Carson City Baptist church held first service 50 years ago
What is now Mountain Vista Baptist at 1750 Mountain St., in Carson City has gone through its share of transformations over the years. It was 50 years ago on this date, April 20, 1969 that the first service at the current facility was held when the congregation then met as First Baptist Church.
Two members who are still members of Mountain Vista Baptist Church who were members at that time at First Baptist Church were Les and Bobby Patterson, who have been married for 53 years. They talked about their experiences during that time of transition.
Les is actually a charter member of First Baptist Church, which was officially organized on March 26, 1954 with 30 charter members. Larry Fisher was the first pastor. On Feb. 3, 1954 the leadership of the developing church voted to raise Fisher’s salary to $15 per week.
The church began in a three-bedroom house. A sanctuary was eventually built on Minnesota and Telegraph adjacent to the house. Records for First Baptist Church from about the time of 1958 to 1966 don’t exist.
That’s because they were destroyed in an explosion and fire that destroyed the church in the early afternoon of Nov. 3, 1965. A gas leak in the basement where the hot water heater was caused the explosion.
It’s believed a valve from a line that was no longer being used in an alley adjacent to the church that was improperly shut off led to the leak going into the basement of the church, causing the explosion.
C.R. Gibson, the pastor at the time, had just left the church to have his hair cut at Les’ barber shop in the St. Charles Hotel where the Fox Brewpub is low located. Gibson was having his hair cut by Les’ partner, Jerry Furlong, the uncle of current Carson City Sheriff Kenny Furlong.
Gibson couldn’t have been at the barber shop for more than 15 to 20 minutes after the church exploded. Less said Furlong had just “started up one side” of Gibson’s hair “when the thing blew up.”
“It totally destroyed it,” said Les about the explosion destroying the church. “It was scattered all over the neighborhood. There was nothing left of it.”
Bobby and Les said God’s protection was still at hand for Gibson and because no one was injured by the blast. A teenage girls group was scheduled to meet in the church about an hour after the explosion happened. Students who would have been walking down the street by the church had yet to be let out of the elementary school about a block away.
“Very fortunate,” said Les, who added the explosion happened on a Wednesday. “It was quite an explosion.”
Debris from the explosion such has hymnal pages were found as far away as the Capitol.
Gibson led the process of buying the property on Mountain Street where the church is now located shortly after the explosion. In the meantime places where the church met included the current Seventh Day Adventist Church on College Parkway and a warehouse located in the area where Lowe’s and Office Depot is now.
Les’ father, James Pat Patterson, better known as Pat or J.T., was among the leaders in the church who led the effort in the development of the current Mountain Street building. Among those who participated in the groundbreaking was Gov. Paul Laxalt.
Bobby and Les don’t remember much about that first service on April 20, 1969, noting the congregation had been dealing with transition for a while.
They do remember when the church began to meet in the Mountain Street sanctuary, there were folding chairs on a concrete floor. Pews and carpeting didn’t come until the early 1970s.
“There was nothing remarkable,” Bobby said. “It was just one more transition. I’m sure we were really happy to have a building and I’m sure it was an exciting time.”
First Baptist Church merged with Capital Baptist Church last summer to become Mountain Vista Church and the congregation continues to meet in the Mountain Street sanctuary.
“What a great location,” Bobby said.