Discover God's story in Kansas City.

The Spiritual Roots of Kansas City

One hundred years ago, Kansas Citians referred to their city as “the prophetic city.” Why? Why did this name fit the city?

Discover the greater faith story of Kansas City impacting your life every day.

The Spiritual Roots
of Kansas City

Use the lens of history to examine relevant topics facing the church today. Each chapter comes with discussion questions, making this book perfect for your classroom, small group, or Bible study.



Bill High and Annika Bergen deftly navigate the Church’s history within Kansas City. This book is highly recommended for anyone wishing to delve into the rich history of Christianity in this region.

The Book

Sermon Resources

Guide your church into Jesus’ heart for the city as you teach them what He has done in Kansas City in the past. Inspire them that He can do the same again! Download two sermon guides and photos to equip your preparation.

Download Sermon Kit
You’ve probably heard the statement “To God be the glory!” The word glory means adoring praise and worshipful thanksgiving; a sense of wonder and elation. As I read this book proclaiming the rich history of ministry in Kansas City, I felt the glory of God (His presence), experienced the glory from God (His power) and I give glory to God (His praise). May all who read this book shout, “To God be the glory!!”
Rod Handley
Founder & President, Character that Counts
The Spiritual Roots of Kansas City is a fascinating exploration of our city’s history and heritage! The book unfolds how from the time of Lewis and Clark’s exploration to the arrival of French settlers and prayerful missionaries, our city was shaped and founded on diversity and faith. Through the depression era on into the civil rights Freedom marches of the 60s and then into the youth movement of the 70s and 80s, faith in action continued to be a hallmark of our city. Read Bill and Annika’s wonderful work – you will find God’s fingerprints in our past and inspiration for His work in the future!
Mike Bickley
Lead Pastor, Journey Bible Church
God is always at work. In the hectic pace of our lives, it is easy for us to fail to see his hand in all things, and important that we take times to stop and take note of all that he has done. Bill and Annika have provided the church of Kansas City a historical treasure by providing a record of the amazing work that God has accomplished in our midst. To God be the Glory! I believe he wants to do greater things in the days to come.
Matt Adams
Pastor of Community Impact, Westside Family Church
The story of the Church in Kansas City is a story that must be told. This book navigates us through the tumultuous journey that led to what we see today as the Body of Christ in our metro area. What you see is one God story after the next. A troublesome yet seamless orchestration of circumstance and the will of God causing all things to work together for the good of the Church. I praise God that this work has been finally documented for all to share in this testimony.
Greg Ealey
Campus Pastor, Colonial Presbyterian Church South KC; and Executive Director, Elevate KC
Bill High and Annika Bergen deftly navigate the Church’s history within Kansas City. This book is highly recommended for anyone wishing to delve into the rich history of Christianity in this region.
Zach Daughtrey
Historian, Kansas City Catholic Diocese
Have you ever driven Holmes Road?

In 1855, Robert and Mary Ann Holmes joined with eight other people to start First Baptist Church of Kansas City. At the time, Kansas City was a small trading post of just three hundred people. Then six years after their church began, the Civil War broke out and turned the city into a military outpost. But the small church persevered, continuing to preach revival sermons even as guns fired during the Battle of Westport. I’m sure the Holmes family had no idea their small church would last for so long, but two centuries later, the church continues! Are you facing a small beginning? Are you discouraged by setbacks or feel like you’re serving in a warzone? Be encouraged—every new movement starts small, but it can last for generations.

Have you ever wondered how Kansas City became the City of Fountains?

After the Civil War, we were a rough and tumble Cowtown with dirt roads and ramshackle buildings. Then Reverend Henry Hopkins from First Congregational Church preached that our faith in Jesus influences every part of life. He published a pamphlet, “The City Beautiful,” calling Christians to care for their city. A. R. Meyer, whose name you might recognize from Meyer Boulevard, went to Hopkins’s church and took the sermons to heart. He started Kansas City’s first park board and recruited three other church members to join. Together, they hired George Kessler, whose architecture made Kansas City famous nationwide for its parks, boulevards, and, of course, fountains. Never underestimate the influence your church has on the city. As Reverend Hopkins said, our faith in Jesus shapes every part of life, every day of the week.

Did you know that two hundred years ago, a flood rescued Kansas City?

Our town began as a trading post by the Missouri River. Then Christian businessman John Calvin McCoy along with twelve other men purchased a small plot of land and called it the Town of Kansas. For years, the town struggled to survive. Then the Missouri River flooded, nearly wiping out the town’s few businesses. But what threatened to ruin our city actually brought its redemption. McCoy realized the flood had uncovered a rock landing perfect for steamboats to bring pioneers and goods for trade. The town of Kansas quickly grew into the Midwest’s center for trade, until it became the Kansas City we love today. Isn’t that how God works? Sometimes what feels like our ruin is actually redemption. Jesus’s resurrection proves that no matter how dark our circumstances may be, God always has a plan.

Did you know two of Kansas City’s oldest churches began during the Civil War?

After the Emancipation Proclamation, former slaves traveled to the free state of Kansas. They stopped and camped along the riverbanks in Kansas City. Most churches were shutting down during the Civil War, but Reverend Clark Moore decided to start a mission known as Stragglers Camp. After one of Moore’s services, he baptized new converts in the river and asked them to choose whether they would be Baptist or Methodist. From this service were born Kansas City’s two oldest African American churches: Second Baptist Church and Allen Chapel AME. Amazingly, both churches remain in Kansas City today. Reverend Moore took a warzone and created an opportunity for God to move. Wherever you are, look for where God wants to move, and remember, Jesus’ death and resurrection are relevant in every circumstance.

Can one person can make a difference?

In the 1940s, a Jewish Johnson County housewife, Esther Brown, saw that the children of her African American maid attending school in conditions far worse than her own children. Bothered by the disparity, Esther began crusading for equal education for all races. When the school board didn’t respond, she took her complaint to court, until the Kansas Supreme Court finally ruled in her favor. This ruling paved the way for school desegregation nationwide just five years later. Esther Brown was only one person, but she served a limitless God. 1 Samuel 14:6 says, “Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving, whether by many or by few.” Never underestimate what God can do through your obedience.