W. J. Kermott’s pastorship of Omaha Church (1869)

Mr. Barnes, who had been struggling for three years against difficulties sufficient to have conquered a man of less determination and force, upon the dissolution of the church, withdrew to other fields of labor. From this time until the early part of 1866, the Baptists of Omaha were without a church organization, when another attempt was made, the prime movers being Mr. Henry Hickman, Mr. Darius Pierce, Mr. Dort, and Mr. Peckham. The first of these canvassed the city thoroughly, endeavoring to ascertain who had been members of the original church and who of them remained. Of these he found eighteen. Organization was effected in March, 1866, the Rev. W. J. Kermott, who had been laboring in New Mexico, was chosen pastor, and preached in the court house hall from June to December, 1866, when the congregation adjourned to the new frame building they had erected on Davenport and Fifteenth streets, a movement being instituted almost immediately toward the erection of the present church structure on the same site.

In this work, the chairman of the building committee was Henry Hickman, who, acting in accordance with the wishes of his associates, obtained a plan and specifications from a Chicago architect, and superintended the laying of a foundation at a cost of about $1,100, the frame building being removed to the opposite corner. For reasons best known to those who were leading members of the church at that time, the original plan was subsequently abandoned, the foundation being altered and enlarged to suit the architecture of the building, since erected. After remaining in an unfinished condition for some time, in consequence of lack of funds, the church was only completed for occupancy, in 1869, and not altogether finished until 1880.

It is a very fine brick structure, with a seating capacity of 1,200 and cost, altogether, about $36,000.

The Rev. Mr. Kermott remained with the church until October 14, 1870, being succeeded by the Rev. J. W. Daniels, who left for new fields, after a year’s labor; the Rev. E. C. M. Burnham had charge of the church from November 19, 1871, until March 21, 1872, after which it was content with irregular supplies, until September 13, 1873, when the Rev. John Donnelly accepted the pastorate, retaining it until the 1st of October, 1874, and being succeeded by the Rev. O. T. Conger, who officiated from November 22, 1874, to March 1, 1875. The next incumbent was the Rev. Lloyd Morgan, who left after a service of four weeks. After a short interval the Rev. E. H. E. Jameson assumed spiritual charge of the congregation, his term of office extending from August 15, 1876, to August 29, 1880, the Rev. W. J. Harris, on December 5 of the same year, assuming the duties of the office which he still retains.

The church, since its organization has, upon a number of occasions, been very near bankruptcy, an incubus of debt having been hanging over it for fifteen years. It is now in a very fair condition. The present membership is about 250.

This excerpt is from a history page for Omaha Neb.


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