A History of Temple Baptist Church
Fargo, North Dakota
May 3, 1992
On the occasion of retiring our mortgage debt
In 1958, Dr Milburn Calhoun, a family practice physician serving in the Air Force learned that he would be stationed in Fargo, ND. He had always had a strong leaning toward missions, and he had prayed to be sent to an area where Southern Baptist work was not strong. He knew his orders to North Dakota were a direct answer to prayer. He contacted the Home Mission Board and they replied that they had been contemplating starting a mission in Fargo.
When they arrived in Fargo, they joined First Baptist Church, and became active there. After a few months, a representative from the Home Mission Board came to Fargo and said they were now prepared to send a pastor if they were prepared to start a church.
At first, Temple Baptist Church met in Washington School on North Broadway. It had 12 attenders and members (increasing to 13 when the Calhoun’s daughter was born). The first pastor was Ruel Cook, who came to Fargo from Texas.
Soon a house was purchased at 624 25th Ave. N. and the church began meeting there. The basement held the Sunday School classes and the living room was the auditorium. Membership reached the 50’s while the church was meeting in this house. Negotiations were in process to purchase a large piece of property where the church now sits and the first part of the present building was constructed in 1961.
Through those years there were many challenges. The city placed large assessments on the property and eventually several lots were sold to pay of those assessments. There were also times when church membership was quite small. For example in 1967, job transfer created an exodus taking 8-10 families out of the church within a few months. Nevertheless the Lord continued to give Temple Baptist Church ministry for His Kingdom in the lives of people.
There were also causes for rejoicing. Many people were saved when they heard the gospel from the pulpit and in Sunday School classes at this church. There were also financial victories. On Dec. 28, 1975 the original mortgage was paid off and the church was for the first time free of debt.
Because the church was growing and because space in the small building was quite limited (especially for Sunday School classes), in 1978 the church incurred another mortgage to build the present two story educational space. Temple Baptist Church borrowed $133,000 for the project. It was a leap of faith.
There were times when that faith seemed to be presumption. A few times, payments were not made and funds were just not there. But each time when it seemed to be almost impossible, the Lord stepped in to provide money, encouragement and support for this work in His Name.
As the debt on the construction was being paid, in 1985 there was a major renovation done on the auditorium. It was enlarged, and improved by volunteer labor from the church and even from groups outside the state who came in teams to help with the project.
Today we celebrate the fact that the complete debt has been paid and we now can use the money God has given us for eternal investments in people and ministry. That is the part of Temple Baptist Church that is eternal. As much as the building is important and a real blessing, it is people that live forever.
It is the Lord’s work in lives to change them from sinners to saints – to give them salvation from the penalty of sin and new life in Jesus Christ that matters most. Yes, we celebrate the payment of our church debt, but more than that, we celebrate the opportunity to make greater investments in people. Investments that will last forever. Thanks for joining us in this celebration!
In His Service,
Durward (Dude) Garrett
Pastors for Temple Baptist Church:
Ruel Cook 1958-1964
Bill Walters 1964-1966
Don Holmes 1966-1967
Harold Weatherly 1968-1976
Dale Freeman 1976-1978
Charles Wilkerson 1978-1979
Chandice Johnson 1979-1983
Randy Chandler 1984-1986
Durward Garrett 1987-present