The Info List - First Baptist Church In America

The First Baptist
Church in America is the First Baptist
Church of Providence, Rhode Island, also known as the First Baptist Meetinghouse. It is the oldest Baptist
church congregation in the United States, founded by Roger Williams in Providence, Rhode Island in 1638. The present church building was erected in 1774–75 and held its first meetings in May 1775. It is located at 75 North Main Street in Providence's College Hill neighborhood and is a National Historic Landmark.


1 History

1.1 Association with Brown University

2 Today 3 Affiliations 4 Gallery 5 Settled ministers (sometimes simultaneous pastorships) 6 See also 7 References 8 External links


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Roger Williams had been holding religious services in his home for nearly a year before he converted his congregation into a Baptist church in 1638. This followed his founding of Providence in 1636. For the next sixty years, the congregation met outside in nice weather or in congregants' homes. Baptists
in Rhode Island
Rhode Island
through most of the 17th century declined to erect meetinghouses because they felt that buildings reflected vanity. Eventually, however, they came to see the utility of some gathering place, and they erected severely plain-style meetinghouses like the Quakers. Roger Williams was a Calvinist, but within a few years of its founding, the congregation became more Arminian, and was clearly a General Six-Principle Baptist
church by 1652. It remained a General Baptist
church until it switched back to a Calvinist
variety under the leadership of James Manning in the 1770s. Following Williams as pastor of the church was Rev. Chad Brown, founder of the famous Brown family of Rhode Island. A number of the streets in Providence bear the names of pastors of First Baptist
Church, including Williams, Brown, Gregory Dexter, Thomas Olney, William Wickenden, Manning, and Stephen Gano. In 1700 Reverend Pardon Tillinghast
Pardon Tillinghast
built the first church building, a 400-square-foot (37 m2) structure, near the corner of Smith and North Main Streets. In 1711 he donated the building and land to the church in a deed describing the church as General Six-Principle Baptist
in theology. In 1736 the congregation built its second meetinghouse on an adjoining lot at the corner of Smith and North Main Streets. This building was about 40 × 40 feet square. When it was built in 1774–75, the current Meeting House represented a dramatic departure from the traditional Baptist
meetinghouse style. It was the first Baptist
meetinghouse to have a steeple and bell, making it more like Anglican and Congregational church
Congregational church
buildings. The builders were part of a movement among Baptists
in the urban centers of Boston, Newport, New York, and Philadelphia to bring respectability and recognition to Baptists. Association with Brown University[edit] Central to that movement was the creation of an educated ministry and the founding of a college. The Philadelphia Association of Baptist Churches sent Dr. James Manning to Rhode Island
Rhode Island
to found the College in the English Colony of Rhode Island
Rhode Island
and Providence Plantations (later renamed Brown University) in 1764. Beginning in Warren, the college then relocated to Providence in 1770. The college president, the Reverend Manning was called to be the pastor of the Providence church in 1771, and during his ministry the present Meeting House was erected "for the publick worship of Almighty God and also for holding commencement in."[3] Subsequent Brown presidents Maxcy and Wayland also served as ministers at the church. The Brown family that soon gave its name to the University were prominent members of the Church, and descendants of founders of the Church, as well as, the Rhode Island Colony (the second pastor of the congregation after Roger Williams was Rev. Chad Brown). Although the university is now secular, in honor of its history and tradition, the Meeting House continues, as it has since 1776, to be the site for Brown University's undergraduate commencement.[4] Construction began on the building in the summer of 1774, and it was the biggest building project in New England at the time. Due to the closure of the Massachusetts ports by the British as punishment for the Boston Tea Party, out-of-work ship builders and carpenters came to Providence to work on the Meeting House. The main portion of the Meeting House was dedicated in mid-May 1775, and the steeple erected in just three days in the first week of June. Notable additions to the Meeting House have included a Waterford crystal chandelier given by Hope Brown Ives (1792), a large pipe organ given by her brother Nicholas Brown, Jr., the younger (1834), the creation of rooms for Sunday school, fellowship hall, and offices on the lower level (1819–59), and an addition to the east end of the Meeting House to accommodate an indoor baptistery (1884). The building was designated a National Historic Landmark
National Historic Landmark
in 1960, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966.[2][1] Today[edit]

The First Baptist
Church in America signage.

In addition to weekly worship services, the Meeting House hosts concerts, talks, and lectures by world-renowned artists, performers, academics, and elected officials. Brown University
Brown University
holds commencement services at The Meeting House. In 2001, History professor J. Stanley Lemons wrote a history of the church, entitled First: The History of the First Baptist
Church in America[5][6] Affiliations[edit] The First Baptist
Church in America is affiliated with the American Baptist
Churches of Rhode Island
Rhode Island
(ABCORI) and the American Baptist Churches/USA (ABCUSA). The church actively supports the Rhode Island State Council of Churches, the National Council of Churches, the Baptist
World Alliance, and the Baptist
Joint Committee for Religious Liberty. Many members have served in various denominational, academic, and divinity school positions, including the presidency of Brown University. Gallery[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to First Baptist
Church of Providence.

First Baptist
Church in America in the 1800s

First Baptist
Church in undated postcard

Interior view

Steeple viewed from east.

Settled ministers (sometimes simultaneous pastorships)[edit]

Roger Williams, 1638–39 Chad Brown, 1639 – before 1650 Thomas Olney, 1639–1652 William Wickenden, 1642–1670 Gregory Dexter, 1654–1700 Pardon Tillinghast, 1681–1718 Ebenezer Jenckes 1719–1726 James Brown 1726–1732 Samuel Winsor, 1733–1758 Thomas Burlingame 1733–1764 Samuel Winsor, Jr, 1759–1771 James Manning, 1771–1791 John Stanford, 1788–1789 Jonathan Maxcy, 1791–1792 Stephen Gano
Stephen Gano
MD, 1792–1828 Robert Pattison, 1830–36 William Hague, 1837–40 Robert Pattison,1840–1842 James Granger, 1842–1857

Francis Wayland, 1857–1858 Samuel Caldwell, 1858–1873 Edward G. Taylor, 1875–1881 Thomas Edwin Brown, 1882–1890 Henry Melville King, 1891–1906 Elijah Abraham Hanley, 1907–1911 John F. Vichert, 1912–1916 Albert B. Cohoe, 1916–1920 Arthur W. Cleaves, 1922–1940 Albert C. Thomas, 1941–1954 Homer L. Trickett, 1955–1970 Robert G. Withers, 1971–1975 Richard D. Bausman, 1976–1982 Orland L. Tibbetts, 1983–1986 Dwight M. Lundgren, 1983–1996 Kate Harvey Penfield, 1987–1995 Clifford R. Hockensmith, 1997–1999 James C. Miller, 2000–2005 Dan Ivins, 2006–2014 Jamie Paige Washam, 2015-

See also[edit]

portal Rhode Island
Rhode Island
portal Architecture portal

List of tallest buildings in Providence, Rhode Island Oldest churches in the United States List of National Historic Landmarks in Rhode Island National Register of Historic Places
National Register of Historic Places
listings in Providence, Rhode Island


^ a b National Park Service
National Park Service
(2008-04-15). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.  ^ a b "First Baptist
Meetinghouse". National Historic Landmark
National Historic Landmark
summary listing. National Park Service. Archived from the original on 2012-10-07. Retrieved 2008-06-28.  ^ "History", Commencement, Brown University, 2010 . ^ "Commencement/Reunion Overview: Brown University
Brown University
to Hold 237th Commencement on Sunday, May 29". Providence, RI, USA: Brown University. 2005-05-05. Retrieved 2009-02-13.  ^ J. Stanley Lemons, "The Browns and the Baptists," Rhode Island History 67 (Summer/Fall, 2009), 74-82. ^ Lemons, J (2008-12-05). "Williams wasn't a 'free-thinker'". The Providence Journal. Retrieved 2009-01-13. 

External links[edit]

Official website Meeting House info Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) No. RI-38, "First Baptist
Meetinghouse, 75 North Main Street, Providence, Providence County, RI", 37 photos, 5 data pages, supplemental material SAH Archipedia entry

Wikimedia Commons has media related to First Baptist
Church of Providence.

Articles Related to Rhode Island
Rhode Island
and The Providence Plantations The Ocean State

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