The First Baptist Church of Burlington has a 215 years history with a focus on biblical-based teaching and a strong mission program supporting local and international efforts.
As early as 1688 there has been a Baptist congregation and organization of Burlington. The standard of the Baptist faith was permanently planted by our first Pastor, Rev. William Staughton, in 1798. Two years after his arrival and success in reaching the people, a substantial Baptist church was in working operation. The church was officially organized on December 21st, 1800, by covenant; The First Calvinistic Baptist Church of Burlington was constituted by Church Council March 7th and 8th, 1801.
The current church building with its 100+ year old spired stone sanctuary building boasts a bell tower were the bells chime daily and massive, majestic stained glass windows depicting scenes from the Bible. It sits at the corner of Broad and Stacy streets. The building was purchased on February 9th, 1799, in payment amount of 160 pounds of gold and silver. Prior to this it was owned and occupied by the Society of Friends, first as a meeting place and later as a schoolhouse until 1792. It appeared to have been vacant thereafter, until purchased by the First Baptist.
The Rev. Staughton was held in high esteem in Burlington and after accepted a call to the First Baptist Church of Philadelphia in 1805, he still occasionally visited the Burlington church. He was a leading figure in the founding of foreign and domestic missionary societies and was considered the most eloquent preacher in his denomination; he was a dedicated educator, being engaged in teaching most of his life, and was a leader in missionary work.
He sent the next pastor, Rev. James Welch, along with John Mason Peck (who organized the First Baptist Church, of St. Louis, and the first missionary society in the West) to the Missouri Territories in 1817, and Dr. Jonathan Price to serve in Burma.
In 1813 the Rev. Burgess Allinson became the pastor, and under his efficient and faithful leadership the church became more active. During his tenure the first African-American became a member of the church and others followed. Education became a priority of the Church and granted the use of the lecture room to establish a day school.
In 1825 Deacon George Allen was called to the pastorate. In his first year as pastor, the First Baptist Sunday School was organized by Miss Bertha Ellis. Pastor Allen also then sat as the first superintendent of the school.
During his ministry numerous persons were converted to the faith, among them was Samuel Aaron, who became widely known as a minister, educator, temperance lecturer and anti-slavery activist.
In 1833 Rev. Samuel Aaron was called to serve as pastor. During his leadership a new house of worship was erected and the church took on new life and influence.
Rev. Fredrick Ketchum arrived to pastor in 1849 and officiated over 104 conversions before leaving in 1850.
From 1850 to 1854 during the tenure of Rev. Wheelock Parmly, the house of worship was enlarged and remodeled and through his great efforts the Baptist Church of Beverly was established.
In 1861 Rev. W.W. Meech entered the pastorate when the Civil War was in progress. The focus of the war was dominant in the spirit of the people and Christian work became difficult. On February 23rd, 1863 twelve African-American members of the church, at their request, united themselves into the Second Baptist Church of Burlington, now Christ Baptist Church
On September 1st, 1882, the Rev. Thomas M. Eastwood started his first of two Pastorates. During his first 10 years in Burlington, the chapel at Springside was built and 430 persons were added to the church membership. He left to the great regret to the church and the community.
The Rev. Madison Hare arrived as pastor in October 1892 and served for six years. He was appointed to the Third Regiment and served in the Spanish-American War.
Following Rev. Hare’s entrance into the military, an invitation was sent to and accepted by Rev. Thomas M. Eastwood to again pastor our church.
During his second pastorate, in 1912 the present house of worship was built. He continued the work with great success until June 30th, 1922, when he resigned after completing over a half-century of ministerial service. The greatly admired Rev. Eastwood tragically died that November after being struck by a car coming home from a prayer service at the Springside Chapel.
Rev. Millard Pierce became the pastor of the church November 1st, 1922, and served 25 years before leaving in 1947. During his tenure Mrs. Mary Hall Hare offered to erect, at her expense, The Walter E. Hall Memorial Church School.
Its entire second floor would become known as the Isabel Hall in memory of her deceased daughter. Its use was dedicated to the youth of the church.
Rev. William Allen began his ministry on April 11th, 1948. During his tenure of thirty five years, more than 450 people were welcomed into the membership. The major emphases of Rev. Allen’s ministry were the authority and importance of the scriptures, personal fellowship with Jesus Christ, a close and caring church family and strong support of a world missionary program.
In 1958 a Christian lending library was opened and continues to expand to this day, offering Christian books, periodicals, CDs and DVDs.
In May of 1968 a major fire destroyed much of the interior of the sanctuary including the pipe organ. Through God’s grace none of the stained glass windows was damaged, except the small "Rose window" up high on the north wall. Afterward church services were held temporarily in the second floor gymnasium in Isabel Hall.
The sanctuary eventually was restored to original condition except for the pipe organ, which was replaced with an electric organ. Because an accurate description or photo of the original "Rose Window" was unavailable, it was replaced with a different design.
Upon the retirement of Rev. Allen in November 1983 Rev. Thomas Bennett, started his ministry. During his 29 years of faithful service, he held to the same values of domestic and world-wide missions, the sound teaching and solid preaching of God’s word and giving great attention to the doctrines of grace, as did our Calvinistic founders.
In December of 2014 Reverend Kevin M. Lowe accepted an invitation to pastor our church and under his guidance and leadership, the dedication of our congregation and the seeking of God’s will, we are looking forward to carrying out the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Matthew 28:18-20 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."