First Baptist Church of Los Lunas to celebrate 75th anniversary

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The First Baptist Church of Los Lunas will celebrate its 75th anniversary from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, July 1.

Everyone is invited to come and celebrate with the congregation. A block party is planned with food and fun. Hamburgers, hotdogs, popcorn, snow cones and plenty of cool, refreshing drinks will be served.

Deborah Fox-News-Bulletin photo: Deacon Trenton Bock, left, Dorothy Hudgens, center, and Richard Kerr, right, longtime members of the First Baptist Church of Los Lunas, will celebrate the church’s 75th anniversary on Sunday, July 1.

There will be a dunk tank, a wet slide, inflatable jumpers, and games including horseshoes and volleyball.

First Baptist Church Youth Director Kyle Vatole will sing and perform with his guitar.

“Some of the music I’ll be doing is stuff I’ve written,” Vatole said. “And probably a few worship-type songs here and there.”

A deejay will keep music playing throughout the afternoon.

The church was founded in 1977 on Coronado Street, just off North Los Lentes Road, by five Los Lunas families. Land for the church was donated by Fred Huning Sr.

With help from Rev. Vander Linden and Deacons Hayden and Lambking of the Emmanuel Baptist Church in Albuquerque, now known as Highland Baptist Church, the first Baptist Church of Los Lunas was organized.

Rev. Paul Elmore was asked to pastor the new church.

“We now have an associate pastor of missions and education and his name is Darrell Overbey,” said Dorothy Hudgens, a member of the church for 56 years.

The church’s neighbor was a Catholic Church, and later, when the Catholic Church needed more land, the First Baptist congregation was asked if they would consider selling.

The property was sold for $55,500, and with land donated by the late N.C. Ribble, the church built a new building on four acres at 914 South Los Lentes Road, said Deacon Trenton Bock.

The new First Baptist Church of Los Lunas was completed in March of 1962.

Church members voted to start a mission in Los Chavez a few months later, and the Southland Church builders agreed to pay the first month’s rent on an old adobe building that had been a feed store. It is now its own church.

As the First Baptist Church congregation grew, the need for Bible study space was needed, and in 1978, the church purchased the adjacent Morgan building to use as a classroom.

“In 1987, we started a mission out at Meadow Lake, and it is now a church,” said Hudgens, who is a member of the historical committee. “It was the Good News Baptist Church, but they’ve changed the name.”

Several years later, the church bought 9.5 acres on the north side of the property, with the vision to start a Baptist children’s home to take in children and families in need.

“They’ve got a Baptist children’s home in Portales,” said Bock. “We’re trying to work with them to build some houses here on the 9 1/2 acres in the back part of it, for kind of a second location.”

The idea is to build small cottages to accommodate families in transition and battered women and their children.

Close to two years ago, a food bank was also started, and today about 60 families are served each month, said Bock.

Every Thursday food is bagged and given to anyone in need of food, Bock said.

“It all depends on donations, and what we can get from the Roadrunner Food Bank,” Bock said.

“We’ve done Samaritan Purse shoe boxes ministry, too,” Hudgens said. “Where they put all kinds of things in shoe boxes and they take them all over the world. Billy Graham’s son is in charge of that, Franklin Graham, and we do that every year.”

In the fall of 1992, a vote was taken to build an educational building, and construction of a 4,800 square foot auditorium commenced in August of 1993.

The educational building was completely paid off in 1999, said Bock.

In it’s 75 years, the church has had 20 pastors, a few of whom have spent 10 to 20 years with the church.

“Our future plan is to expand and build a newer, not necessarily bigger, but up-to-grade church,” said Bock.

“It’s important for us to celebrate the 75 years we’ve had here,” said Vatole. “But then to look forward to another 75 years and what we can do in those following years in reaching this community for Christ, and growing this church for Him as well.”


-- Email the author at dfox@news-bulletin.com.