The Saturday Bakery

We made something fine out of the love we shared

In 1972 my wife, Kathy, and I moved with our two children to Warrensburg, Missouri. I was fresh out of grad school and had accepted a teaching job at Central Missouri State University. As it happened, several other Mormon professors were hired the same year, and our families expanded the nucleus of the Latter-day Saints in the area.

Clearly, it was time to stop renting halls and to build a church of our own. All we lacked was money.

At that time, local units raised 20% of the cost of a building, which was a huge sum for about 40 families to come up with. We held ward dinners, brought casseroles, and paid to eat them. We put on bazaars, made crafts, then bought them. We even held movies and sold ourselves popcorn.

One project involved selling fence posts we cut from the limbs of sage orange trees. The problem was, we ruined so many chain saw blades that we were going in the hole.

The task seemed impossible. We could see years ahead of us before construction would start.

But one week, a local physician woke up in the night with the thought that he ought to give us a three-acre parcel of land; he could use the tax deduction.

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No one in our ward doubted for a second that a miracle had occurred. Not only did we have our land, but 80% of its value was credited to our share of the building costs. We were more than on our way; we could make it now.

It was time for a major push.

What we still needed was to bring in money that wasn't entirely from our own pockets. And that was when Bishop Jim Waite got the idea to open a bakery.

He had been a baker in the navy, and a local bakery was sitting idle. He negotiated a deal to use the place on Friday nights and to sell our goods on Sundays. We called it "The Saturday Bakery."

I was a baker, along with Bishop Waite, Jerry Adams, and George Hall. All of us were young, just out of college, and all but George were new to Warrensburg.

Our first night was a near disaster. Either the bishop was a little rusty on his skills or the yeast had lost its kick. The dough sat there and wouldn't "proof." (I learned the word that night.)

Time--and some added yeast--finally did get a rise out of the dough, but the sun was up in the morning before we finally took the bread from the ovens. We four bakers stumbled to bed, slept a little, then drove back to find that everything we had baked had sold. And not just to Mormons.

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