“From a little acorn, the mighty oak doth grow.”- Florence Meserve Goetchius
With this quote, Florence Meserve Goetchius described the beginnings of a small organization of believers that has become the First Baptist Church of Abington. Many Baptist families were either attending local churches of other denominations or were associated with Baptist churches in Whitman and Rockland. After a series of nightly conversations, a group of twelve men and women agreed to organize in January 1886, and be known as the First Baptist Church of North Abington. On Wednesday evening, March 3, 1886, the church was formed. There were twenty-eight charter members present. September 14, 1887, a church building was dedicated. That building is our sanctuary today. Members, local businessmen, and funds from the Massachusetts State Convention helped to make the building possible. During this period, the first Sunday School program was organized, and on March 11, 1888, the first baptism was held in the new church.
A Focus on Missions
On November 25, 1890 a Young People's Society and a Young People's Baptist Union were formed. Attention then turned to the area of Missions and of missionary giving. The first missionary organization of our church was a girl's mission band called “Willing Workers.” On September 10, 1893, the Women's Mission Circle was organized. Around this time, the first systematic plan for Missionary Giving was adopted.
The Origins of our Women's Fellowship Program
In 1898, the emphasis turned to Church School work with the first teacher training classes held. In (1904-1909) the church annex was built at the rear of the sanctuary. The first pipe organ was installed, in a choir loft at the left of the present pulpit platform. 1907 saw the formation of the Women's Social Club. This program, along with the Women's Mission Circle, is the foundation of the present Women's Fellowship program. The church fellowship celebrated its 25th Anniversary, in 1911. A large pipe organ was purchased and installed along with a remodeling of the main auditorium.
Church Buys Parsonage
In 1925 the church purchased property at 55 Harrison Avenue for a parsonage. Extensive improvements to this house were made in the spring of 1931. This parsonage served six pastors and their families until a decision was made in 1965 to construct a new dwelling at 229 Summit Road.
1931 Was a Memorable Year
The Sunday School was reorganized into departments, a Board of Deaconesses was elected (the first in the church's history) and aggressive Young People's programs continued through the church's involvement in Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and Boys Ranger Brigade programs.
Mary Hattie Eldredge Goes Home
On August 1, 1937, Mary Hattie Eldredge, the last charter member, died. In the fifty-one years of her association, she saw the membership grow from the original twenty-eight members to over two hundred thirty.
Our Present Location is Purchased
Through a generous gift, the property on the corner of Adams Street and North Avenue was acquired. The lot was landscaped as a gift from local nurseries.
World War II Takes Three of Our Own
During World War II, the church family was saddened by the loss of three of its young men in the Armed Services: Charles Bellows, Jr., Robert Nevens, and Wendell Chamberlin. The altar was rebuilt and their families made memorial gifts of the pulpit and lectern.
In 1949, the congregation voted to purchase a building and lot south of the church structure as a possible site for additional Sunday School classrooms and recreational facilities. Repair and improvements were made on church and parsonage buildings and grounds mostly through the hard work and willing hands of lay members (men and women)-a practice that still continues today.
A Tradition of Service
The church family continued to learn and serve through Sunday School, Women's Mission Circle, Young People's Fellowships, Women's Bible Class, Men's Bible Class, and the Mr. & Mrs. (Social) Club. The church also continued to sponsor Scout Troops.
A fund-raising program to begin the construction of the addition to the church that now includes the Fellowship Hall, the kitchen and Sunday School classrooms was begun in 1951.
1958 - Pastor Miller
Rev. George F. Miller began his ministry in June 1958, a relationship which was to last for twenty-two and one-half years. The church family marked its 75thAnniversary with a banquet and program on March 3, 1961. Membership at that time was 390. During this period we sponsored two refugee families. This included assuring that employment and housing would be available. In 1965 the decision was made to build a new parsonage on Summit Road
The emphasis within the church family turned toward an out-reach into the community. The church building was made, and still is, available to the Council on Aging for a "Meals Program" for the elderly, Abington Visiting Nurse Well-Child Clinic, and Blood Pressure Testing for the town's senior citizens, and the School Department for testing and registering Public Kindergarten children. Pastor Miller, during his ministry, served the Council on Aging as chairman. He also assisted in creating Abington Elderly Services, Inc. and was Chaplain of Abington's Fire Department.
1980 - Pastor Hinckley
Upon Pastor Miller's retirement in December of 1980 he was named the church's first Pastor Emeritus. We chose our next pastor, Rev. Robert G. Hinckley. He began his ministry on September 1, 1981, and was officially installed on October 25, 1981.
In 1985, plans were made and funds pledged for a celebration of our church's l00th Anniversary to occur in 1986. Plans included a proposal to use 50% of the funds for a “hands-on” mission project to assist in the building of a Haitian mission church in La Romana, Dominican Republic. This project became a reality on February 14-22, 1986 when twenty of our members went there for one week. The second half of the funds was used for extensive work on our own church building.
Traditions of Missions and Outreach Continue
On-going and long-term traditions and programs: the publishing and mailing of the weekly newsletter, The Baptist Visitor, first published in 1952; the celebration of Advent through special programs of music, crafts and various local missions and the “Hanging of the Greens,” an evening service continued annually since 1949. This program interprets the Christian meaning in the symbols of our heritage. Many church members assist Sharing, Inc. in its conduct of the Good Friday 20-mile “Walk-for-Hunger” (since 1973) which raises funds for self help projects in the rural south. Abington First Baptist continues its tradition as a strong missionary church heavily committed to foreign and home missions, supporting local programs such as Rosie's Place, Boston, St. Paul's Food Kitchen, Brockton, The Way-Up, Quincy, Teen Challenge, Brockton, while at the same time contributing generously to the American Baptist Churches, USA-United Mission Program. The enlisting of tithes and offerings from members remains the cornerstone of the church's budget.
New Educational Wing is Constructed
The purchase of two adjoining properties has allowed us increased parking, as well as, the addition of a new educational wing. The wing includes four offices, a nursery, and eight classrooms. The mission project in La Romana continues to grow with the building of a hospital, and on-going hurricane assistance.
Pastor Hinckley Retires
Reverend Hinckley during his ministry was involved in The Abington Clergy Association, (including the community Thanksgiving service), National Day of Prayer, nursing home ministry, Evanswood worship leader and speaker, Health Education Advisory member to the School Committee for the Town of Abington. He was also involved as chaplain for the Fire Department, with TABCOM on the Executive Committee, Chairmen of Mission Support as well as the Old Colony Baptist Association. Reverend Hinckley served as mentor for the pastor at the Whitman Baptist Church, and youth minister, Jeffrey Wisdom. Reverend Hinckley retired in May of 1998
1981 - 2000: Pastor Burgess
Rev. Dr. John Burgess served as interim pastor until July 31, 2000 while the pastoral search committee worked to find a full-time pastor. Dr. Burgess had been a professor and chairman of the Elementary Education Department at Gordon College. He served as pastor at a number of New England churches. He also served with Wycliffe Bible Translators.
2000 - Pastor Babson
Rev. John Babson came to us on August 1, 2000 from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Rev. Babson's ministry was known for his emphasis on prayer and ministering to the sick. He championed the 50 Day Adventure study. Pastor Babson's ministry was shortened when he retired in April of 2002 after a three month illness.
Pastor Kanter - 2004
Rev. Lawrence (Larry) Kanter filled in for Pastor Babson during his illness beginning in February 2002. In May 2002 the church asked Pastor Kanter to serve as Interim Pastor while the pastoral search committee worked to find a full-time pastor. At the Annual Meeting in January 2003, the church voted to make Pastor Kanter our Covenant Pastor. On June 17, 2004, on the recommendation of the Pastoral Search Committee, the church members voted to call Pastor Kanter as our Senior Pastor.