How it all started...

(Note: This history was compiled primarily by Mrs. Lavon Manasco with assistance from Mrs. Sue Gubbins (Bean) and Mrs. Bernice Cryder, updated by Suzanne Iberg.)
            The first Southern Baptist work in Trenton,  Illinois, began when  a  group of thirteen dedicated Christians  decided  to meet in the home of Kenneth L. Tyson on December 17, 1961. This launched the beginning of a Southern Baptist Church in this community. . .
The beginning is recalled by Mrs. Myrtle Tyson:
  • "In  1961,  a pastor from southern  Arkansas,  who  was formerly the pastor of my parents' church, moved to St. Louis,  Missouri.   My parents asked him to visit Kenny and myself here in Trenton.”
  • "We  were  attending. the First Baptist Church  at  the time,  because there wasn't any other Baptist  churches in  the  community.   There were three  other Southern Baptist families who attended also.”
  • “When  my  parents’ former pastor came to visit  us,  he expressed  a wish for a Southern Baptist  church  here. He told us he knew the missionary for  the area.”
  • "He  contacted  the Missionary and asked him  to  speak with  us.   The missionary came to us with a suggestion to  start a Southern Baptist Church and requested  that wenbsp; speak with other people who would be interested  in starting one.”
In  1961,  the Director of Missions for the East Saint Louis Association,  now  the  Metro-East Association  of  Fairview Heights,  Illinois,  was  Herbert Schmitz. Unity  Roselawn  Baptist Church, Fairview Heights, became the mother church. This  church, now  named First Baptist Church of Fairview Heights,  agreed  to supplement the pastor's salary  for  the mission.  The pastor of that church was James Mahoney.
Mrs., Tyson further recalled: 
  • "Unity  Roselawn Church agreed to help the mission  and four families began to meet in our basement.  They were the T. L. Tysons,  H. U. Waggnors, Leroy Lyerlas, and Archie Gordons.”
  • “During this time,  the Southern Baptist Convention was promoting church growth and West Gate was one of 30.000 churches started during a 10 year period.”
  • “From our basement, the mission moved to the factory.  A piano was added to the worship."
The  factory  Mrs.  Tyson  referred to was  the  Brown  Shoe Company which later became the baby buggy factory.   A  part of  this building was rented for seventy dollars a month for the purpose of holding Sunday and Wednesday  Services.   The move  to  the  factory  from the  Tyson's  basement  was  on February 25,  1962.  Reverend Vernon Covington was the first pastor of the mission.  He resigned. in May of 1962.
On June 27,  1962,  Reverend Dale Cook was called as pastor. He delivered his first sermon in July.  The  first mention of property purchased is recorded in  the December 6, 1962, minutes as “property purchased in October, 1962".    No other mention of property is noted.    From the indications of past records,  plans for the chapel were made as early as July, 1962.
Mrs. Tyson remembers:
"Finally  the ground was broken for the original  brick structure.   It  was a good feeling to see  a  Southern Baptist Church in town, but is was scary to take such a step."
Construction  of the new facility began in September,  1962. Brother  Dale  Cook took the mission through  this  time  of constructing the original brick building.   The building was similar to the Baptist Church of Dowell,  Illinois.  Brother Cook  did much of the work and displayed helpful  leadership during  the construction.   Love offerings were given to the, pastor for his work on the building. On  November 25, 1962 worship services were held for  the  first time  in  the unfinished chapel.   Upon completion  of  this building,  on December 19,  the mission was named
"WEST GATE BAPTIST  CHAPEL”.   Later that month,
on December  30,  the first baptisms took place.  
Those baptized were,  Joe, Jim, and Terry Cryder.
            Reverend Shaw Dement was called to pastor West Gate from August of 1963 to March of 1965.  Under his guidance, the hard work of the men and women of the church, and with a little help from our friends in the community, the parsonage was built.
            Brother Kenneth Wigger was pastor from September 1965 to February 1966.
            Reverend Ronald Shrum answered the call to pastor the people of West Gate from March 1966 to December of 1968.
            Reverend Richard Dillender pastored from March 1969 – December 1970, followed by Reverend Robert Hoffman who served from February 1971 – July 1972, and was also employed by the Wesclin School District to supplement his income.
            Reverend Lee Mauer pastored from August 1972 – August 1973.

             On April 16, 1975, under the pastorate of Reverend Delbert “Dusty” Gwaltney, the church voted to expand, adding an educational building to the east.  Here again, much of the construction work was done by the Pastor including electrical, plumbing, and heating system installation. During this time, the church grew and a period of spiritual victory and physical expansion continued bringing the church to record attendance and the construction of a new auditorium.  Bro. Gwaltney served from August 1973 – October 1977.
            Pastor John Lorch pastored West Gate from March 1978 – July 1983.  During the period of  1978 to 1980, the enrollment in Bible study went from 152 to 325 with 60 persons being baptized.   In preparation to build the new auditorium, God led many people to give “sacrificially” under the leadership of Pastor John Lorch and Music and Youth Director, Larry Rhodes.
            Rev. Harmon Mills served as interim pastor from uly 1983 – November 1983.
            Reverend Edsel Bone came to West Gate in  December 1983 and ministered until April 1985.  One of Br. Bone’s concerns was the number of unfinished areas in the new worship building.   One particular room was the “intercessory prayer” room.
            Reverend Eddie Miller ministered at West Gate from July 1985 until March 1992.  Much finishing of the new auditorium was completed during his ministry, and once again, the pastor provided much of the labor.
            Rev. Tom Rankin, Jr. served as interim pastor from June 1992 – October 1992.
            Reverend Mike May was our pastor until June 2012.  He was called in October of 1992, currently holding the longest pastorate in West Gate’s history.  During his pastorate, there were several building improvements, including the moving of the church offices.
           Reverend Paul Hooks is our current pastor. He was called to serve West Gate in August of 2012. He continues to deliver God's Word to the people of West Gate Baptist Church.
           Reverend David Clay served as our Pastor of Youth from September 2015 through January 2, 2019. West Gate had the honor of ordaining him as Reverend on March 9, 2018.
           Reverend Joshua Denham is our current Pastor of Youth and Music. He was called to serve our youth in and around our community in January 2019. He also leads our worship each Sunday morning.On August 26, 2001 a Purpose for West Gate was adopted:
To “Make Jesus L. O. R. D” (“L”ove God – Worship Him; “O”bey God – put faith into practice; “R”each the lost for Christ; “D”isciple Believers)!  On September 25, 2002 an EVANGELISM COALITION was formed, with a purpose of actively seeking out and reaching Trenton, Summerfield, and surrounding towns for Christ.
In January 2018, we adopted our mission statement:
"To Equip, Empower, Encourage, and Evangelize all people, for the Glory of God, to become fully devoted followers of Christ."

            God has established West Gate for ministry in this city and surrounding cities.  He is still at work reaching the lost, carrying forth the Gospel, ministering to the needy, and keeping the fellowship fires warm until His Son, Jesus, returns. 

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