Swars Prairie Baptist Church is preparing to celebrate its 150th anniversary and the celebration is so big it will take two days to do the job.

Swars Prairie Baptist Church is preparing to celebrate its 150th anniversary and the celebration is so big it will take two days to do the job.
The celebration will take place on Saturday and Sunday, June 2-3, at the church, located at 4482 Highway DD, south of Seneca. On Saturday the festivities will begin at 5 p.m. and then continue at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
Swars Prairie was founded on June 25, 1868, just three years after the Civil War. A group of believers met on that day at Liberty School House and established the United Baptist Church of Swars Prairie. However, the church name was changed two days later, becoming the Swars Prairie Baptist Church.
Six years later, in 1874, the membership had grown to 69. The congregation built its first church house in 1879 at a cost of $400 cash for materials, and used volunteer labor for the construction. That original building still stands and is now a ladies classroom.
Money was tight for the church in the early days. The minutes of the church in 1881 listed the salary for the janitor at $1 per month. The 1888 collection for the pastor's annual salary was $5.
The church has had more than 60 pastors. The current pastor is Jarel Burnside who will preside over the sesquicentennial celebration.
The Saturday festivities will start at 5 p.m. with free hamburgers and hotdogs. A gospel concert will begin at 6:30 featuring "The Lesters," from St. Louis, one of America's most popular gospel groups. Also performing will be the "Spring City Quartet," a regional favorite from Joplin.
At 2 p.m. on Sunday there will be a walk down memory lane. Former pastors and other special guests will share memories and stories of the 150-year history of the church.
The public is invited and urged to attend any or all of the weekend events at the church.