First Baptist Church (Wooster, Ohio)

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General information
Location 246 North Market St.
Town or city Wooster, Ohio
Country United States
Construction started erected circa 1835-1840

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  • First Baptist Church (Wooster, Ohio)
Other Services
  • Religious / Grantmaking / Civil / Profession and Similar Organizations
  • Date unknown
Key Persons
    • 246 N. Market St., Wooster, 44691, Ohio, United States

Wayne County, Ohio's oldest church.

Church name



  • circa 1804-1806
  • Officially organized, August. 12, 1812 as Bethel Baptist Church, 1812 - approx. July 16, 1966
  • Approx. July 16, 1966- as First Baptist Church


  • Ohio Baptist Convention
  • American Baptist Convention (Granville, ohio)

Charter members

  • John Bever, William Henry and Joseph Larwill

Historical documents

  • History of the First Baptist Church in Wooster, 1993


  • 1977 - Erman French

Quick Facts

  • 1812 - Organized
  • 1812-1814 - Bethany Baptist Church as a log block-house, meeting house
  • 1814 - First meeting house, frame structure church built at rear of lot where Reformed Church now stands. County paid $50.00 a year to rent to hold Wayne County Court sessions there-- theology and courts in harmony!
  • 1818 - Membership was 115 members
  • 1831 - On this date the church and land was purchased from Martha McMillan estate for $75.00 (which estate donated). The kilns were brought in to fire bricks for the new church in 1831.
  • 1834 - Present church site was purchased from Mrs. Martha McMillan for $75.00
  • 1835 - Regular Baptist Church name Bethany Baptist Church (Wooster, Ohio).
  • 1835 - Cornerstone was laid
  • 1839 - Church was not completed until 1839, as money was scarce.
  • 1840 - Church was built.
  • 1851 - Membership was 248 members
  • 1853 - Baptistery and vestry were built into church.
  • 1855 - Helped formed Millbrook church
  • 1886 - Church organ bought, it is a "Tractor Action baroque style" make style EORG. The first organist was Ellen Nachtail. Had to have sentry outside church in case of Indians. The organ had to be pumped by young men of the church. John Long was one who helped. Do not know the cost of the organ.
  • 1893 - Church parsonage built.
  • 1876 - Lecture room on the west side of church completed, along with the baptistery deepened and heated.
  • 1896 - Parsonage built beside church
  • 1906 - Stained glass windows installed for $1,000.00
  • 1912 - The second parsonage, church flourishing by 1912 centennial
  • 1913 - Storm blew the belfry off the church.
  • 1952 - September 28, President Harry Truman and daughter Margaret visited the church. They sat in the fourth pew. Frank W. Hoover drove the second car behind the President and the Mayor of Wooster rode in Frank's car. Mary and Frank Hoover were married at the church. It has to be the very best place to get married because this June ?? it will be 40 years ago.
  • 1962 - Celebrated Sesquicentennial.


Newspaper articles

  • July 16, 1966: ""Wooster's First Baptist to Leave 'Church Corner': Bethany to Become 1st Baptist and Move to new Location"" by Unknown Author, The Daily Record, p. 6.
  • April 22, 1967: ""Bethany Is Now 'First Baptist Church'; Members Vote to Stay at Downtown Site"" by Unknown Author, The Daily Record, p. 5.
  • July 25, 1969: ""Big Decision Must Come about 1st Baptist Church"" by Unknown Author, The Daily Record, p..
  • August 20, 1969: ""Oldest Wooster Church May Still Continue to Serve Congregation"" by Unknown Author, The Daily Record, p. 30.
  • May 27, 1971: ""'Pathways to Heritage' Tour to Include Church"" by Unknown Author, The Daily Record, p. 13.
  • May 01, 1993: ""Genealogical Society 'Surprise Tour"" by Unknown Author, The Daily Record, p..

This church building was home to what may have been the first or certainly one of the first congregations in Wooster, Ohio. The First Baptist Church building which was known for more than a century as, Bethany Baptist Church, was erected in 1835 and completed in 1839 on its present site on the southwest corner of N. Market and Larwill streets. The original appearance of the building remains much the same today as it was originally constructed except that a tall steeple was removed (or blown off during a storm and not replaced) and the present tower constructed at some unrecorded date. The earlier towering steeple was visible from the Public Square in all of the earliest photographs which show the north side of Wooster Public Square and N. Market street. Another major change was that the original arched doorway entrance to the Church was on the north side of the building facing onto Larwill street around the building corner from where it faces onto N. Market St. today.

The church gained some national prominence in 1952 when President Harry Truman's special train stopped in Wooster and he proceeded to the Church and attended the regular morning worship service.