Santa Fe’s Baptist Legacy

The First Baptist Church held services in a tent in Santa Fe in 1917.

The Baptist legacy in Santa Fe began in 1849 when the Home Mission Society built a church at Fort Marcy. It became the the New Mexico–Arizona Baptist mission. According to historical records, the Baptists sold the property to the Presbyterian Church on May 4, 1869 for $300. After the sale the Home Mission withdrew its support from a number of missionaries in the New Mexico territory. After the missionaries left, there wasn’t any active representation of the Baptist faith for the next 50 years.

A Tent Revival

It took half a century for the Baptist Church to return to Santa Fe under the leadership of Dr. E.B. Atwood. Dr. Atwood was the corresponding secretary of the New Mexico Baptist Convention in Albuquerque. Under his guidance the First Baptist Church of Santa Fe began on August 20, 1917, with 23 members. The momentum grew out of evangelistic meetings held in a tent that were the first tent revivals in Santa Fe’s history. For ten days church officials held services in a large tent on a lot located at Manhattan and Don Gaspar avenues. There were a number of Baptist families living in Santa Fe at the time who didn’t have a place to worship. With the tent meetings the First Baptist Church of Santa Fe became a reality.

The First Baptism

The baptism of Kenneth Euler at a pond on East Buena Vista Street in 1917.

After the tent service the first baptism of church member, Kenneth Euler, took place on East Buena Vista Street. The enthusiasm and hard work of the Baptist Church came to a grinding halt the following year. In 1918 the worldwide influenza outbreak led to the closing of many of the churches in Santa Fe. World War I began shortly thereafter and many church pastors and young men left the state to join the military.

A Permanent Home

The First Baptist congregation at their new church in 1921 at the corner of Don Gaspar and Manhattan Avenues.

The Baptists built their church on the same lot at Manhattan and Don Gaspar avenues where the congregation first met in a tent. The congregation held the church dedication five years later on August 7, 1921. The First Baptist Church persevered and grew throughout the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, and World War II. In 1955, they purchased the site of their present location on Old Pecos Trail. They dedicated the new church on December 11, 1960. In 2017, the First Baptist Church celebrated 100 years in Santa Fe and their legacy continues.

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