Williamstown Baptist Church
On Saturday, June 1, 1878, L. Johnson, J. J. Rucker and J. N. Frost, of Lexington, met with 8 people at the Grant County Court House to organize a Baptist Church. They were: Homer Westover, Mrs. E. H. Daniels, H. H. Westover, H. C. Musselman, Mrs. Jesse Musselman, Mrs. Alice DeJarnette, Mrs. Alice Willis and P. W. Johnson, who comprised the charter members. C. H. McDowell was promptly called to be pastor.
Services were held at the courthouse until a new church building on Mill Street was completed. The Mill Street site was purchased in October 1880 at a cost of $800. In March 1881, architect Ed Ashley of Covington provided blueprints for the new building for a fee of $45. The infant church was so excited about the prospects of a new church building that immediately the sisters of the church sponsored quiltings and from the sale of handmade items they raised $90 for the purchase of their first church organ. Facing difficulty in raising the amount of money needed for construction, the building of the new edifice was delayed until March of 1882. The sisters of the church sponsored bazaars, rummage sales, box and pie suppers to raise funds. The community and state were canvassed in solicitation of funds. Work was halted several times until more funds could be raised. Dedication services were held the third Sunday of July 1883 at which time pledges were taken until the amount of $600 needed to be clear of debt was pledged. The church building together with furnishings was completed at a cost of $3,000.
In 1884 the church voted to have a Sunday School.
In 1919 the building was moved from Mill Street to Main Street. The Main Street property with 300’ frontage was purchased for $9,000. Two 100’ lots with dwellings were sold for $5,000. The mill street lot was sold for $1,000. Cost of moving was $8,000. During the transition the church met in the Presbyterian Church building for services. October 4, 1919 marked the first service in the Main Street church building. The church conducted its first Vacation Bible School in 1927.
In 1937 the church building was remodeled, with a portico added to the front and Sunday School rooms at the rear. A balcony, new pews, organ, carpeting and other furnishings were added to the interior. Total cost was $20,000. The remodeled edifice was dedicated January 20, 1943.
The parsonage was built in 1949 at a cost of $12,370.
On January 1, 1959, the church took possession of the adjacent H. S. Needham property., comprising a 14 room dwelling and more than 7 acres of land at the cost of $42,000. On June 1, 1961, the notes on said property were burned and the property dedicated. The house was used as an educational annex until August, 1963, when groundbreaking ceremonies marked the beginning of construction for our present edifice. Local contractor Jesse T. Cook was awarded the contract to build to lower level unit at a cost of $109,000. Wm. C. Bryant of Lexington was the architect. On Thanksgiving Sunday, 1965, an all day celebration was held at which time all banknotes were burned and the lower level dedicated. The day concluded with a baptismal service in which 20 candidates were baptized. This unit was adequate to care for the total church program; thus, in 1966, the old building was razed, and the properties readied for further construction and enlarged parking facilities.
Moving ahead of our construction schedule by five years, the upper structure was begun in July, 1968. Cravens & Cravens of Lexington was employed to construct the superstructure under the supervision of architect Wm. C. Bryant. Much of the exterior and most of the interior work was done by men of the church. January 24, 1971, the first worship service was held in the new sanctuary. The present building with furnishings and facilities was constructed at a cost of $375,000 and valued at $500,000.
The people of the church not only “had a mind to work,” but knew what God wanted, and with a love for our Lord, have done what many said was an impossible task. Without pledges, solicitations, or coercion, the church was debt free by the end of 1976. During this time, mission gifts through the Cooperative Program increased and the church is now giving 20 per cent of regular offerings. Other mission projects are supported over and above the 20 per cent.
Many of the items (furnishings, facilities, and equipment) are memorials to the loved ones gone to their regard – “they being dead, yet they speak.” The first name of the church was The Baptist church of Christ at Williamstown. After some 50 years the name was changed to Williamstown Baptist Church. Should another name be effected, inasmuch as so many memorials have been given (though in honor of loved ones, yet to the glory of Our Lord) the appropriate name might be, Calvary Memorial Baptist Church. The 575 members and many friends of our congregation together say, “To God be the glory, great things He hath done.” Amen.
From a dedication booklet. No author was credited.
The building that replaced this one had its first service on January 24, 1971.