The Choir

Methodists have always been a "singing people" following John Wesley's dictum to "sing lustily and with good courage". (From John Wesley's Select Hymns, 1761) The new congregation in Baldwin took Mr. Wesley seriously. Baker University, beginning in 1858, soon formed a musical alliance with the church. Lena Elder Fuller writes in Reminiscences of Baker, 1858-1862: "They (students) sung and prayed together in the little chapel of the building now designated as the 'Old Castle'." (page 126).

Ms. Fuller describes always having a choir of four that furnished music at the church with Miss Willey, soprano; J. C. Hall, bass; J. M. Caveness, tenor; and an alto, continually changing; and herself as organist. She writes that their first attempt to sing before the church was "rather tragic". After "setting the pace" for the congregation with a "fine old anthem", one gentlemen "rose majestically and reverently and marched solemnly down the aisle to the front door, got in his buggy and drove six miles to worship where his religious fervor would not be harrowed by the music of the d_ _ _ organ." (Page 126).

The church and the choir continued to grow as did the relationship with the Baker University music department. By 1928 music had become an integral part of the church budget with the following music items included: Baker University - $360, Summer Music - $60, Organ Upkeep - $100; Sheet Music - $30. The 1928-29 music staff included three directors: Dean Frank E. Marsh, Morning; Prof. Luke I. Gaskell, Evening; and Miss Helen Good, 7th and 8th Grade Girls Chorus. Miss Ruth E. Bailey served as organist.

The Baker University music department moved from Stone Hall to the Methodist Church in September 1936 and encompassed practically the entire building. Dr. William Rice, professor and chair of the music department at Baker University (1939-1973) wrote his memories of the church/school relationship in 1990. The following are excerpts from this paper:

"There were seven tiny and two fairly large rooms in the basement with a piano in each room. They were for student practice Monday through Friday and sometimes on Saturday. Sunday, everything was given over to Sunday School. Keeping materials separate was a constant challenge. Music education and music history were taught in one of the large rooms. The choir room was at various times a voice studio, or a practice and rehearsal room. Fellowship Hall was usually off-limits except in an emergency..... My office was the present church office. Beeks Chapel was a practice, recital and rehearsal hall..... The classrooms on the second floor were used for music theory and various other classes. The tower room was a piano studio as were the two rooms on the third floor. The sanctuary served as a recital hall and for organ teaching and practice.... Until Baker became a "suitcase school" with a weekend exodus, the sanctuary was crowded each Sunday with students and faculty.... The church budget benefitted because Baker furnished the heat and paid part of the electrical bill and the custodian's salary.......The principal church choir was the Baker University Choir. During the years when an evening service was held, an "evening choir" consisting of members of the congregation and college and high school students sang for the service.... During the 50's and 60's Baker students and faculty began to drift away from our church. It became increasingly difficult to maintain the Baker Choir as a church rather than a concert choir. A gradual transition was made by using what became the chancel (congregational) choir for more services."

And the transition became complete when the Baker Choir performed only at Christmas Vespers and other special services. The chancel choir maintains an active role in the worship services.


News Flash

Last Sunday of the Month


One worship service only

10:45 a.m. Blended Worship

Traditional Service at 8:30

We have added a traditional worship service at 8:30 on Sunday mornings. Our 10:45 service is still a contemporary/blended service. Come and join us for worship!

Food Pantry
A reminder that there is an increasing need for donations to the Food Pantry.  We are serving 100-plus persons each week.

Contact Information


704 8th St.
PO Box 25
Baldwin City, KS 66006




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