The Clearwater Baptist Church dismissed 26 members for the purpose of organizing the new church. The following were charter members: J.M. and Roxana Jones, Mary and Moses Parker, E.R. and Sallie Harrington, W.M. and Anna Wolcott, A.M. and Susan Halsey, Abram and Jane Nighswonger, Theodore and Anna Kerr, W.M. and Anna Nighswonger, Solomen and Ada Nighswonger, T.C Maggie Harrington, C.C. Harrington, J.W. Harrington, Lena Harrington, W.P. and Salina Davis, and Ruth Adams.
The first deacons were J.M. Jones and Abram Nighswonger. The first pastor was W.W. Dorman.
For several years the meetings were held in the County Line School House. In1892 a church building was completed being located one-half mile south, and two miles east of Viola. Later a Sunday School was also maintained at Viola.
In 1910 a parsonage was built at the south end of Main Street in Viola. In 1920 the church moved from their county location to Viola, meeting in what was called the chapel building, also located at the south end of Main Street.
In 1923 the name was changed from Ninnescah to Viola Baptist Church, and on October 26, 1924, the present building was donated at a cost of $8,400. The first meeting held in the new building was a prayer meeting.
In 1941 , the sanctuary was decorated in spatter paint by Rev. Bailey. This still remains around the baptistery today.
An organ was purchased in 1954. A recital was held in dedication.
Another stepping stone was accomplished in November of 1963 with the first printing of church bulletins. On December 6, 1964 the church had the privilege of ordaining Rev. John J. Bliss Jr. Following the ordination service a reception was held in the church basement.
New pews were purchased for the sanctuary in 1964. The old pews were donated to the New Testament Baptist Church in Truth or Consequence New Mexico. Two men came from that church in a borrowed 1952 Chevy truck. spending the night and returning home with the pews the following day.
In 1966 water became available through the city, and the church gratefully “hooked up”.
In March of 1968 the church was incorporated. Also that year flags were purchased for the front of the church, and the basement windows were bricked half way up. Storm windows were put on in June.
Carpeting was installed in 1970 giving the church a new look , and easier floor care.
The year of 1973 proved to be a busy one, beginning with January with the paneling of the basement walls, and tiling if the basement floor. In February the church took part in the formation of a “Community Concern” group made up of two members of our church along with two from the Presbyterian Church. In July, the church received the piano which is in use today. Closing the year in December, the side walks around the front of the church were completed.
Efforts to reach out to members of the community included the presence of a contemporary gospel music group , “The Last Psalm” in the spring of 1975. This group inspired many young people of the area with their Christ-centered music. In the fall of 1980 a Halloween Party was given for the area youngsters with an enormous turnout.
In 1982 a young people’s class was organized, meeting during the Sunday School hour.
In March of 2000, a new sound system was installed in the church. The new system allows recording of services, high quality playback of tape and compact disc, and much more. One exciting feature is the assisted listening system that enables those with hearing impairments to hear the services quite well.
In January 2001, a Wednesday night youth Bible study was organized. The group lead by Rev. Jim Gooch, met from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
In mid 2001, pianist Karen Gooch started a church choir. The choir practices on Wednesday nights at 6 p.m. It has been well received, with members from the Viola Presbyterian, and Milton Baptist Churches joining in to help sing. The choir has presented two cantatas – a Christmas cantata entitled “Carol of Christmas,” and an Easter cantata entitled “Lamb of God.” They have also preformed at the Viola Easter Sunrise Service, and the area Baptist Koinonea service.
The church installed a large sign by the highway on the east side of the building in April of 2002. The 4 ft by 8 ft double sided illuminated sign was donated in memory of Gene A. Parker.
We can read between the lines of this history much that has not been written. We can see the toil and sacrifice, the devoted hearts of those who loved their Lord, and sought the establishment of the Kingdom of God in hearts and lives of men.