbers. This is especially true of First Baptist Church, Moriarty. "Pick a date - any date" seems to be the way to look at it. Our beginning was in Pleasant Valley - a community nine miles east of Moriarty. 

According to A History of Baptists in New Mexico, by Lewis A Myers, a church was organized there in 1907 with a charter membership of 20. In 1917 the congregation moved into town, and the name was changed from Pleasant Valley to First Baptist Church, Moriarty. The first recorded activity of the church is in 1908 when the church accepted M. L. (Meddie) Lamb into membership by letter. The 1909 New Mexico Baptist Convention Annual lists Pleasant Valley as being organized in 1909, and the 1917 Baptist Convention of New Mexico Annual states that we were organized in 1910! However, other equally reliable sources document that "Moriarty First" was organized in 1908, and that is the date accepted by the church in its later documentation, such as church letters and other reports. The discrepancies in dates might be explained by inaccurate record keeping or the ebb and flow of congregations with no permanent church buildings at that point in time, and they may be due in part to the realignment of Baptist churches in the state from Northern Baptist to Southern Baptist in 1912. Even so, we know we were organized at least by 1908 because of early membership records.

Early on, FBC Moriarty met in the old Web Bean House.

How it all started... The Early Days

These were the days of circuit-riding missionaries/pastors/revivalists called colporteurs in the Estancia Valley. In 1917, W.S. Humble, a Baptist missionary, preached to the fledgling congregation of nine members who had moved in from Pleasant Valley to Moriarty, a community with ties to the Santa Fe Railroad. Eight additions resulted from the time he was there. Brother Gip Akin was called to lead this small Baptist flock that did not have a building of its own. Another Christian leader who labored in this area was Reverend W.C. Grant. He pastored several early Baptist gatherings: Venus (now Edgewood), McDonald, Center Valley, Encino, Estancia, and later, Moriarty.

Rev. Grant enthusiastically reported on an Estancia revival in August 15, 1917, Baptist New Mexican:

There was an old-time shouting, and the Holy Spirit was with Us. .. the sermon was filled with thought and spiritual power. After the sermon, four happy souls were buried [sic] with Christ in baptism.

In the summer of 1918, Rev. Phipps held a fruitful revival in Moriarty, according to the Moriarty Messenger. Revivals were held at the Methodist church building. The next decade brought a time of transition for this area's Baptists. Just as congregations were being established, a severe drought gripped central New Mexico.
This forced many farming families to move away, thus destabilizing the nascent churches.

The Baptist New Mexican reported:
...many of the people have moved away. We have many loyal Baptists in this valley and hope that the work can be taken care of in this crisis.

To compensate for this period of drought and depopulation, many congregations shared pastors and combined meetings. Holding revivals became a successful activity in promoting unity and cohesion among congregations. Baptists established churches, hired pastors, disassembled congregations, removed pastors, and hired them back with great rapidity. Moriarty First was no exception.

Several Valley pastors, like W.C. Grant, extolled the flock to persevere:

My heart is with you for the work in New Mexico. ..if we do our best, the Lord will do the rest. I am at your service...
May the Lord help every one of us to put our anxiety into action. I know these times are close in money matters. I pray for you and the work.
Baptist New Mexican, April 19, 1923.

How it all started... This Fine Little Church

Early records show several Baptist pastors preaching to the Moriarty congregation. Three leaders eventually brought stability into this and other county congregations: W.C. Grant, W.G. MacArthur, and L. W. Rowland. 

Like Rev. Grant, W.G. MacArthur had pastored many fledgling churches in the county and beyond and had directed the Baptist Children's Home. In March of 1934, after Rev. MacArthur preached a revival to the Moriarty congregation, seventeen "additions" were accepted into the flock - nine by baptism and eight by letter. Those included families who would eventually become the backbone of the Moriarty Baptist church: Kolb, Dean, Hawkins, Larson, Davis, Kimbriel, Lamb, Tillery, and Corfield.

Rev. MacArthur preached another revival in 1935, adding another eighteen to the church (Rev. MacArthur was somehow related to General Douglas MacArthur.)

Following these revivals, the church was reorganized in 1935 after a presumed time of relative inactivity (perhaps due partly to drought and the Great Depression). At that time, the congregation met in the Methodist church, but it was time they had a building of their own.

Land owned by George Woodman was acquired by the church in 1938, and a new adobe building was constructed by churchmen and readied for services.

How it all started... Community assistance 

The war years again saw the rotation of several pastors, but stability and momentum were gaining amongst the laity. By November 1943, Rev. Haile was preaching full-time at Moriarty. When Moriarty High School burned down in 1941, the Baptists turned the church into daytime classes for the MHS students.

Frank Larson, the father of Rev. Merrill Larson, was ordained as a minister. A budget was adopted, and debts were paid off. The Sunday school and Training Union continued growing.

The Baptist New Mexican, June 8, 1944, reported that the congregation celebrated a dedication to the church:

The Baptist church of Moriarty held dedication services last Sunday morning. The history of the church was read by the clerk. Rev. W. C. Grant spoke on "Remembering the Lord's Blessings." Executive Secretary Harry P. Stagg preached the dedicatory sermon on the subject." Looking to the Future - a Challenge." Rev. Frank Larson led the dedicatory prayer. Rev. Ralph Haile is the pastor of this fine little church. 

How it all started...

The church was incorporated in 1955. I.W. Pittman was called to be the pastor in 1966. "Smokey," as he was nicknamed, had the longest pastoral tenure in the church's history at 18 years. By 1957, portions of our present-day site had been donated by the Crossley and Bostwick families.

In November of 1962, the church began what turned out to be the first of a four-phase building plan. Phase 1 was the basement of our existing building complex and was built almost exclusively by volunteers. It contained classrooms and served as a temporary sanctuary until the upper floor - phase 2 - was built. It became sanctuary but is now a present-day office and classroom space. Phase 3 is the South hallway with bathrooms and classroom space, but originally, was yet another auditorium.

How it all started... present day 

 In 1989, under the leadership of Pastor Rodger Russell, Phase 4 - our current sanctuary - was completed and then dedicated on August 29. The new addition was built principally by four contractors who were also members -Bob Thompson, Bobby Salvo, Stan Huston, and Jerry Maxwell. In 1997, the new educational space was completed and dedicated, giving us the entire complex as it exists today.

As we look back at the last 100 years of history, we must give glory to God for his many loving kindness, blessings, and provisions over the years.

The Lord's lovingkindness indeed never ceases, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness!

Continuing the vision...

Acts 1:8, "but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

It has been said that Acts 1:8 is the key to the pattern for the rest of the book of Acts. And today, the work of God continues.  We seek to bring truth, hope, and love through the  Gospel of Jesus Christ to Moriarty-Edgewood (Jerusalem), the East  Mountains (Judea and Samaria), and even the remotest parts (New Mexico, elsewhere).

Love God.    Love Others.   Make Disciples.

Matthew 22 : 37-40

Where we are focused...

To glorify God in all things; helping all people come to the knowledge of saving grace in the Lord Jesus Christ. In order to accomplish this, we prayerfully seek to strengthen our congregation spiritually through:

- Knowing the Word of God and developing the ability to apply it in one's life
- Faithful prayer life
- Participation and leadership in small Bible groups
- Competency to counsel and encourage each other in the Lord (1 Thess. 5:14)
- Personal evangelism
- Commitment to Missions (New Mexico and around the world)
- Serving for the purpose of godliness

Be a part of our story...

Join us every Sunday as we gather to worship together.