1857 – The Founding
The church was founded in the city in 1857 by a group of Baptists who were lead by Lewis G. Carter.
Carter was not only a significant person in the church. The Union Chapel was built on April 11, 1857.
It was a building that was to be used by those who were Baptist, Wesleyan Methodist, and Episcopalian (Anglican). Thus, began the continuing story of these congregations was each shared the same building
and held their own church services. The services of Port Colborne Baptist were conducted by Reverend Charles Walker from 1857 until 1871. He also served Baptist in Fonthill during this time.
The Baptist Congregation started with thirteen members, the first clerk of the church being Lewis G. Carter.
As the community grew and ministry to the community developed, each denomination identified the need for increased room and separate facilities. In 1867, the Anglicans withdrew from the chapel to their own building with that congregation worshiping in their new church east of the Union Chapel for the first time on July 1, 1867, the Day of Confederation. Their place in the Chapel was later taken by the Presbyterians. Port Colborne was incorporated as a village in 1870 and the community was then growing significantly.
In 1878, the Methodists also withdrew and subsequently built their own church, Central Methodist, on Clarence Street. Their current building is now located at Catherine and Delhi Streets, as Central United Church. The first St. James Anglican Church building was unfortunately destroyed by fire in 1915, but they rebuilt on the same site where they are today.
1873 – From the Union Chapel to the Baptist Chapel: (Clarence and Catharine Streets)
The Baptists' vision of having a building of their own for ministry was realized through the leadership of Lewis Carter. He donated the land, provided for the erection of the Baptist Chapel in 1873 at 83 Clarence Street, at the northwest corner of Clarence and Catharine Streets, and deeded it to the church, which then furnished it throughout. In 1874 the Baptists, with a membership of 42 people, took possession of the new building." A stone inscribed with the words Baptist Chapel was installed on the south outside wall of the building.
1927 – Enlargement and Remodeling of the 1873 Chapel: (Clarence and Catharine Streets)
In this change, a north portion was added to the original building, affording seven additional classrooms,
an enlarged sanctuary upstairs, a full basement underneath, and a side entrance on Catharine Street that replaced the old entry steps on Clarence Street at the base of the tower. The original baptistery was on the north end of the building, but in this remodeling was relocated from the north end of the church to the south end. The remodeled church was opened with a great celebration on Sunday March 18, 1928 with
Dr. N.H. Parker, Principal of our Baptist Convention's theological school, McMaster Divinity College, as guest speaker for the day,
1945 – Remodeling of the 1873 Chapel: (Clarence and Catharine Streets)
After 1927, the Depression of the nineteen-thirties presented considerable financial hardships, as it did
for many churches. But the leadership of the Reverend Dr. P. K. Dayfoot was a great blessing and encouragement for our church. In an annual report he remarked that with care the church had met all its commitments and financial mishaps had been avoided. However it was not until after 1940 that economic prosperity returned and by 1942 the bank loan had been completely paid off. Improvements to the building were then envisioned and deemed possible. A building improvement fund was started during the ministry of the Reverend Ralph Clark. Although no major exterior changes were made changes in the interior of the church took place in the year 1945, the year in which The Second World War ended: a war that saw many of our own local men and women serve, some at the cost of their lives. The dedication service was held September 9, 1945 with the Reverend Leland A. Gregory as preacher and soloist.
1960 – A Vision for Ministry in the Second Century
Before 1960, it became evident that major repairs including a new roof were urgently needed to the aging church building at Catharine and Clarence Street. There was also the recognition that enhanced facilities were needed for ministry. Indeed, in his account Omer Trayner sees there is a hope of "possibly in the future building larger." There were many who caught that vision and entered on the next bold venture, that of erecting the building at 84 Ridgewood Avenue, where our continuing story now unfolds.
1968 – A New Building After 95 Years: (84 Ridgewood Avenue; Clarence and Ridgewood)
The Reverend Herbert R. Stovell, newly inducted as pastor in 1967, provided key leadership in this building endeavour. The congregation was ready to expand our mission, but it was the same Holy Spirit mentioned by Omer Trayner that led and enabled. The entire congregation was fully supportive of the new venture. Clara Steele Ott, Mary Steele Shore and Mervyn D. Steele donated several lots at Clarence and Ridgewood. The church purchased additional adjacent property and the new building project was able to proceed. The company of Huriburt Associates erected our present church building at 84 Ridgewood Avenue. The sod was turned in June l967. The cornerstone was laid on October 29, 1967.
Opening and Dedication services for the new church were held April 21, 1968 with the Reverend Dr. Emlyn Davies as keynote speaker. The Baptist Chapel stone from the old church at Clarence and Catherine Streets was mounted in the new building's wall just outside the east entrance, on Ridgewood Avenue, providing a reminder of our "Chapel connection" to the building erected in 1873.
In 1980 a new west entranceway with vestibule and attached addition was put in place to house our library, now named the "Ethel A. Bogar Memorial Library and Resource Centre."
Our church has had a long history in Port Colborne and, by God’s help, we will continue to be a “Light” standing bright for God in our community until our Lord's return.
Faith of our fathers, we will love
Both friend and foe in all our strife;
And preach thee, too, as love knows how
By kindly words and virtuous life.
(Hymn by Fredrick W. Faber, 1849)