Church Turns 65 – The Iola Register

MORAN — It’s important to love people where they are in life and allow God to make whatever changes are necessary to help them grow, according to Pastor Mathew Kalmeta of Midpoint Baptist Church in Moran.

The church celebrates its 65th anniversary with special services at 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Sunday morning, followed by a meal and celebration. Kalmeta and his wife, Amy, are compiling a special video about the church and its history to share with the congregation.

The history of the church is about loving people and offering hope as they search for answers, Pastor Kalmeta said. And just as people grow and change, so does the church itself.

IN AUGUST 1957, the Reverend Monroe Landers pitched a tent on a vacant lot on Main Street in Moran and began holding revival services with Brother Fred Holmes, pastor of a Baptist church in Edna, according to an article in the register of 2007, when the church celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Moran Baptist Church received its charter on September 15, 1957.

Landers and Holmes soon rented a building on Main Street, with Landers as pastor, and later moved to 308 N. Spruce St.

The founding members were William Hayden, Dorothy Hayden, Hettie Hayden, Nattie Hayden, Laura Freeman, Levi Freeman, Landers, Margaret Kilmek, Inez Siefker, Irene Siefker, AW Siefer, Hilda Siefker and Bessie Head.

Landers only served as pastor for about a year, followed by a series of others with relatively short terms before Robert Means took over in 1967. He remained with the church for 18 years, taking his retired in 1985.

Pastor Michael Miller also served for a time, taking over in 1994. He served as pastor during the 50th anniversary celebration in 2007.

Kalmeta came to the church in February 2019, after changing its name to Midpoint and moving to a new building at 3965 US 54 in 2017.

A few years earlier, the congregation had shrunk to a minimum of about 25 people. By the time Kalmeta joined, the church had averaged about 90 members. Today, Sunday service attendance averages around 140.

Kalmeta attributes this growth to a commitment from the entire community.

“Honestly, it took a lot of sacrifice and giving,” he said.

It’s also part of what drew him to Moran.

KALMETA graduated from West Coast Baptist College in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Biblical Studies. He served as a youth pastor and site church pastor in a suburb of Portland, Oregon when he learned he needed a pastor at a church in a small town in Kansas.

He waited two months before submitting his resume and admits it was quite an adjustment for his family. He and Amy have four children: three daughters aged 13, 11 and 8; their son was born after they moved and is now 2 years old.

“Now I can’t imagine being anywhere else,” he said. “We are here to stay.”

Midpoint members come from a fairly wide geographic area, which is why the name has been changed.

Kalmeta thinks they are drawn to the church for a number of reasons.

“On the one hand, it offers people hope. Many come looking for answers. We can find all the answers in the scriptures,” he said.

Midpoint is also family-centric, with an emphasis on programs for the whole family.

“A community is only as strong as the families in the community,” Kalmeta said.

Midpoint offers services for children of all ages, including a Midpoint Kids service for children in kindergarten through fifth grade and a teen ministry.

“We also have members who have been here almost from the start. It’s not just one age group,” Kalmeta said.

And, ultimately, maybe members come to church just because it’s God’s will.

“Maybe God is bringing them here,” Kalmeta said.

“We’re here to make sure everyone grows in their relationship with Jesus, and to know how life-changing it can be to have that relationship.”

Jerry B. Hatch