Erlanger Baptist Church
Baptists have been represented in Erlanger since the earliest settlers. Bartlett Graves was a member of the Dry Creek Baptist Church which served the area I in the early 1800's. Baptists who lived in the new town of Erlanger worshiped in the Union Church when it was completed in 1888. Shortly thereafter, the Baptists withdrew from the Union Church and began holding their own services in the skating rink oil Crescent Avenue. The North Bend Association of Baptists supported this effort by assisting the Florence Baptist Church with a mission at Erlanger in 1888. A committee was appointed to solicit funds for the erection of a church building if interest was sufficient. The committee reported positively in 1889 and the North Bend Association accepted a lot on Commonwealth Avenue from the Erlanger Land Syndicate on which to construct a church. In 1890, the church building was constructed by the Association at a cost of $4,323.50. The building was dedicated on November 30, 1890, before a large crowd. The collection taken at the dedication was sufficient to cover the remaining debt of $600. The church, however, was not constituted until June 1891, with 13 charter members. The church had grown to 19 members by September. The church purchased its first organ in 1891 for $90 and its first bell in 1892. The first minister, Oscar M. Huey, was called oil January 10, 1892, at a salary of $250 per year. The new Erlanger Baptist Church soon indicated its interest in supporting a mission at Elsmere and in a few years, the Elsmere Baptist Church was established.
As the church grew, improvements were made to the building. In 1900, the coal oil lamps, which provided light for the church, were replaced by gasoline lamps. Later that year a modern hot air furnace was purchased for $120. By 19 10, the church had grown to I include 165 members with 183 enrolled in Sunday School. That same year, the church reported contributions of $224.08 to missions. In 1918, work was started oil a basement to be used for Sunday School rooms. The basement was completed in 1921. A parsonage was built In 1923 at 3504 Elm Street. A Sunday School annex was completed in 1926 for $16,000. In 1937, the church installed an electric organ. The choir was organized in 1938.
In 1940, when the Church celebrated its 50th anniversary, it reported a membership of 354 persons. At that time, the church had paid all debts and had established a building fund looking toward the future. In 1941,the church field its first Vacation Bible School and the church library was established. In 1946, the church voted to build educational facilities at the rear of the church. This was followed in 1948 with the church voting to tear down the old auditorium so that a new sanctuary could be built. The basement was renovated and services were held in the basement while the new building was constructed, the basement was completed in 1949 and the new sanctuary was completed in 1953. Beginning inthe1950's, adjoining property was purchased as it became available This property provided space to meet the ever increasing needs of the growing church.
In 1961, an educational building was constructed for $175,000. The old parsonage was sold in 1964 and a new one purchased at 130 Commonwealth Avenue. In 1964, the church established a kindergarten since the public schools did not provide this service. The kindergarten continued until 1978 when kindergartens were added in the public schools. In 1965, the church inaugurated a ministry for the deaf including an interpreter at the Sunday morning worship service. The new sanctuary was air conditioned in 1968.
By 1971, the church had grown to more than 1,100 members. A new baptistry was installed in 1974. A building program was adopted in 1979 which resulted in a new parking lot, enlarged balcony, new Sunday School area, auditorium expansion, and refurbishing. In 1983, the church called Rev. William Crosby as its minister. Over the years the Erlanger Baptist Church has been known for its strong support of missionary activities. Dr. Crosby encouraged even stronger support for missions. He has also presided over expanding church facilities. In 1985, the Church began a holiday tradition by offering its first Living Christmas Tree Program directed by Philip Quinn. In 1988, the Church called Rev. Tim Bender as minister, for the deaf mission, which had been established by the Church. In 1990, the Church celebrated its centennial with a yearlong schedule of activities. the Church also started dual Sunday schools in order to make better use of limited space. Since that time, the church has added a Saturday night worship service. In 1996, the church embarked a program to build a $2 5 million Christian Life Center. The Christian Life Center, expected to be completed in early 1997, would include a day care center, preschool, basketball and racquetball courts, indoor track, exercise room, showers and lockers.
These paragraphs are from the Erlanger Historical Society’s History of Erlanger. It is copyrighted material by the Society, and is used here by their gracious permission