History of the Church from 1794-1855
written by the Rev. Asahel Bronson, Pastor, in 1855 at the request of the Berkshire Baptist Association
As early as 1786 a few Baptist people were found in this town, chiefly located in the West part of it. A number of them came from Connecticut, but the majority originated from Philadelphia. Whether they had never professed to be under the Abrahamic covenant of circumcision, or had broken off from such profession, cannot be ascertained. [The “covenant of circumcision” is a reference to the practice of infant baptism, one of whose justifications in the early years of our country was an analogy to the circumcision of infants in the Old Testament. The majority of Baptist churches in Connecticut were breakaways from American Congregational churches (in which infant baptism was practiced), while many of those in Philadelphia were founded directly by Baptists from England].
Of one thing they seemed to be convinced, that they had been “circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ” [Colossians 2:11]. They were dissatisfied with the preaching of the Standing Order or Congregational Church [supported by everyone’s taxes at the time], which proclaimed, without the least Scriptural warrant, that little infants are proper subjects of Christian Baptism, and that to be sprinkled with water in the name of the Trinity, is New Testament Baptism. This led them to establish a meeting for prayer and conference in a school-house.
They were occasionally visited by neighboring Baptist ministers, and particularly by Elder Justus Hull of Berlin, N.Y, till 1794, when a Baptist church was organized consisting of fourteen members. The next year the church was received into the Shaftesbury Association, numbering 16 members. This connection was continued until 1800, when it was dissolved by a vote of that body in consequence of a neglect of the church to send either delegates or reports to the Association for 3 successive years. During this length of time the church had no Pastor, but was partially supplied by neighboring ministers. The number of members remained stationary at 18, until 1801 when the Rev. Dyer Stark commenced his labors among them and there was an addition of 9 persons, making the total sum 27. This increase was the fruit of a precious revival, which continued three or four months. The next year Mr. Stark was chosen to the pastorate and continued their much beloved pastor three years. When he resigned his charge, the church, in consequence of one death and two dismissals, was reduced to 24 members.
History of the Church from 1855-1907
written by the Rev. Charles F. Eldredge, Pastor, in 1907 for the dedication of the “Central Mission”
The last history of this church was prepared by the Rev. Asahel Bronson, who was then pastor of the church, and is dated “October 1855,” and can be found printed in the Minutes of the Berkshire Baptist Association of that date. After carefully reviewing this history and comparing it with the records in the possession of the church, I find it quite comprehensive, and in the main correct. It seems, therefore, unnecessary that this paper should, excepting in a general way, go back of the date furnished by Elder Bronson, — namely, 1855.
There seems little doubt that the church was organized in the year 1794 as the Association Minutes record. The church possesses several letters written in the year 1796, which prove beyond a doubt that the church existed for a considerable length of time previous to this date. It is, therefore, the seventh oldest church in the Berkshire Baptist Association, the oldest being that at Becket which was organized in 1769.
In the year 1810 the church united with the Congregationalists in building a meeting house at South Williamstown, the agreement being that each society should occupy it on alternate Sabbaths. The plan worked well for a time but disagreements arose and in 1834-5 the Baptists erected a stone building about halfway between Williamstown and South Williamstown, at a point then known as “Smith’s Corner” (now called Sweet’s Corners), at a cost of $1500, where they have since worshiped.
Commencing with 1855, for fifteen years the church was without a pastor, and during all of that time letters were sent to the Associational gatherings but twice. In 1871 Rev. Einathan Sweet, a former pastor, was called to the pastorate, and for seven years his ministry proved a blessing to the church. In 1881 Rev. Arthur Day became pastor and served the church one year. In 1883 Rev. A.B. Whipple, our venerable brother (now of Pittsfield, Mass., who has passed his fourscore years) became pastor and for nearly ten years this happy relation continued. Brother Whipple’s pastorate is the longest in the history of the church. [This is still the case in 1994.]
In 1895 Rev. Olney J. Rose became pastor and served the church for four years. What was first known as the “The Baptist Mission” was organized at Williamstown, April 3rd, 1898, by Rev. Oiney J. Rose, who was then pastor of the Mother Church at Sweet’s Corners. Brother Rose has often spoken [he seems to have settled in the community after his pastorate; he is listed in a local membership directory in 1915] of how the Lord led him to come up to the village and hold the first prayer meeting at the home of Brother Amos S. Turner. The first public services were held at 2 p.m. in Grand Army Hall. The records show that two baptisms resulted during the first year, and that Brother Rose received for his services $44.45, while the janitor received $12.74. A Sunday School was organized, and Mr. William H. Davis elected Superintendent, which office he holds to-day. During these nine years [since its founding] the Lord has indeed led the new branch in a wonderful way. Fifty-six have united by baptism and of this number forty two have been added during the past three years.
In June 1898 the church was incorporated according to the laws of the state. In December 1901, Rev. H.B. Foskett entered upon his pastorate which lasted one year. At the beginning of his pastorate, the Mother Church at Sweet’s Comers received into its fellowship the members of the growing interest at Williamstown. The records show that this was a day of great rejoicing, when the “marriage” as it was called, was effected [whereby] the new interest at the village, known afterwards as the “Central Mission,” and the church at Sweet’s Comers were united to form one body. Mr. Foskett served on both fields.
The present pastor. Rev. Charles F. Eldredge, was called to take charge of the united interests October, 1905, and assumed the pastorate November 10th of that year. The present pastor of the united interests upon arriving on the field saw that if the work at the village was to grow, steps must soon be taken to erect a suitable house of worship on the comer lot purchased during the pastorate of Rev. H.B. Foskett. By advice of members of the Executive Committee of the Massachusetts Baptist Missionary Society [now the American Baptist Churches of Massachusetts], ground was broken for the present beautiful edifice on the morning of August 7th, 1906. [The congregation had voted on July 30 to borrow $2500 from the Williamstown Savings Bank, as $4000 had already been pledged.] The building was completed March 1st, 1907, and the dedication took place on June 18th. The total cost of the building was $8254.36 upon which there is at present an indebtedness of $5,000. The Baptists of Williamstown now own property valued at $16,354.36.
During the past 52 years there have been 17 years in all that the church has been without pastoral care. The actual pastorates have extended over a period of 25 years. This leaves about ten years that the church has received aid from supplies, who have only remained a brief time, and from Williams College students. Among the latter none stands higher in the love and esteem of the “South Mission” at Sweet’s Comers than Rev. George R Merritt (now deceased), graduate of Williams College in the class of 1900, who for nearly two years faithfully served the people at the “Stone Church.” Through his faithfulness and untiring zeal the church edifice was entirely re-modeled at a cost of nearly $2500, and to-day presents one of the most beautiful interiors to be found in any of our country churches.
Other students have rendered excellent service from time to time during their college terms, but none has been so successful in clearing the way of financial obstacles from the “Central Mission” as Mr. Harry L. Everett, who for three years devoted his time and strength towards removing the indebtedness on the new church lot and at the end saw it accomplished.
History of the Church from 1907-1956
written in 1956 by Mrs. John Lee and Mr. and Mrs. Charles Young, members of a committee to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the laying of the Central Mission Cornerstone
Upon the resignation of Rev. Eldredge [in 1908, unfortunately due to a dispute between the South and Central missions as to which site would have the pastor for morning worship, the other site necessarily having to meet in the afternoon or evening], Rev. Sumner W. Stevens served in the pastorate from January 1, 1909 until his death July 5, 1913, at a salary of $5 per week from the South Mission and $7 per week from the Central Church, a total of $624. It was during this service, in 1913, that the use of duplex envelopes was introduced which resulted in receipts, during that year, of $605.53 from the Central Church and $416.46 from the Stone Church.
Rev. Mr. Tibbals was the next to receive a call to the pastorate which extended from November 1, 1914 until his resignation on March 1, 1918. Increased activities and growth along evangelical and missionary lines marked this period. Weekly prayer meetings were held, some in the Alsop Block and some in the Church. A committee to consider the purchase of a new Communion service with individual cups was appointed on January 10, 1915; a license to preach was granted Mr. George E. Haynes; and one of the greatest highlights of this period was the burning of the church mortgage on Sunday evening, January 23, 1916, with the program in charge of Mr. Joseph Tavelli.
Another important landmark during Rev Tibbals’ pastorate was on January 3, 1917 when the church formally assumed the title of First Baptist Church with two branches, namely. South Mission and Central Mission. In October Rev. Tibbals received an appointment as an army chaplain. On February 10th of 1918 he was granted an indefinite leave of absence followed by his resignation on March 1st.
During the interim between pastors. Rev. McMaster of the Congregational Church assisted. On January 9, 1918, Mrs. Kate Galusha was appointed organist, a position which she held for many years thereafter with great efficiency and devotion. A proud day arrived when on October 6th 1918 the parsonage was purchased for a price of $4,500 with a down payment of $1500.
In the summer or fall of 1919 Rev. W.S. Boardman was appointed pastor and the records show that he paid rent for the parsonage and received a salary on January 1, 1920 of $1500. Association dues for 1920 were noted at 4 cents a member. Rev. Boardman resigned at the Annual Meeting on January 5, 1921.
On February 19, 1922 Rev. Newal A. Wood was called as pastor. On January 3, 1923 a car was purchased for the Pastor’s use and was duly received on June 1st. It was voted during this year to construct a cement sidewalk for the church. Christian Endeavor was instituted on October 14, 1925 with 21 members. Rev. Mr. Wood tendered his resignation on June 6, 1926 to become effective the last Sunday in July Rev William Clements was called October 21, 1926 at a salary of $1350 plus parsonage. September 1, 1928 showed 84 members in the Central Church.
The Rev. Glenn Marquay was called to the church in 1930. The 25th anniversary of the building was celebrated on December 8, 1931 with the assistance of former pastor Rev. Ralph Tibbals. 1932 found the average Sunday School attendance at 63 with Mrs. Laura Baike serving as secretary. Also on October 16 of the same year it was voted to put a new roof on the parsonage. In 1933, through the efforts of the Ladies Aid, the Central Church was redecorated and rewiring done where needed. Also that year it was reported that all obligations were met and some departments showed a gratifying balance. The Central Church was painted in 1934. The same year Dr. William Dennett, of Williams College, spoke on the idea of a Federation of the three Protestant Churches in town, but no action was taken.
Rev. Marquay tendered his resignation on January 1, 1936 which was followed by the calling of Rev. Helen June Heath on April 9, of that year. Mr. Marquay remained in town, working for the post office, and continued as a member of the church for the rest of his life. During Miss Heath’s pastorate separate business meetings were held monthly and prayer meetings every Thursday alternating with Sweet’s Corners Stone Church. A formal vote was taken on May 1, 1937 not to re-open the First Baptist Stone Church. On May 30, 1937 evening services were discontinued for the summer months and never started again.
Rev. Stanley Bennett became Pastor on October 23, 1938. It was during Rev Bennett’s pastorate that the Junior Choir was started. Quarterly business meetings were held from 1938 on. A report on the World Wide Guild appeared for the first time in 1940 so the assumption is that this date marks its formation. In 1940 the Lamplighters were also organized, at the home of and Mrs. Gerald Middlebrook. This adult fellowship group drew many of its members from the Christian Endeavor organization and is still meeting today, four years after its “golden anniversary”!] On January I, 1941 it was voted to hold our annual business meetings in May, on the first Wednesday after the first Sunday. No business meeting was reported from the Stone Church in 1944. In 1943 and 1944 the Church was closed during the Pastor’s vacation.
The Pastor’s salary was set at $1500 in May 1944. Due to the fact that Rev. Bennett had resigned it was voted to keep the Church open for candidates in August. Rev. Mr. Brenton K. Arthur was called in 1944. The Junior Christian Endeavor was formed early in 1945. Rev. Mr. Arthur tendered his resignation on February 4, 1945 to become effective May 1. On April 23, 1946 it was voted to join the M. & M. retirement plan for Ministers and Missionaries.
Rev. Samuel Walker was called to the church in April 1946. On October 6, 1946 the Church Committee, a replacement of the Advisory Board, was formed. Also during the same year the Board of Deaconesses was started. The use of special Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas offering envelopes and letters was voted for the first time on March 13, 1947. At a roll call supper and Annual Business Meeting on May 7, 1947 sixty-five members were present. The church was redecorated in 1948 at a cost of $843. It was voted on May 6, 1953 to install a new heating system in the church. Most of this work was done by voluntary labor.
Rev. Walker resigned on December 6, 1953 [to assume the pastorate of the Baptist Church in Blue Hill, Maine]. December 20, 1953 found the Church with all bills for the year paid. The cleaning of the Church was being done by members. An oil burner was installed in the parsonage in January, 1954 and the entire house redecorated on the inside by Church members and friends that winter.
On July 1, 1954 Rev. Raymond J. Bates began his ministry as our pastor [Mr. Bates was called from the Second Baptist Church of Calais, Maine. He was a graduate of Colby College and Andover Newton Theological School. He had served five previous churches, and was now called to a “double charge,” as he also pastored the Baptist Church in nearby Hancock, Mass. (His predecessor had also provided some pastoral care for this congregation.) A contract to shingle the Church roof was signed on October 8, 1954, at a cost of $816.00. In the winter of 1955 the Sunday School rooms were painted. The Women’s Society was also founded in 1955, through the reorganization of the Philalthea Class. A Men’s Club was founded with Tom Steward as president. In the Spring of 1955 the Church Enlargement program was conducted and the largest budget in the history of the church was subscribed, the total being $7,600- As a result of this revitalized financial program the church gave the sum of $1,035.00 for missionary causes during the church year 1955-56.
In the past year we have installed new front steps, new cupboards and sink in the kitchen and the old baptistry has been replaced with a steel one- Dividers have been made for the Sunday
Schoolrooms. The outside of the parsonage was repaired and painted. During the year 1955-56 the Church engaged in the denominational program called the “Year of Baptist Achievement.” One of the outstanding features was a school of missions. The Sunday Church School showed great progress under this program.
Under the leadership of the Board of Deacons, we have acquired a complete Altar set to perpetuate the memory of loved ones who for years were devoted and faithful members of the Church. Under Pastor Bates’ leadership 89 have joined the church, 44 by baptism and 45 by letter and confession of faith. Our present membership is 247. No history of the Baptist Church in Williamstown would be complete without a special mention of Mrs. E.P. Prentice whose name appears frequently throughout the records as a consistent donor thus assisting us to carry on.
History of the Church from 1956-1994
written by the Rev. Dr. Christopher Smith, Pastor, in 1994 for the congregation’s 200th anniversary
The celebration on July 22, 1956 of the 50th anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone of the Central Mission was a joyous occasion in the life of the church. The Rev. June Heath Knapp, minister of the church from 1936-38, returned to preach at morning worship that day. At special ceremonies that afternoon, the speaker was 90-year-old Rev. Charles Eldredge, during whose pastorate from 1905-08 the cornerstone had originally been laid. Several church members were in attendance who had also been present for the occasion in 1906.
This memorable celebration of God’s faithfulness was followed swiftly, however, by a time of great testing. Rev. Raymond Bates offered his resignation on Dec. 8, 1956, effective March 1, 1957, to become the minister of the Bethany Baptist Church in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Less than a week later, an electrical fire burned the chancel, baptistry, and organ in our sanctuary, and resulted in smoke and water damage in much of the rest of the building. At the kind offer of the Williamstown Superintendant of Schools, our congregation met for worship in the music room of Grant School until the necessary repairs could be made. During this trying time a weekly prayer meeting was re-established. The church was without a regular minister after March 1957 but was ably served by three interim ministers, the Revs. John Chandler, George Camp, and Harold Fletcher. Finally, on December 22, 1957, over a year after the fire, the congregation was able to return to its refurbished sanctuary. Damages had amounted to almost $18,000, of which fire insurance paid about half. The new furnishings included a new baptistry and a Baldwin 5A electronic organ, which was inaugurated with a special concert by Dr. Elmer A. Tidmarsh of Schenectady on March 14, 1958.
Now began a long period of stability, during which the present character of the church was shaped. The congregation had been organized over 150 years earlier, but only four pastors had served it for more than four years throughout that time, and only one had remained for more than six years. But now began a series of four consecutive ministers who each remained for seven or more years, lending stability and continuity to the church and its programs.
On January 15, 1958, the church extended a call to the Rev. Samuel G. Graham, who was then serving the First Baptist Church of Webster, Massachusetts. A graduate of Bloomfield College and Moody Bible Institute who had also studied at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Graham had been ordained in 1939 and had served pastorates in Ardene and Metuchen, New Jersey, and Quaker Hill, Connecticut. Early in his pastorate the outside of the sanctuary was given a “new look.” The original architect had conceived it as “Gothic in design and fashioned after the old English country church style,” according to a letter written by Charles Eldredge in 1907. But now the brown-stained shingles were taken down and replaced by clapboards which were painted white, in the “New England style,” giving the church its present appearance.
More changes were soon made to the physical property, as an expression of the priority Mr. Graham placed on Christian Education, in keeping with the congregation’s initiative, taken just before his arrival, to create a Board of Christian Education. (This does not seem like a novel idea today, but represented a progressive and even controversial step at the time.) Sunday school classes were overflowing the building to the extent that two were meeting in the parsonage, and so a building fund for an educational wing was started. By May, 1961, enough pledges had been made for the church to take out a $35,000 mortgage on its sanctuary to build an addition. Designed by architect William M. Kirby, Jr., and built with considerable help from volunteers within the congregation, the addition was completed in 1962. The new Fellowship Hall was graced by a Novachord organ formerly used by the Prentice family at Mount Hope Farm, the gift of the Prentice children. The building was dedicated at a special service on Sept. 23, 1962. The Rev. Thomas W. Tamblyn, Director of Christian Education of the Massachusetts Baptist Convention (now known as the American Baptist Churches of Massachusetts) gave the address. Along with education, Mr. Graham emphasized outreach, holding an annual School of Missions and School of Evangelism. New programs including choirs and youth fellowships were inaugurated, and annual events including the Strawberry Festival in June and Harvest Bazaar in October were enjoyed.
Mr. Graham resigned in October, 1967, effective January 10, 1968, to assume the pastorate of the First Baptist Church of Hanson, Massachusetts. The Rev. Charles Fox of Williams College served as interim minister for the next nine months. Now the church began its happy association with Gordon Divinity School (now Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary), which would provide four of its. next five pastors. Mr. William Carlsen, who had been serving as assistant pastor of the First Baptist Church of Gardiner, Massachusetts, while in seminary, was called on May 19, 1968, to begin in September. Mr. Carlsen was a graduate of Houghton College and Gordon Divinity School. He was ordained in our sanctuary on December 14, 1968, an event which James Meacham, clerk of the church at the time, described as “one of the most important events in our church records.” (Indeed, while the church over the years seems to have “raised up” three of its number to enter the ministry, we have no record of any other ordination services besides Mr. Carlsen’s.)
This joyous occasion was quickly followed by another, the burning of the mortgage for the educational wing at the church’s annual meeting of January 8, 1969. That year an illuminated sign board was installed on the front lawn by the Men’s Club. Jan Van Luling later built a stone foundation for the board, to hold flowers in the summer and evergreens in the winter.
These were years of great excitement and activity. The Rev. Mr. Carlsen maintained the emphasis on missions begun by Mr. Graham, with the result that in 1974, despite its small size, the church’s contribution to the World Mission Offering was one of the top 150 nationwide. The emphasis on evangelism was also maintained, as the church co-sponsored the Billy Graham films “For Pete’s Sake” and “A Time to Run” with other area churches. And the commitment to education was expanded by the inauguration of a Vacation Bible School, administered by Gail Carlsen, in June. This grew to the point where it involved many area churches, enrolled 250 students, and had to be moved to the Mitchell School. A nursery was decorated in memory of Doris Brown and Lorraine Bennett.
Mr. Carlsen added an emphasis on discipleship, holding biweekly Dynamics of Christian Living classes at the parsonage and inaugurating special Kickoff Weekends each fall. He also helped start what became the Williams Christian Fellowship, establishing a connection between that group and our church that is still treasured today. With youth group leader Gordon Walters, he led a delegation to Expio 72, a huge gathering of Christian young people in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.
On April 29, 1975, Mr. Carlsen resigned, effective June 22, to become the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Rome, New York. (He has since become Executive Minister of the American Baptist Churches of New York State.) The church was able to secure the services of a remarkable young man, Williams College junior Scott “Buzz” Inboden, as interim minister. Mr. Inboden had been preaching frequently since his freshman year at the Congregational Church in North Pownal, Vermont. Published reports indicate that he drew an unparalleled summer congregation of 138 one week. While he only served our church for four months, he returned in 1988 and 1989 to lead “Walk Through the Bible” conferences. He illustrates that our church’s relationship with the students at Williams College is one that has frequently been of great benefit to us as well as to the students to whom we wish to minister.
On Sept. 7, 1975, the church called the Rev. Jerry Heslinga as minister, to start in mid-October. Mr. Heslinga was a graduate of Wheaton College and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. The years of his pastorate continued to be bustling, active ones in the life of the church. Existing programs such as Vacation Bible School and Fall Kickoff Weekends continued at full strength, although some activities such as the Men’s Club and junior and youth choirs were discontinued. Our church’s 1981 World Missions Offering was the 93rd largest in the country. A new organ was purchased for the sanctuary and new lighting was installed. Revised Standard Version Bibles were placed in the pews in memory of Robert Senecal, a long-time member. And the emphases on outreach and discipleship now began to include programs of practical service. A proposal for a nursery school in our building was turned down by town officials because of our limited parking space, but in 1980, the church helped resettle a refugee family from Laos, the Tabongphets.
Mr. Heslinga resigned in November, 1982, to accept a call to the pastorate of the First Baptist Church of Cape May Court House, New Jersey, a position he still holds as of the time of this writing. The Rev. Thomas S. “Sam” Warren III served the church as interim minister until May 15, 1983, when the Rev. James Widmer was called to our pastorate. He was a graduate of Amherst College and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and had been serving the Thomaston (Maine) Baptist Church for the previous six years. He pursued the connection with the Williams Christian Fellowship very actively, and continued the church’s missions emphasis, inaugurating “Minutes for Mission” during worship. With his encouragement Williams College students Bob Ause, Amy Barstad, and Bill White entered the mission field after graduation. The 1983 World Missions Offering was the second-largest total in the state, and represented the highest per capita giving.
Mr. Widmer presided over the streamlining of our bylaws, completed in 1989, and also helped bring our church into the “space age” by upgrading our technology: a computer was purchased for the office in 1984 and a photocopier and new sound system in 1986- A television and VCR were donated to the Sunday School in 1989. But technological change also forbode social change taking place in American society that was affecting every church’s programs. The two-paycheck family was becoming more the rule than the exception, and this cut down on the number of available volunteers. Businesses began to open on Sundays, leisure-time activities for children proliferated, and these and other factors translated into smaller numbers on Sunday mornings and more limited church programming. Programs such as choir and Vacation Bible School began to feel the impact; in these years they faltered and were finally discontinued.
Mr. Widmer resigned in 1989 to become, in keeping with his strong personal interest in missions promotion. Director of Stewardship Services in the Office of the General Secretary of the American Baptist Churches, U.S.A., in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. He continues to serve in this position at the present time. The Rev. Peter Hill served the church as Minister-at-Large until the Rev. Steven Baetz assumed the pastorate on October 14, 1990. After a difficult period in the if of the church, Mr. Baetz resigned on December 15, 1991.
The weekly prayer meeting was re-established in January 1992. The church was served by the Revs. Carl and Carol Towley as supply preachers and the Rev- Walter Wakeman as Minister-at-Large. The exterior of the church was repainted and the front steps were replaced. On July 19, 1993, the Rev. Dr. Christopher Smith was called the pastorate, which he assumed on September 15, 1992. Dr. Smith came to Williamstown from the First Baptist Church of Newton, Massachusetts, where he was associate minister. He was a graduate of Harvard College and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and had just completed a doctorate at Boston College.
Since his arrival Dr. Smith has worked to re-establish the church’s valued relationship with the Williams Christian Fellowship and the Williams College community in general. He has been working to complete implementation of the revised bylaws, a process interrupted by pastoral turnover, in order to make more effective and efficient use of our ministry resources and to lay a foundation for what, it is hoped, will be, by God’s grace, renewed growth in numbers and programs in the future.
On Oct. 31, 1993, the church voted to make important improvements in its physical property, including siding and re-roofing the educational addition and providing handicapped access to both levels of the building- In this way the congregation signified its desire to reach out and bring into fellowship those who, for one reason or another, were outside its walls. To help pay for these improvements, the church established a 200th anniversary fund with a goal of raising $20,000. The church has invited former ministers Bill Carlsen, Jerry Helsingr, and Jim Widmer and former interim minister Peter Hill to return and preach during 1994 to help observe its bicentennial, and as of this writing is anticipating a joyous year of celebration.
In its first two centuries, our church has experienced God’s faithfulness as it has survived many difficult trials, and also enjoyed years of great blessing and activity. Our challenge and opportunity as we enter our third century of service are to maintain continuity with the emphases that have shaped our character in the last half-century (missions, evangelism, education, discipleship, service) and to honor the relationships we have developed, such as with Williams College. But we must do this in new ways, appropriate to our changed society, and this we will do, as God continues to lead and guide.
History: Our Ministers
- Dyer Stark, 1802-04
- Erastus Doby, 1819-1821
- Wakeman Johnson, 1831-33
- David Pease, 1834-35
- Einathan Sweet, 1836-37
- Stephen Wright, 1837-38
- Platt Betts, 1839-41
- Edwin Sandys, 1842-43
- Elihu Dutcher, 1844-45
- George Lyie, 1845-49
- Horace Doolittle, 1850-52
- Asahel Bronson, 1853-55
- Einathan Sweet, 1871-77
- Arthur Day, 1881-82
- A.B. Whipple, 1883-93
- Oiney J. Rose, 1895-99
- H.B. Foskett, 1900-01
- Charles F. Eldredge, 1905-08
- S.W. Stevens, 1909-13
- Ralph H. Tibbals, 1914-18
- W.S. Boardman, 1919-21
- Newal A. Wood, 1922-26
- William Clements, 1926-29
- Glenn Marquay, 1930-36
- Helen June Heath, 1936-38
- Stanley Bennett, 1938-44
- Brenton K. Arthur, 1944-46
- Samuel A. Walker, 1946-53
- Raymond J. Bates, 1954-57
- Samuel Graham, 1958-67
- William A. Carlsen, 1968-75
- Jerry Heslinga, 1975-83
- James Widmer, 1983-89
- Stephen Baetz, 1990-91
- Christopher Smith, 1992-2001
- Peter Daniels, 2003-2013