Location: North-east corner of New York and Pennsylvania streets.
The first assemblage of Baptists in Indianapolis was nearly fifty years ago. An old record, still preserved, quaintly states that "The Baptists at, and near Indianapolis, having removed from various parts of the world, met at the School House in Indianapolis, in August, 1822, and after some consultation, adopted the following resolution: Resolved, that we send for helps, and meet at Indianapolis, on the 20th day of Sept'r next for the purpose of establishing a regular Baptist church at s'd place. That John W. Reding write letters to little Flat Rock & Little Cedar Grove churches for help. That Samuel McCormack write letters to Lick Creek and Franklin churches for helps--then adjourned."
The next meeting was pursuant to adjournment. Elder Tyner attended from Little Cedar Grove church and "after Divine service sent into business." "Letters were received and read from Brothers Benjamin Barns, Jeremiah Johnson, Thomas Carter, Otis Hobart, John Hobart, Theodore V. Denny, John McCormack, Samuel McCormack, John Thompson, and William Dodd, and Sisters Jane Johnson, Nancy Carter, Nancy Thompson, Elizabeth McCormack, and Polly Carter, then adjourned until Saturday morning 10 o'clk."
Saturday morning:"Met according to adjournment and after Divine service letters were rec'd from John W. Reding and Hannah Skinner. Brother B. Barns was appointed to speak and answer for the members--and Brother Tyner went into an examination, and finding the members sound in the Faith pronounced them a regular Baptist church, and directed them to go into business.".
"Brother Tyner was then chosen moderator, and John W. Reding clerk. 1st agreed to be called and known by the name of the First Baptist Church, at Indianapolis, then adjourned until the third Saturday in Oct'r 1822.
J. W. Reding, Ck."
Benjamin Barns appears to have been rather the most prominent among the early membership, for on the third Saturday of June, 1823, the record recites: "agreed that Bro. B. Barnes be called to preach to this church once a month until the end of this year: to which Bro Barns agreed"
The first deacon was John Thompson, who was, by a unanimous vote of the church, called to that ofice on the third Saturday of December, 1822.
In May, 1823, Samuel McCormack was "ordered to be a singing clk. to this church."
A committee appointed to secure a place of worship, consisting of J. Carter, H. Bradly, and D. Wood, reported that "the School house may be had without interruption." This was a new log school house, situated on the north side of, and partly in, Maryland street, between Tennessee and Mississippi streets.
On the third Saturday, in November, 1824, a committee of three was appointed "to rent a room or repair the school house for a meeting house the ensuing season, to report at the next meeting." At the next meeting, in January, 18725, the committee reported "that $1.25 had been expended in repairing the school house,-- and the deacon is requested to pay the same out of the joint funds, and that each Brother pay the Bro. deacon a small sum on to-morrow." At the same meeting it was, "on motion, agreed that the church petition the present Gen'l Assembly for a site to build am meeting house upon; and that the S. E. half of the shade block 90 be selected, -- and that Bro. J. Hobart, H. Bradley and the clk. be appointed to bear the petition." In due time the committee reported that the petition had "failed."
In the spring of 1825, Major Thomas Chinn invited the church to use his house as a place for worship during the summer; which invitation was accepted.
In June, 1825, the church purchased from Wm. Wilmott, Esq., lot 2, in square 50, for use. There was a small frame house on the lot, which was not plastered, and arrangements were made to finish it, which were afterwards "postponed sinadi," and the house left as it was. An apportionment was ordered to pay for the house and lot, and a committee reported an assessment of $48, divided among the fifteen male members of the church.
In January, 1825, Rev. Cornelius Duvall, of Owen county, Kentucky, was called to the pastorate. Nothing resulted from this call, so far as appears upon the records, and in December, 1826, Rev. Abraham Smock was called as pastor for one year; he accepted and soon began his labors. Soon afterward, the church disposed of the lot purchased from Wilmott, and lot 3, in square 75 (where Schnull's block now stands) was purchased for $100, and a meeting house erected in 1829.
In July, 1830, Rev. A. Smock resigned, and or some time the church was without a pastor.
In September, 1831, of two members received into the church, by letter, one was "Bro. Mosely Stewart, (man of color.")
In May, 1832, Rev. Byron Lawrence was "requested to preach for us as frequently as he can on Lord's day for six months."
In April, 1833, Revs. Jameson Hawkins, Byron Lawrence, and Ezra Fisher, were "invited to preach for this church statedly, on each Lord's day, making their own arrangements."
In August, 1833, "Bro. Anthony A. Slaton, (man of color,) was rec'd by letter."
In February. 1834, Rev. Ezra Fisher was called "to be the stated preacher of the church." He served in this capacity some months, and in January, 1835, T. C. Townsend was requested to preach by the church, until a regular pastor should be settled.
In July, 1835, Rev. J. L. Richmond was called to the pastorate and accepted.
The house of worship first erected on the new lot was replaced in due time by a more pretentious frame edifice, which was occupied by the church as a place of worship, for a number of years.
In 1843, the Rev. George C. Chandler took the pastorate and remained until 1847. He was succeeded by Rev. T. R. Cressy, who continued until 1852. He, in turn, gave way to Rev. Sidney Dyer, who labored until 1857, and was followed by Rev. J. B. Simmons, who preached from 1858 to 1861. On the morning of the first Sunday, in January, 1861, the church building was destroyed by fire, and for a time after that, the congregation worshiped in Masonic Hall. Mr. Simons resigned the pastorate in 1861, and Rev. Henry Day, of Philadelphia, was called to the vacant pulpit. Mr. Day accepted the call, has been the pastor of the church ever since, and has fully earned his high place in the public estimation, without as within his congregation. To repair the destruction caused by the fire, the church at once purchased a desirable site on the north-east corner of New York and Pennsylvania streets, and in 1862, began the erection of the commodious and handsome brick edifice shown in the accompanying engraving.
Under the ministration of Rev. Mr. Day, the church has enjoyed an uninterrupted progress; so that to-day, in respect of the extent and character of its congregation, and of influence, it occupies the front rank in the numerous religious societies of Indianapolis.
The present number of members is five hundred and fifty-eight.
The Sabbath-School is also in a highly prosperous condition. For a period of over twenty years, it was under the charge of the late J. R. Osgood, to whose eminent zeal, piety and efficiency, a large measure of its prosperity is due. The school now numbers over six hundred scholars.
The church building, though not strictly homogeneous and "true" in respect of its architecture, is nevertheless, a commodious and elegant edifice; and its internal appointments are of the first class. It cost about $50,000; and will readily seat twelve hundred people. It has a fine organ that cost $2500. Its erection as one of the fruits of that quite recent spirit of rivalry in splendor of church architecture, that has resulted in making Indinapolis eminent for the number of its elegant church edifice.
The officers for the present year are as follow:
Pastor. -- Reverend Henry Day, D. D.
Deacons. -- E. C. Atkins, H. S. Gillet, and J. M. Sutton.
Trustees. -- C. P. Jacobs, J. W. Smither, E. J. Foster, H. Knippenberg, H. C. Martin, J. M. Sutton, S. C. Hanna, and W. C. Smock.
Holloway, W. R., Indianapolis, a Historical and Statistical Sketch of the Railroad City, a Chronicle of Its Social, Municipal, Commercial and Manufacturing Progress, with Full Statistical Tables, © 1870, pp. 216-218.