WARRENSBURG - Tucked away behind Warrensburg's firehouse is a modest clapboard building, which many have passed by for years without taking notice.
As of this Sunday, it will have housed Warrensburg's Faith Baptist Church for its entire existence of 40 years.
For four decades now, Faith Baptist Church of Warrensburg has been host to hundreds of adults singing praises and taking Bible courses, children learning spiritual concepts, couples taking marriage vows, students studying lessons and a wide array of church functions.
And at the helm of the church over the time span of Faith Baptist's history, has been one pastor, Lee B. Call, the church's founder. While at most congregations, pastors move on or are reassigned after a number of years, Call has kept on shepherding his church.
On a recent morning, Call said he felt he was called to serve a long tenure in Warrensburg.
"God has been good to us," he said. "There have been a long of different things we've been able to do.
He said that the church has pursued many functions and ways of reaching out to people over the years, but the church's purpose has been steadfast.
"It's been a challenge at times, but we have a great group of people here, there's a oneness of spirit," Call added.
Call, 69 years old, originally moved here in 1968, after graduating from Gordon College in 1964 and ministering in Baltimore, Md. with Youth for Christ.
In 1970, he launched the church, originally titled Mastering Life's Challenge, a congregation with an emphasis on youth outreach.
In 1978, Call took several years off from his church to obtain a degree from Dallas Theological Seminary.
He returned in 1981 to resume his pastoral duties. At this time, he established the Warrensburg Christian Academy to provide a spiritually-based alternative to public school. At this time, the congregation was re-named Faith Baptist Church. During these early years, he led an effort to build a second story to the original church building and in 1985, a new church sanctuary to the southeast of the original sanctuary was constructed. During the peak years of the Academy, it had an enrollment of 42. The school lasted until 1997 or so, when falling enrollment meant tuitions weren't sufficient to support two to four teachers.
Faith Baptist, however, continued its emphasis on youth, with its outreach activities and spiritual education classes. Now, the church offers a Monday night pre-teen program, and a Friday night session for teenagers. Activities centered on youth include not only Sunday school but picnics, skits, youth all-nighters, rock-a-thons, skits, outings, Vacation Bible School, camp sessions, and Christmas programs.
Attendance at the church averages 40 to 50, with the congregation growing to 70 people or so on occasion.
For adults, the church offers Ladies' and Men's groups, men's breakfast sessions, prayer meetings, choir, Bible studies, dinners and family nights, Call said.
"We try to minister to people any way we can help them," he said, noting the church participates in an active missions program that spans five continents. The church also reaches out locally, providing services for nursing homes.
In addition, Call conducts a radio program at 91.9 FM named Faith at Work. Plus, Call provides personal counseling that's Christian based.
"I really believe the Bible has so many guiding principles for life - it's the manual for living in this world," he said.
Church anniversary activities scheduled
Sunday Oct. 17, the church is welcoming all in the region to help celebrate their anniversary. At 9 a.m., a breakfast will be held, followed by a special anniversary service at 9:45 a.m. At 10:45, morning services will be offered. At 2 p.m., the congregation will hold a Church family dinner, which others may attend. At 4 p.m., gospel singer Jay Witham will perform.
Last Monday, Call wandered through his church buildings, recounting the various activities of his congregation.
He paused and gazed past the pews, donated years ago from several other churches.
"This was my vision, this was what I was called to do," he said. "It's been a great experience."