|Photo of Big Springs Cemetery|
|Big Springs Baptist Church is located seven miles southeast of Alcester, South Dakota. In the year 1868, the first Swedish settlers arrived in Big Springs Township or as it was then called, Union Creek. Nearly all were Baptists from the vicinity of Orebre, Narke, Sweden, and they had a desire to unite themselves into a Baptist Church Organization, which they did in July 1869.|
The organization of the Big Springs Scandinavian Baptist Church was held in a sod stable belonging to P. A. Ring who later became their first pastor. It was organized with seven charter members; Mr. and Mrs. P. A. Ring, Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Lindbloom, Mr. and Mrs. Peter Larson and Per Johnson. Others united with the church later that same year.
The first baptismal service was held on July 14, 1872, in the Big Sioux River with three candidates giving testimony to their faith in Christ. A number of others were baptized and added to the membership in the years shortly following that event. This fellowship which started with seven members has seen well over 1,000 baptized and join its membership over the years.
This continued growth proved to be a problem because the homes in which they met for worship where over-crowded, therefore they decided to build a church building. The considerable debate caused by opinions surrounding where they should build the new church was settled when Per Johnson donated the property for the edifice. The members rallied around the project and donated labor and materials for their House of Worship. The building was dedicated on June 7, 1874. This building now serves as Big Springs' township hall, it was vacated when in 1893 the continued growth of the congregation spurred the building of the present church structure dedicated in September of that year. This building has been remodeled and enlarged from time to time to meet the needs of the growing fellowship. The present structure recently carpeted, and air-conditioned, is a majestically beautiful place where people may come to worship Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour.
Big Springs Baptist Church has much interesting history surrounding its existence. Early in its life it associated itself with the Swedish Baptist Conference which later became the Baptist General Conference. It was the first Swedish Baptist Conference Church in the Dakota Territory and as far as this is known it is the second oldest Baptist Church still in existence in the Dakotas. In 1899 it was the site of the growing Swedish Baptist Conference's annual meeting. Christopher Silene, the first and only student John Alexis Edgren had in 1871 when he founded what is now Bethel Seminary, was pastor of Big Springs from 1895 to 1900. Bethel Seminary has now grown to be one of the largest evangelical seminaries in the nation.
A deep concern for missions both local and foreign has dominated the spirit of Big Springs over the years, and the Lord has blessed the fellowship because of the faithfulness to their calling. The church building was expanded in 1920 and again in 1965 the church sensed the need to expand its facilities. Big Springs Baptist Church celebrated its 110th anniversary in 1979. Over its 110 year history a series of 17 regular pastors have pointed the congregation to Christ. In an era when many country churches find the going almost impossible, Big Springs continues to go against the current. At present time its membership stands at its highest in over 30 years and attendance has risen consistently throughout the decade, to what is most likely an all-time high for its history. Its once distinctly Swedish character, though still present at times, has come to more resemble the "melting pot that is America" with a mixture of all people worshiping together.
[Source: Our Life 1882-1982 Akron, Iowa Centennial History book]
Added by: Rod
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