Leaf River Baptist Church
Mission: Guide people to a life of faith in Jesus Christ then on to lives that are fully devoted to Him.
In 1984, Pastor Appleby of the Byron Baptist Church, along with a core group of members, began a start-up church in Leaf River. They worshiped in the Bertolet Building in downtown Leaf River, with Pastor Appleby serving both Byron and Leaf River congregations. Soon after, the fledgling church invited Pastor Randy Newton, from Idaho, to become the first lead pastor of their church, although it did not yet have a name and was still forming.
Under the leadership of Pastor Newton, the congregation grew quickly, and by 1986 planned to buy land just outside of Leaf River on Mt. Morris Road, and started construction a church building.
The congregation, now known as the Leaf River Baptist Church, was active and grew in attendance up to 200. When they ran out of room, members worked together to add on to the building. However, tragedy struck on June 11, 1999, when the church was burned to the ground by an arsonist.
While settling the insurance and planning to rebuild, the congregation met in the Leaf River High School, at a truck shed in Forreston, and a Christian camp in Adeline. But, without a church home and unable to carry on their mission and ministries, attendance dwindled to less than 50.
Sustained by prayer and plans for the future, the congregation began a slow rebirth and built a new church on their property – the current church building. In 2019, Pastor Newton retired, and the Leaf River Baptist Church is now led by Pastor Billy Hardy.
The Leaf River Baptist Church is a vibrant, active congregation, known for their hospitality, prayer, and strong children’s and youth ministries.