On November 16, 2019 we dedicated new front steps for our church, together with neighbors from the Interfaith Group and Riverdale 6th Ward who helped support the restoration.
Baptists, Latter-day Saints and Government Work Together
to Restore Iconic Church on 100th Anniversary
A Pastor’s perspective; Steve Tharp, First Baptist Church of Ogden
On July 10, 1881, Reverend Dwight Spencer, a missionary for the American Baptist Home Society, stepped into the cold waters of the Weber River baptizing the inaugural member of the newly formed First Baptist Church of Ogden. By the turn of the century, the church had outgrown their building at 24th and Grant Avenue and purchased property at 25th and Jefferson Avenue where the church stands today.
First Baptist Church has been in the Ogden community for 138 years and their tradition of serving the community continues. They established Camp UTABA, host community events and sponsor neighborhood breakfasts. This summer they started a bi-monthly “Hotdogs on the Grill” night for families in need, something they are moving indoors as temperatures drop. Pastor Steve Tharp believes that “as long as they continue to be a force of good in a hurting world, the Lord will continue to sustain their calling.”
The church is located in the Jefferson Avenue Historic District of Ogden, Utah. Like other 100-year old buildings, it needed some renovation. Tharp stated that his members quit using the front steps a year ago because they were deteriorated and dangerous. His aging congregation was unable to tackle the demolition and restoration project on their own and navigating the city permitting process was daunting. That’s when Tharp shared his concerns with a couple from the Utah Weber Communication Council of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Together, they formulated a plan that included both churches and Mark Johnson, chief administrative officer at Ogden City.
Johnson outlined how the churches could work with the city departments and the Historic District in renovating the steps and within weeks, the work began. Johnson remarked, “it was great to see different faith traditions working together to improve such a beautiful landmark in Ogden.”
Through all of this, friendships that have been built and barriers have been broken. On November 16th, the churches are celebrating the completion of the project with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, potluck lunch and tours of the historic building.
Tharp stated, “our faith teaches it’s not the stuff that you are able to acquire in this life that matters, it is the relationships that you take into eternity that really counts.”