History of the Rockford Baptist Church
In 1854, F. W. Covey came from Grand Rapids and started a Mission in Laphamville, Father Brigham (lovingly called "Father" because of his kindness to the Indians) also came and preached at the Mission.
On March 9th, 1857, a few members and Rev. Francis Prescott met and organized the Baptist Church and Society of Laphamville. Those present at this meeting were: John Watkins, George Hutchings, O. H. Sanford, R. L. Blakely, O. F. Hyde, C. Willins, George Stodard, Richard Briggs, John Jones, Norman Stillwell, Joseph Keech, H. H. Worden, Harvey B. Smith, and Rev. Prescott. The first trustees were George Hutchings, Norman Stillwell, John Watkins, Richard Briggs, R. L. Blakely was appointed Clerk, and John Watkins as Treasurer.
At once plans were made to start building a meeting house. A committee consisting of George Stoddard, L. C. Wilkin, and Rev. Prescott were appointed and in September the plan of the building was adopted and the job let out. The auditorium of the present Church is the original meeting house erected in 1858. The services were held in the School House during the erection of the building. To aid in financing the church, the pews were rented. This practice was discontinued in 1870. The first organ was purchased in 1866 for $165. The sheds were built in 1869. Two are in use today as garage and wood shed.
In 1877 the first offerings were taken at the services. In 1893 the electric lights were installed and from then until Mr. Lower sold out, the electricity was a gift of Mr. Lower. In 1900 the first furnace was installed. In 1905 the old pews were replaced with new ones. In 1913 the Church was reorganized as the First Baptist Church of Rockford. Since that time a parsonage has been built, memorial windows installed replacing the first plain glass windows, two additions to the Church built on, a partial basement built, a new baptistry built, and the grounds fixed up considerably.
The Church has prospered in a financial way, and also in Spiritual way. We now have 144 members; a Bible school with an average attendance of 130. Three young people's societies flourishing, an Annual Daily Vacation Bible School, and a strong Missionary Spirit in the Church.
The member of longest standing is W. L. Chapman. He was baptized in 1876. The next in line is M. A. Norton, he was baptized in 1886.
We have as members of our Church a Grandson (Dale Hutchings) of the first deacon (George Hutchings), who was a charter member of the church; a great-grandson (Earl Hutchings); (Gene Hutchings) and (Melvin Hutchings); and a great-grand-daughter, (Nola Seeley). Like Father, like Son seems to be working out very true as these and others carry on the "Faith of Our Fathers."
The present Baptist Church is maintaining the testimony of the early Baptist Pioneers as to implicit faith in the entire Bible as God's Inspired Word; the Deity of Jesus Christ; the Blood of Jesus Christ as the only Remedy for Man's Sin; Salvation by Grace through Faith in Jesus Christ; and the Personal return of Jesus Christ to this Earth in the near future. The church is a fundamental church with a gospel message preached in love. No apology needs to be made for standing for the "Old Book and the Old Faith" in the midst of a changing world. The church will ever preach the gospel of Jesus Christ which is "the Power of God unto Salvation to every one that believeth."
Pastors who have served the church are: -- Rev. Prescott, Rev. Isaac Barker, Rev. Powell, Rev. D. E. Hills (3 pastorates), Rev. Stevens, Rev. J. H. Morrison, Rev. Wilkie, Rev. Frank E. Wright (2 pastorates), Rev. Isaac Horton, Carlton Snashall (Supply Pastor); Rev. Geo. Cram, Rev. Gagnier, Rev. Heskiet, Rev. Allyen, Rev. Van Westenburg, Rev. Handcock (jointly with con), Rev. McGrath, Rev. A. M. Conklin, Rev. Cook, Rev. Orton, Rev. Karney, Rev. Boyd, Rev. Nichols and Rev. Ralph Compson, as the present pastor.