History of First BaptistWritten by Editor on Oct 30, 2010
1The First Baptist Church of Endicott (FBCE) was founded in October, 1905, amid the bustle of the growing Endicott Johnson Shoe Company, by eight believers who wanted to bring the love of Christ to the heart of Endicott. In only two weeks our membership had grown to 14, and within a month prayer and planning for a building began. Within months those prayers were answered when EJ generously donated a large lot at the corner of Grant and Monroe, and by July 1906, less than a year since they began, the cornerstone was laid. That same year FBCE joined the Broome-Tioga Baptist Association and we took on Rev. Vine Seagers as our first pastor.
Membership continued to grow steadily, and by 1909 the church was up to 50 members–we were ready to call our first full-time minister. Rev. Joseph McDoniels was hired with a salary of $800 per year and an unfurnished parsonage. In 1914 a new parsonage was built at 1404 Monroe Street, and continued in use until 1966.
Our growth continued steadily, and by 1916 our membership had grown to 349. Our annual budget was now up to $3,000 with missionary giving of $500. Through those formative years, we came to focus on sharing the love of Christ through education and mission, which remains our focus to this day, as we still hold Sunday School classes every week and continue to give generously to both overseas and domestic missions.
In 1917 we took yet another vital part of our church: then minister Rev. Parkhurst, formed Boy Scout Troop 202, and for over 90 years this ministry has helped countless young men to grow in responsibility and Christian character. As the Lord continued to bless us with new members, the time came for serious expansion. In 1923 plans were started for a large addition to the church, which included 20 Sunday School classrooms and a balcony to meet the needs of our new growth. A beautiful choir loft was also built over the baptistery and, as a generous gift, the Johnson family gave us a pipe organ, which also continues to be a vital part of our musical worship to this day. Meanwhile, undaunted by this massive construction project, our services continued at the UE High School, while prayer meetings were held in the parsonage garage.
By the time of our 20th anniversary as a church in 1925, our membership had grown to over 500, with Sunday School classes reaching up to an amazing 100 people. But difficult years were ahead. Through the depression in the 1930’s and the difficult years of the second World War, finances were tight and budgets had to be reduced; however, the church remained strong and healthy through faith in God’s provision, and continued to serve the community through education and mission. We also sent away over 100 men and women to serve in WWII.
In 1950 FBCE cashed in $3,000 of War Bonds and helped start a Russian Mission in Binghamton. Sadly, this mission was not successful, and was abandoned in 1952. However, 1954 brought more exciting changes for the church as continued growth and blessing led us to another complete renovation of our property. This was the second major renovation since the cornerstone was laid in 1906.
Membership reached an all-time high in 1958 with a total of 885 active and inactive members, while Sunday School attendance reached a record high of 359. As the country prospered in the post-war years and IBM replaced Endicott Johnson as the community’s economic backbone, the church prospered, as did our ministries of education and mission giving. However, the times were changing. When church numbers began to decline all over America in the sixties and seventies, FBCE felt the pressure as well and numbers began to decline. Nevertheless, we continued providing a large variety of Sunday School classes and gave as much to mission as the times afforded.
And then, in 1987, in a time of great need, the Lord showed His faithfulness and blessed us richly. At the passing of member Leo Fairbrother, we were bequeathed a generous gift of IBM stock. This, and others like it, have greatly aided First Baptist by allowing us much greater mission giving than ever before, and added greatly to the annual budget for our local ministry and renovation projects. It also helped us to buy the Emerson House property across from the church in 2005, which we use for Bible studies and community outreach, and for another major renovation of the church in preparation to commemorate 100 years of service to Jesus Christ.
Today, after 105 years of ministry, we still provide excellent Sunday School education and give to domestic and overseas missions–but just as importantly, we recognize the difficulties our community faces and seek to be a light in the world as our Lord commanded. As Paul said, “Not that [we] have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but [we] press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of [us].”
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