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Baptist Church Awaits The Flood

Scheduled to be torn down after January 1, the Tebo Baptist church and adjoining cemetery will be relocated to make way for part of the Tebo arm of the Kaysinger Bluff Reservoir. The 129-year old church is one of the oldest in Henry County.

From The Kansas City Times, Thursday, Nov. 20, 1969

Story by Jean Haley

For a larger view, click on the picture


Tightwad, MO--If the Tebo Baptist church near here is left standing, it will be buried to it's door top soon under tons of water.

The grounds of the 129-year old church and cemetery about four miles northwest of here already have been purchased by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers as part of the Tebo arm of the Kaysinger Bluff reservoir. The reservoir now has a completion date of 1977.

Moving Cemetery, Too

The small community at the edge of the Ozarks intends to build a new church, move the cemetery and keep the name of the creek, used for generations as a baptismal stream.

But an excess of time and shortness of funds impede the relocation.

"We've known for 10 years," explained Morris Sheek, chairman of the building committee and the board of deacons. "But this dam has been talked about for so long before they ever started on it. Persons say they're going to donate when the building gets started," he continued. "They've talked so long about the dam and they keep putting it off, people are kind of pessimistic about it."

Although the government took and option three years ago on five acres for a new cemetery about two miles southeast of the old site, the sale of the 1-acre church ground was not completed until July.

Related to a Founder

Mrs. Jennie Sheek, great granddaughter of a founder and first pastor of the church donated an acre of land for the new building next to the prospective cemetery.

Mrs. Sheek, 76 year-old mother of Morris Sheek, is sorry to see the landmark go. Like other community residents she has a sentimental attachment to the modest white building. "It's just like losing my teeth." she commented. "I've been a member for 68 years."

Moving the building would have been cheaper, but members voted 20 to 1 to build instead of moving the old structure. "It still would have been an old building," noted Mrs. Morris Sheek. "The church is in bad shape. We've been planning this for so long, but we couldn't put any improvements on the church. We couldn't add classrooms. We knew it had to be torn down sooner or later.

Still Short of Funds

The last five years, building fund collections were taken up, now totaling about $5,000. With the $10,500 from the government, the sum has allowed the church to begin excavating for the basement of the new 1-story frame building. Bids for relocating more than 600 graves will be accepted in July.

The money was a fair price for the property, community leaders agree, but it won't pay for a new, larger, modern church. We estimate it will cost $22,000," Sheek said. "We'll have to borrow the money, I suppose. I don't think it's so much--other churches in the city go into debt for $60,000 and up. If we have to borrow $10,000 to finish and equip it, it will take us a long time to pay for it, but probably no longer than in the large cities."

Although many of the 60 members work in nearby cities and attend school outside the community, they want to keep the old church. Former residents return to the church for its annual home-coming. Some have sent donations, including several persons from Greater Kansas City.

"They just don't want to do away with Tebo," Sheek repeated. "They'd rather build than try to join in with other nearby churches.

As Ten Year Step

"I think," he added, "with the help of a lot of individuals, we can make it, but it might take 10 years."

"The Army Corps of Engineers leased the old church back to the community for $15.00 until the end of December. Construction has been slowed due to bad weather, and the new church probably won't be finished in time," Sheek said.

Church officials will seek an extension of the lease. Despite the delay, the Sheeks and the rest of the small community feel more optimistic now.

"We've waited for this new building for a long time," the younger Mrs. Sheek said. "It just seems like a dream coming true."

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