First Baptist to mark 150 years

LOCK HAVEN — The First Baptist Church of Lock Haven will celebrate 150 years of ministry at its only permanent home, on the corner of East Church and Vesper streets.

The celebration will take place Sunday, Nov. 19, starting at 9:30 a.m. with an hour of reflections, followed by worship at 10:30 a.m.

A complimentary lunch will follow the morning service, and all are invited.

First Baptist Church’s history closely parallels that of Lock Haven. Just three years after the town was laid out, the church was started under the ministry of Rev. George Higgins, in 1836. The church body met in various locations for 30 years before purchasing its present property

Under the ministry of Rev. J.G. Miles, the church began construction of its new home in April 1866 and on Nov. 24, 1867, the congregation began meeting in the lecture room of the building. Construction continued under the ministries of Rev. A.B. Runyon and Rev. G.W. Snyder, reaching completion in 1871.

Historical records indicate that during this same time, the Clinton County Courthouse and the Opera House were both constructed as well.

Like most churches that have existed as long as First Baptist, the church has experienced its share of ups and downs over the years, even having its building auctioned at a sheriff’s sale in 1879 after falling into debt. Thankfully, the property was purchased by two men, John and Henry Munroe, who wanted to preserve it for God’s glory, allowing the congregation to continue meeting there. Through all those ups and downs, the church body has persevered and even thrived.

Eventually ownership of the property returned to the church, and in 1905 a parsonage was built next to it, which now serves as the church’s offices. In the years 1929 and 1930 the church was renovated with electric lights and stained glass windows that have been part of the building’s decor to this day. In 1960 an education wing was erected, and from 1972 to 1980, the current auditorium, seating 500, was constructed.

“The church family is excited at what God is doing in the area and looks forward to many days of fruitful ministry in the years to come,” said Rev. Doug Packard, the church’s pastor.

All are invited to join the church family for the morning of celebration and the lunch to follow. Those planning to participate in the lunch are asked to make a reservation by Nov. 10 by calling the church office at 570-748-3744 and leaving a message.