West Side Baptist Church is an independent, autonomous Christian church of the reformed Baptist tradition which cooperates in mission support through the American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA) and American Baptist Churches of the Central Region (Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas). The Church partners with more than twenty local, national and international service agencies to fulfill our goal of leading people to faith in Jesus Christ and improving our world through humanitarian work of compassion.
Our Purpose: We exist to love God, help others love God, and build a better world by loving our neighbors.
Our Story -On January 1, 1881, a Baptist church for the Swedish-speaking community in Topeka was established by eleven families. They decided to name the church “Forsta Swenska Baptists Kyrkan” (First Swedish Baptist Church) of Topeka, having the word of our Lord Jesus Christ as its only authority for its faith and practice. The first church was erected on the southwest corner of 6th and Fillmore streets. Due to membership growth, a new church was dedicated in 1890 and built on the local of our present site at the corner of 4th and Fillmore. A fantastic example of living our Vision and Purpose began in May 1917 when the congregation decided to have services in English rather than Swedish every other Sunday evening. The church grew and prospered, and in March 1919, a new church building was constructed on that same site. In 1923, again seeking to win and nurture others in the love of Jesus Christ, the congregation changed the name to West Side Baptist Church and soon after, all services were conducted in English. Today, we appreciate the magnitude of those decisions.
From those humble beginnings, the Swedish Baptists were committed to carrying the banner of the cross to the people of Topeka. Over time a new parsonage was purchased and later sold. A pipe organ was installed, an education wing added, a gymnasium built, and the sanctuary refurbished. More recently, a new entrance and parking area were built on the north side of the property. Our building was made more accessible with the addition of an elevator and new handicapped-accessible restrooms.
A passenger van was purchased in 2014 and also converted to handle a wheelchair. The van is used to provide transportation to and from church activities and on mission trips. Volunteers built a garage to house the van on the church property. In 2015 new carpet was installed in the sanctuary and nursery.
A few years ago, the congregation studied what it means to be a “missional church.” in this changing world and thus adopted a theme of “Building Bridges for God’s Glory.” In the spring of 2015, the church conducted a self-study and again focused on how best to realize our vision and purpose in today’s world. We concurred that our strengths are our mission-mindedness and actions, loving and supporting attitude and fellowship, and sincere prayer life.
The neighborhood mixes older, established middle-class homes and other more transient areas with rental houses and a changing population. The Church hosts various activities designed to connect with our neighbors and children over the years, including an annual Easter Egg Hunt, summer carnival, ice cream socials, pancake breakfasts, rummage sales, and Heartland Traveling Day Camps, Halloween Trunk or Treat, and more. The Church welcomes numerous groups to use the building, such as the Capital City Men’s Barbershop Chorus, Sweet Adelines Women’s Chorus, Taking Off Pounds Sensibly (TOPS), Ward Meade Neighborhood Improvement Association (NIA).