Religion feature: Congregation looks forward to church’s June opening

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks A Clovis crane crew installed a new steeple for the Landmark Baptist Church’s new building on Williams Street. The new church will seat 100 and should be ready to open its doors by June.

By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent

When Lisa Kia stopped at the Clovis Landmark Missionary Baptist Church on Tuesday, and saw a gleaming white steeple placed on the building, she got chills.

Knowing the process Kia and others went through to see this accomplishment, it would be easy to understand her excitement.

The church on Williams Street, west of the post office on 21st, is still a work-in-progress. Kia and other church members are hoping the first services to take place in June.

In the meantime, the 30-plus Landmark members will continue to worship in their temporary location: a meeting room at Wayland Baptist University in Clovis. That’s where services have been conducted for the last three years by pastor Jack Spencer.

“We had some folks out here that went to some of our churches before. They wanted one (a church) and found a church in Arkansas willing to send a missionary out here to start one,” said Spencer, who was the missionary.

Prior to the Landmark congregation’s present affiliation with the American Baptist Association, the roots of the church were Sunday meetings of three Clovis families.

Kia and her daughter, Katie Bussard, were among the original founders along with the family of Randy and Amanda Johnston and the family of Curtis and Melcena Johnston.

The first meeting of the three families was on Easter Sunday of 2005.

“Back in 2004, we began looking for a sponsoring church. So this has been going on a long time. We were actually meeting in homes,” Kia said.

Kia recalled that it was a common belief on how services should be conducted that led to the formation of the new group.

“It goes back to our hymnals, instead of the projector with the music on the wall. We prefer traditional piano and organ music rather than a band and all that,” she said. “We’re just a little more conservative.”

The land for the current church was purchased a year-and-a-half ago. When the steeple was lofted by a crane onto the building Tuesday, members of the Arkansas Mission Builders were on hand to see that part of the construction completed.

“None of us are carpenters by trade,” said Graham Patterson, a former steelworker who retired in 1998 before moving into his current profession. “Oh, I love it. We’ve met some of the most wonderful people. We’ve met friends that we’ve had now for 11 years and I’m sure we’re going to continue to meet some more.”

When Patterson and his Arkansas cohorts return to Clovis, their new friends at the Landmark Missionary Baptist Church will likely have regular services in the new building.

“It’s been a long, long trek, but we’re really excited,” Kia said.