First Baptist Church holds cornerstone ceremony

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Congratulations to First Baptist Church in Tillsonburg who had the cornerstone ceremony for their new church at 18 Harvest Avenue!

God moved mountains, with a little help from the parishioners over the last decade, to build this wonderful new place of worship.

So, how long have the Baptists been in Tillsonburg? Well, there have been Baptists in the town for over 167 years. In Tillsonburg’s beginnings, in 1825, the people were the church and they brought their faith with them. They worshiped in their homes with their families. For many families the only book they had was the Bible and it was part of their everyday life and their sustenance. Itinerant ministers went from town to town on a circuit to spread the word and perform marriages and funerals.

Eventually, like on the television shows When Calls the Heart or Little House on the Prairies, a school was built and that served as a church as well, located on the northeast corner of Simcoe Street and Tillson Avenue. This may have been the log cabin that the United Presbyteries built in 1835. They had town founder George Tillson as a member but the building was used by all denominations. In the 1840s a framed church/school was built on Broadway where Tillsonburg Tire is today.

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As the town grew and more people of the same denomination arrived they would meet in groups in various buildings with enough space. This is exemplified by the Baptists, when on Dec. 25, 1853, they officially formed their congregation using the Broadway school house and the Sons of Temperance hall.

Individual denominational church buildings began with two groups. The Presbyterians who built the ‘old Pres’, the framed forerunner of Avondale on Harvey Street, which opened in 1855 and the New Connection Methodist who built their framed church on Market Street. Alas, we don’t have an actual date for their building. Other denominations used both buildings with the Baptists and Anglicans using the Old Pres. In 1871 the Methodist built their new church and the Baptists bought the Market Street church.

Their congregation grew and by the early 1880s they were ready to build their own church on the corner of Washington Grand Avenue and Bidwell Street.

John McFarlane removed the old foundry buildings on the site and in 1884 they had room for 260 parishioners in their beautiful new church. A Sunday school was added in 1919 and in 1937 a manse for the minister. But that church is not the same building that you see today, for in 1946 it was destroyed by fire. Five years later, in June 4, 1950, the building standing today was dedicated to God. Their Christian education wing was added in 1965.

It is a wonderful thing to keep outgrow your church building and that is why there was a cornerstone laid on Aug. 2 which read: To The Glory of God 2020, First Baptist Church Tillsonburg, Est. 1853.

Pastor Steve noted construction is now 75 per cent complete and they will likely be in the building by late November this year.

Currently they are offering an online church service through their YouTube channel FBC Tillsonburg each Sunday. They must await news from the community centre as to when they can resume services there for the fall.

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