What's all that construction at First Baptist Church all about?
You know, the tall red brick one on Main Street? You may have noticed the new parking lot across from the CVS on Arlington Street. You may also have noticed the drywall trucks, the heating system vehicles and the A/V equipment vans parked out front. It’s the place that offers free clothes and bathroom supplies during the week, and free meals on Sunday afternoon. You may have thought, “What is going on at that church?”
First Baptist Church is an old church
This year we celebrate our 250 year anniversary. Yes, you read that right. Back in 1765 a fiery Baptist pastor by the name of Hezekiah Smith founded the first Baptist church in Haverhill, aptly named First Baptist Church. Our church charter is signed by John Hancock, at the time, governor of Massachusetts. The church has an unbroken line of members dating back to before the Declaration of Independence, through the Civil War, onto both World Wars, enduring the Great Depression and witnessing the events of September 11, 2001.
Architectural buffs will easily note that the current building at 217 Main Street is not the original facility. Actually, it is the church’s fourth building. However, the current building does possess some historic significance. Built in 1882, it was built to seat over a thousand attendees, complete with balconies and a choir loft. The stained glass windows can sometimes be seen lit up at night during an evening concert or Christmas Eve service.
First Baptist Church is a new church
Yet, even as we celebrate our history, we have chosen not to live in the past. We want to be a church that is ministering to Haverhill here and now, seeking to reconnect people with God today. I’ve been the Lead Pastor for four years now, still enjoying my mid-30s. My call here, I believe, was a crucial turning point for the church—a clear decision by the members to think of the next generation. Since then, we have added new staff, created new ministries like Kid Town to minister to children during the Worship Service and we are pushing forward to be missional, outreach-focused.
There was a time when we considered a move to the suburbs, building a facility from the ground and then coming into downtown only every so often for a night out at the Tap or Krueger’s, or to pay our excise taxes. But downtown is where we need to be, sitting tall on Main Street next to City Hall and a block away from the Public Library. This is where the action is, where the people are, and where needs are greatest. We want to be a light to Haverhill, our city, our community.
So don’t be a stranger; stop in for a visit. Better yet, join us on a Sunday. Stop in our church café for a cup of coffee and check out John Hancock’s signature on the wall (a copy of course), and then come right into our 19th century sanctuary, equipped with state-of-the-art audio and video. We want to reconnect you to Jesus, who doesn’t change though times and seasons turn.