[Note:] This article was written shortly before the Centennial Celebration, June 30, 1940.

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Sunday, June 30th, marks 100th year for Influential Pioneer Church--Chas. F. Thomas, Ordained at Tebo, to Preach Saturday Evening, June 29th--Basket Dinner at Noon Sunday--Church Redecorated for Celebration--Former Pastors to be Guests

Tebo Baptist Church, oldest church in the Tebo Association, hallowed in memory, its history mellowed by many generations of Christian men and women, who have interpreted His Book to their best ability, will celebrate its Centennial, Sunday, June 30.

For 100 years this pioneer church has stood a beacon to Godly men--holding aloft the strictest Christian beliefs--the guiding light of a whole community. Down through the years that light still shines among men, unchanging, a pathway to weary feet, a solace to God-hungry souls.

Tebo, cloaked in history and romance, is on a grassy knoll, in the center of a quiet, wooded section on Big Tebo Creek in Leesville Township. The church faces south with Big Tebo to the west, sweeping around a bend, it's swift current slowing into quiet waters beside a sandy island where many baptisms have been made since the church was founded. The cemetery lies to the right. Black oaks shade the northwest corner of the church, a big ash and smaller oaks temper the summer sun and break the winter winds. Under this inviting shade a basket dinner will be enjoyed Sunday noon, following the Sunday morning service.

Saturday evening the address will be given by Rev. Chas. F. Thomas of Holly, Colo., who was ordained at Tebo.

Past ministers, who have been invited to attend, include: Revs. Emmett Farrier, of Warsaw; J. E. Turnage, of Liberty; L. A. Brown of West Lacok Texas; A. M. Wynkoop, of Eudora; H. F. Phillips, of Mt. Vernon; E. F. Hood, of Norborne; R. I. Clemings, of ElDorado Springs; J. I. Tate, of Edgar Springs; Lee Penney of Bolivar; J. A. Leonard, Aledo, Ill.; Nelson Engelbrecht, of Clinton; T. F. Simmons, now past 80 years old and retired, of Bolivar.

The membership has tirelessly cooperated in preparing the church for its Centennial. It has been repainted white, and inside the woodwork has been made a dark buff color and the walls repapered in soft tones of tan and rose, the rose-tan window curtains freshly laundered, floor scrubbed and everything is in spotless readiness. The church is lighted by three gasoline lamps centrally located in the church. A reminder of former times remains in the wall brackets attached to the window frames, which held the kerosene reflector lamps of years gone by. The interior work was done by Mesdames Lee and Virgil Ashley, Homer Carleton, Ray Berhard, Robert and Gene Belton, Minnie Wallace, Pete Summers, Claude Inloes; Misses Tracy Orton, Margie Delozier, Marcia Merrill Ashley, Elizabeth Belton, being assisted by Messrs. Gray Lawler, Lee and Virgil Ashley. The first coat of white paint on the outside was put on by Hayden Wallace, Marvin and Rufe Delozier, Rolla Hopkins, Bud Moore and Claud Inloes. Lee and Virgil Ashley and Hayden Wallace completed the outside paint job last week.

First Tebo Church

Tebo Baptist Church was organized in 1840, the work of Daniel Briggs and a few earnest men and women to whom the vast stretches of native prairie and the solitude of virgin forest made their preservation from danger seem only through His care, and fostered in them the need of a shrine in the wilderness where He could be worshiped in truth and humility.

The first building was of logs, native to the land, and typical of the era. A big chimney, with wide fireplace, gave warmth and on its puncheon floor stood split log seats, benches and rude pulpit. Used as a house of worship on the Sabbath, it also served as the first school in Leesville township, taught by Robert Briggs.

Tebo was originally a primitive Baptist Church and its members rigidly observed the church doctrine which not only included constant attendance and wholehearted support of both church and Sunday school, but also a strict adherence to a high standard of home life.

Records dating back to April 10, 1884, outline the Tebo Church's 10 "articles of faith." About June, 1906, began the minutes of each church service which were kept by Rev. R. Jenkins, first moderator, and T. S. Ashley, clerk, [according to records at hand].

Strict Discipline

These early Christians were stern in their interpretations of the gospels. Adherence to duty and Christian conduct allowed no deviation from established rules with judgment on backsliders unrelenting and condemnation for error swift.

In the early church history are many instances where "the hand of church fellowship" was withdrawn--causes for which scripture could be quoted. The records concerning such cases reveal great human interest and weakness to which the flesh has been heir since earliest history. One man was excluded from the church for refusing to be reconciled with a "brother." In February, 1908, the church voted to "withdraw the hand of church fellowship from him for departing from the faith," for he had broken the law to "love his neighbor as himself," and "to dwell at peace with all men." The rites of the church were denied those guilty of breaking the seventh commandment or bearing false witness, as the ninth commandment warns against. Again there was an instance of a member being ejected for showing contempt of the church, indifferent to the admonition of Proverbs 15-5 that "a fool despiseth his father's instruction; but he that regardeth reproof is prudent," 15-4 also, "a wholesome tongue is a tree of life; but perverseness therin is a breach in the spirit."

It was often moved that the deacons look into the report that "some of our Members have been swearing and drinking." "Walking disorderly" was also cause enough to be ejected from the church and charges were preferred for fighting and using profane language, or disregarding the proper observance of the Sabbath by working or indulging in unapproved pleasures.

At one church service it was moved that a wayward member be given one more month to appear before the church, but as he did not respond, he was removed from the church on charges of drinking, swearing and "absenting himself from the church." Non-attendance and non-support were dealt with vigorously. Truth was named freely and error was never glossed over. Temperance was also emphasized, even as the Lord admonished Aaron in Leviticus 10-9.

Second Church Building

In 1855, a neat, frame building about 24 X 40 feet, was erected at a cost of about $600.00. Services at this time were conservative primitive Baptist type, as they considered it unessential to have church societies, Sunday schools, missions and theological seminaries. At the death of Rev. Briggs, however the members, desiring Elder W. A. Gray for their pastor, voted to take the name Missionary and join the Tebo Baptist Association.

J. L. Briggs, son of Daniel Briggs, was the third pastor, being here until 1871, when Thomas Briggs took the charge. About five years later, the church was divided because one group of members did not believe in secret lodges. These people, under the pastorate of J. L. Briggs, who disbelieved in such societies, organized a separate church and met for two years in the same building. As long as J. L. Briggs lived, this body met separately and they constructed another building about 50 yards northwest of the original Tebo Church site and at the latter location Rev. Thomas Briggs continued to preach.

Bitterness and dissension were laid aside at the death of J. L. Briggs in 1887 and the two sections again united with Thomas Briggs as their leader. He was beloved by his congregation and at his death was buried under the site of the pulpit of the first church where he had so faithfully preached. This spot is now in the well kept cemetery east of the present church.

Large Membership

From the beginning, Tebo had a comparatively large membership, its first members being the sturdy pioneers who has passed through real hardships, building into their character a steadfast determination for progress. Records give as the original members besides Rev. Daniel Briggs, the first pastor, his wife Caroline, and William Butler, John Anderson, Mary Putnam, Robert Briggs and Zachariah Fewell. As others came into Leesville township from their eastern homes they sought a place for worshiping their Master, finding the Tebo Church a temple of comfort both in fellowship and spiritual contact. Even before the highest peak in membership reached by Rev. Simmons from 1907 to 1913 there were 112 in 1882. Although some are in far away homes and many dead, over 500 names are on the books as members. Even without a pastor now, the Sunday school is composed of a group of between 60 to 75, who devoutly and conscientiously work toward keeping Tebo a strong and holy sanctuary.

From the time of its organization, Tebo Baptist Church has had among its members a Briggs preacher, until the death of Rev. Billy Briggs earlier this year. His two sons, Jim of Lamonte, MO., and Henry, of Osewatomie, Kans., were both ordained at Tebo in 1912. These are great grandsons of Daniel Briggs, whose determination and faithful efforts helped to bring about the organization of Tebo 100 years ago.

Homer Delozier, of Lamar, MO., and Hugh Sperry of Clinton, were ordained at Tebo. To those also invitations have been extended to be "home" for the centennial celebration.

Outstanding Ministry

Rev. T. F. Simmons, under whose pastorate Tebo Church flourished, followed the ministry of Rev. R. Jenkins, who sowed in the hearts of his congregation the seeds of repentance and filled them with the desire to turn from worldly things. Rev. Simmons found a rich harvest, reaping an increase in membership and capacity attendance at the church to hear the Gospel--the bread of life--and God's voice calling them to repentance and to renunciation of their sins.

Other pastors at Tebo included: Ed Russell, R. K. Tinsley, L. T. Barger, J. H. Phillips. Nelson Engelbrecht preached until about three months ago, ans as yet Tebo members have not called their future pastor.


The Revivals, sometimes simply referred to as "meetings," had an important part in building Tebo. The people, then as now, quickly responded to messages of the true salvation, and were eager to reconsecrate themselves to their Lord. It was not unusual for the church to be packed to overflowing, as night after night some missionary or pastor, his whole being filled with zeal for his divine calling, gave them gospel messages of eternal life. At these times the hitching racks on either side of the church and even the fence about the cemetery would be lined with carriages, wagons, buggies and saddle horses. Others came on foot to drink at the fountain head of truth. The meetings extended two, sometimes three weeks, depending on how great was the need. Revivals were usually held after harvest of the small grains, when the congregation could devote its every energy to God.

Present Sunday School

The excellence of their Sunday school attendance is due to their splendid corps of workers: Superintendent, Robert Sheek; teacher of the men's Bible class, Elmer Huston; women's Bible class, Mrs. Robert Sheek; young men's, Bob Lawler; young women, Miss Elizabeth Belton; intermediate, Tracy Orton; young married women's, Mrs. Gray Lawler substituting for Miss Naomi Snow; juniors, Miss Ruth Mantonya; primary and beginners, Miss Dorothy Orton; pianists, Miss Orton and Mrs. Sheek.

Men who have held the Sunday School Superintendency includes; J. B. Higdon, John Renfro, J. H. Wear, A. G. and R. I. Sheek, Olin Gray, R. G. and Gray Lawler, C. E. Briggs, A. W. Orton.

The church has had but two treasurers, G. W. Denison before the present treasurer, R. E. Huston.

Those chosen to be deacons at Tebo have included Daniel Briggs, J. E. Delozier, Huston Burrus, J. B. Higdon, G. W. Denison, W. J. and R. E. Huston, T. G. Ashley, A. W. Orton, R. D. Belton, C. E. Briggs.

The present Trustees are S. L. Ashley and Gray Lawler; deacons, Elmer Huston, Robert Belton and Art Orton.

The Centennial Planning committee included: Gray Lawler, R. E. Huston, Lee Ashley, Ike Moore, R. G. Sheek, and R. D. Belton.

The music committee was Dorothy Orton and Ada Carleton.