By KURT BEYERS

Special to The Hays Daily News

Under the theme of "Cherish the past -- Challenge the future," First Baptist Church of Hays will celebrate its 125th anniversary today through Monday with a special worship service, a Hispanic revival and an open house. Celebrations will culminate with a banquet Monday.

The Rev. Jerry Sprock is pastor of First Baptist, which is one of 5,500 congregations in the American Baptist Churches USA.

FBC Hays was founded on a Saturday -- April 28, 1883 -- with 15 members. The congregation built its first church in 1887, a stone building on the site of the current church at 12th and Fort.

It was one of the churches that gave the historic area its name of Gospel Hill.

The current church home was completed in 1949. The educational annex was built in 1927.

First Baptist Hays belongs to the American Baptist Churches of the Central Region, about 230 congregations in Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.

The weekend begins at 6 p.m. today with one of two Hispanic revival services. The speaker will be the Rev. Imelda Casarez. He is pastor of Fuente de la Vida Church in Dodge City.

The second of the two revival services will begin at 6 p.m. Saturday.

The speaker will be the Rev. Oscar Gomez, pastor of La Mission del Camino, an affiliate of American Baptist Churches USA in Lyons.

The speaker at Sunday morning's worship service will be the Rev. Martin Massaglia, who spent his teen years in the Hays church. He is now pastor of the First Baptist Church of Greater Cleveland, Cleveland, Ohio.

After the Sunday morning service, an open house for the community will begin in the church at 2 p.m. and run to 5 p.m., the regularly scheduled starting time for the Sunday evening Hispanic worship service.

The speaker for the 125th weekend service will be the Rev. Jose Carrillo, pastor of La Mission del Camino Church, Salina.

The Rev. Fred Ansell will be the featured speaker tat Monday's banquet in Fellowship Hall at First Baptist.

Ansell, retired executive minister of the American Baptist Churches of the Central Region, was also the minister at the Baptist Campus Center during the mid-1970s.

Tickets for the banquet, $5 in advance, $6 at the door, are available at the church. Call (785) 625-9454 or e-mail fbcays@ruraltel.net.