First Baptist Church

Photograph of the interior of the Niagara Falls First Baptist Church

The history of First Baptist Church in Niagara Falls dates back to 1886, when the Home Missions Board of the Baptist Convention of Ontario and Quebec decided to open a Mission in the North End or what was called the Town of Niagara Falls. There was a church in the South End, then called Drummondville, and W.G. McKay was sent as pastor with instructions to hold morning and evening services there, but with afternoon services in the Town of Niagara Falls. The only building available was located on St. Lawrence Avenue near Queen Street. The congregation later moved to the City Hall for services until a building could be constructed.

In 1891, a meeting was held to discuss the organization of the congregation into a Church and a fund was begun to purchase a property. A lot was given by Mr. M.M. Buckley at the corner of Buckley Avenue and Morrison Street and construction was begun. The congregation was formally constituted into a Baptist Church on July 7, 1892 and the building opened the same week.

Within a decade it became apparent that the building on Morrison Street was too small and a property on Jepson Street was purchased. By 1915, plans were accepted for the construction of a building on that site. Before that work could be completed, it became necessary to erect a tent on the property to hold services, but when fall came they were moved to City Hall once again. During the influenza epidemic of 1918, the building was used as an emergency hospital because of its proximity to the hospital.

The church flourished, increasing in numbers until by 1958, it was apparent that further construction would be required to handle the services. The congregation decided to relocate to the Stamford area. The building was sold to the Christian Reformed Church and a new building was constructed on Pettit Avenue. This building was dedicated on April 3, 1960, and the congregation continued to grow over the next ten years.

Photo of the cover of a hymnal book with First Baptist Niagara Falls written on it

By 1970, the City of Niagara Falls had changed. Industries had moved away, taking some of the church leaders with them. Churches of all denominations began to feel the loss of active members and First Baptist Church was no less affected. It became apparent that a significantly decreased congregation should not try to maintain a building that had earlier been so well filled. It was decided to sell it to the Slavic Baptist Church, then located in St. Catharines but serving the Immigrant population from the former Russian Republic spread throughout the whole Niagara area. On October 1, 2010, the congregation of First Baptist church decided to share facilities with the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd on Dorchester Road, and a schedule for service times and other events was worked out satisfactorily for both Churches.

By Fred Habermehl

See Niagara Falls First Baptist Church: Fred Habermehl and Donald L. Combe (2017)
And The Jepson Street Church 1016 to 2016 : Richard Meloen (2016)

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