OGDEN — The First Baptist Church’s century-old front steps had crumbled so badly by last year that attendees quit using them because of the danger.
Pastor Steve Tharp recalled that his aging congregation was not able to tackle demolition and restoration on its own. Plus, they found the city permit process daunting.
But the historic church, home to Utah’s oldest Baptist congregation, was rededicated Saturday to cap an ecumenical project of collaboration and mutual respect between the Baptists and local members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Tharp said he mentioned his church’s dilemma last year to a couple from the Latter-day Saints Utah Weber Communication Council. That led to a plan by both churches and Mark Johnson, Ogden City’s chief administrative officer, to rebuild the steps.
The pastor said Johnson outlined how the church could work with city departments and the Jefferson Avenue Historic District to secure approvals, and the LDS members also helped with contractors.
Dave DeYoung, a local Latter-day Saints stake president, presented a donation check to Tharp before the two cut a ribbon on the new steps to mark the project’s completion.
Tharp told the assemblage of several dozen people that his church would use the donated funds for feeding and clothing the needy in the neighborhood.
He said the cooperation between the churches represented “a force for good in this dark and hurting world.”
“I want to thank our Latter-day Saints brothers and sisters who have prayed for us and joined us to witness the good in this world that comes from people who instead of dwelling only on the differences ... search for common good,” Tharp said.
Tharp also read from Paul’s letter to the Philippians and recited the Latter-day Saints’ 13th Article of Faith.
According to Tharp and information provided by the church, the church’s first pastor, the Rev. Dwight Spencer, baptized the congregation’s first member in the Weber River on July 10, 1881.
The church’s first building at 24th Street and Grant Avenue was outgrown by the turn of the century and the church bought the current property at the corner of Jefferson and 25th Street.
Tharp said construction of the current building began in 1919 and was completed a few years later.
After Saturday’s rededication ceremony, church members hosted tours of the building.