During the turbulent times of the late 1850’s, a group of rugged pioneers left their farms in western Missouri, and crossed the mighty Missouri River into Kansas. They traveled to the High Prairie Township. Our church records show that faithful band of Christians wrote, “We do hereby agree to form ourselves into a congregation known by the name of The High Prairie Congregation of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and ask to be taken under the care of the Kansas Presbytery,” dated September 1857. The first church building was a two-story frame structure, which according to oral tradition, was either destroyed by a fire or a twister. The second building was a log cabin building although the precise records for both of these buildings have long been lost. This church building, according to some old timers, was located near the intersection of modern day Springdale Road and County 29. This second church building was destroyed by fire and a third building was built in 1895 at the present site. This third building still exists today and is used by the congregation.
At the completion of this third building, the church was named “The Gospel Tabernacle of High Prairie” and the association with the Kansas Cumberland Presbytery appears to have been dropped. During the next several decades, the little church continued to serve the Lord with a desire to be involved in outreach to the world as a whole. There are records showing offerings being given to the Gospel Missionary Union (now Avant Ministries) in the amounts of 27 cents, 43 cents and 47 cents dated 1898. These funds were designated for Morocco Mission, Foreign Missions, and Mission to the Indians.
During these years, many godly men filled the pulpit and offered sound biblical teaching and training for those in attendance. In 1969 in compliance with zoning regulations, the church was moved several feet from the center of County Road 29 and was placed on a new concrete foundation. In addition to the new basement for Sunday School rooms, a larger entrance, sidewalk, furnace, water system and more comfortable pews were added.
In 1986 the church called its first full-time pastor. Rev. Patrick Jones served the church as pastor until 2004.
In 1993 after having held two morning worship services in the original building the congregation decided to build a larger sanctuary. In the fall of 1993, the new sanctuary was complete, and the church enjoyed its new facilities. At this time, the church changed its name from The Gospel Tabernacle of High Prairie to High Prairie Church. The century old building is affectionately called The Tabernacle.
In January 2005, High Prairie Church called its second full-time pastor, Rev. J. Vernon Welkner. Pastor Welkner previously pastored churches in Florida, Georgia, and Missouri. In his previous ministry, he served for nearly nineteen years as the Associate Pastor at Sherwood Bible Church in Kansas City. He also served as part-time professor at Calvary Bible College. He serves with his wife Linda. They have four grown children and twelve grandchildren.
God has truly honored the vision of those who began this work so many years ago. It is our hope and prayer that when people look back to this period, we too will have been found faithful.