First Baptist Church of Greater Toledo – A History of Kingdom Service
A History of the First Baptist Church of Greater Toledo
In the spring of 1853 a young man, Henry J. Hayes arrived in Toledo, Ohio and soon became a successful businessman. Mr. Hayes could find no Baptist church and asked a Baptist minister friend in Norwalk to help him obtain the names of other adherents to the Baptist faith in Toledo. Soon he was able to invite a few men and women of like faith to a meeting in his home. At the same time the Rev. Edward F. Platt was en route from New York to Minnesota to begin a new mission when he stopped in Cleveland, Ohio. While there he learned of the need of a minister in Toledo and decided to visit this town of only 8,000 people. It soon became apparent to all that Rev. Platt would be the man to begin this work in Toledo.
On Wednesday, July 6, 1853 a group of eight consecrated men met in prayer and reached the conclusion that the time was ready to establish a Baptist church here. Mr. Platt was appointed chairman of the meeting and was then invited to become the pastor of the proposed church. On July 13, 1853 the pastorate began and immediately a committee was appointed to secure a suitable place of meeting. A Union Hall was rented and on Sunday, August 7, 1853 the first sermon was preached in this building and a week later the Sunday School was organized with eleven members. This Church was duly established on July 6, 1853 but the formal organization was held on Monday, October 31, 1853 when eighteen people presented letters of dismissal from other Baptist churches.
The congregation met in the Union Hall for only two years before it was able to build the first church structure. A brick building on Huron Street was dedicated on December 9, 1855 and by 1858 the Church was self-supporting. This church building was remodeled and renovated many times until members decided it was time for a second building. On April 9, 1924, the church was incorporated under the laws of the State of Ohio. On June 5, 1924, ground was broken for the new church building and on Easter Sunday, 1925 the first service was held on Collingwood Boulevard. Five years later the second phase of the building was completed and the second house of worship of the First Baptist Church was dedicated during the week of October 26, 1930. This building, too, saw many renovation phases.
At the annual meeting in January of 1975 the congregation appointed a committee to study the feasibility of moving the church to another section of Toledo. In January of 1976 the congregation voted to establish a new ministry in the southwest section of Toledo. Arrangements were made with Springfield High School to use the library for services. Church services were held at both locations until the Collingwood building was sold in 1978 to the First Church of God. Land had been purchased at Holland-Perrysburg and Pilliod Roads in 1977 and following a successful building campaign, construction of the third church building was begun. Dedication services of our present structure were held on October 12, 1980 and since the church is now located in the suburb of Holland, it has been incorporated as The First Baptist Church of Greater Toledo.
Since then, a second building drive was held and on November 20, 1988 the dedication of the Education and Fellowship Wing was held. In 1997 another successful capital fund drive was held to build Phase III which included the addition of six classrooms for babies through high school age, an office for a Christian Education director, new entrances with vestibules, a small kitchen, additional restrooms and storage spaces. Murals, depicting different times in the teachings of Jesus are in the three rooms for the younger children.
Phase III also included the enlargement of the narthex and the installation and lighting of two stained glass windows which had been removed from the narthex in the Collingwood Church and stored for twenty years. The folding doors and the false ceiling in the back portion of the sanctuary were removed to enlarge it. The Rose window of a dove, the symbol of the Holy Spirit, could be seen from the inside for the first time since the building had been built because the ceiling had concealed it. In 2002 a three-pillar granite fountain was installed in the garden area in front of the building. Benches are there for meditation. A Living Tree has been established and is mounted in the side vestibule. Monies generated from tributes to this tree are given to the Endowment Fund.
A special year of dedication and celebration was held in 2003 for our 150th anniversary. Many events were held throughout the year but of prime importance was the first time ever visit of a General Secretary of the ABC/USA and a concert given by the Toledo Symphony Orchestra in our sanctuary.
Since 1853 eighteen ministers have served the First Baptist Church with terms from two to twenty-five years and each of these pastors has been a vital part of the development and growth of this Church. At several times in the past this Church has had the services of an Assistant Pastor or a Director of Christian Education and Family Life. This Church has aided in the development of several other Baptist Churches in the area throughout our history and we have been proud to hold ordination services for a number of our members, six of which have occurred recently. Many members of this church have entered full-time Christian ministry service.
Many of our members have held leadership positions in Association, State or National work and continue to do so at the present time. Several members have been involved in ABC/Ohio in many leadership capacities and two have served as president: Milton Bennett in 1974 and Georganna Mawer in 1997. Other members have served on the General Board of the ABC/USA and Milton Bennett was the National Treasurer from 1969 to 1974 when it became a paid position.
As an American Baptist Church, we continue to stress our heritage to all church members by involvement with an American Baptist related seminary, Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Illinois and with an American Baptist school, Judson University in Elgin, Illinois. A website was established in 2000 and has been a great asset. It is www.FBCOGT.com.
The First Baptist Church of Greater Toledo has had many turning points in its long history. Our present building is very much a product of the wishes of the church congregation. No decisions were made without a vote of the congregation and this continues to be a part of all current projects. Changes in the community population and the number of available churches in the area precipitated the last two moves. The present location and acreage will allow us to make several changes and additions and serve a continuously growing community. The objective of the members of The First Baptist Church of Greater Toledo is to strive to fulfill God’s will for us in this place through our work and our lives.