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History of First Baptist Church, Reading, Pennsylvania

This history appeared in Morton Montgomery's 1908 edition of The History of Berks County, p. 1483.

Surnames: THOMAS, JAMES, JOHNSTON, FAULKNER, OLIVER, LOCKHART, HIGGINS, BARKER, KUTCHIN, PHILIPS, HENDRICKSON, ANDREWS, HAMMITT, BEVAN, FREAR, SEMBOWER, DEITZ, BROMLEY, MAXWELL, SHAABER

The First Baptist Church, Reading, Pa. Baptist interests in the present County of Berks had one of their earliest beginnings at the time of the Tulpehocken land surveys made for the proprietors by young Rees Thomas about the year 1722. Some time later a number of Welsh Baptists, among them Rees Thomas, settled on these lands and on Aug. 19, 1738, formed themselves into the Tulpehocken Baptist Church, with twenty-one constituent members.

German Baptists or Dunkards had entered Oley township in 1719.

There probably was an attempt made at an early date to form a Baptist Church in Reading, but of this there is only indefinite tradition. One of the several meeting houses of the Tulpehocken Church was situated near the western bank of the Schuylkill river, opposite the town of Reading.

The Tulpehocken Church after an existence of sixty years became so reduced in membership that in the year 1800 it ceased to exist, and a part of its property was sold. The proceeds of the sale were retained for a number of years in hope that the work on that side of the river might be revived, but after long waiting the money and the effort were transferred to the town across the river, and on Dec. 20, 1828, the First Baptist Church of Reading was formed with six constituent members, who were: William James, Adam Johnston, John Faulkner, Ann S. Oliver, Sarah Faulkner and Mary A. Lockhart. This church has maintained a continuous and successful existence since its organization; its present membership is seven hundred and seventy three.

The pastors of the Church have been: George Higgins, 1829-1830; Enoch M. Barker, April 1, 1835, to about July 14, 1838; Thomas T. Kutchin, Dec. 1, 1838, to about Aug. 1, 1839; Enos M. Philips, June 10, 1840, to Feb. 1, 1844; Charles R. Hendrickson, March 1, 1844, to Sept. 1, 1844; Emerson Andrews, May 24, 1845, to May 1, 1846; Joseph Hammitt, May 2, 1846, to May 1, 1849; Enoch M. Barker, May 26, 1849, to March 24, 1850; Isaac Bevan, July 1, 1850, to Dec. 31, 1857; George Frear, June 16, 1858, to Jan. 31, 1872; Alpheus H. Sembower, June 1, 1872, to Aug. 31, 1884; Charles M. Deitz, Jan. 1, 1885, to April 1, 1889; Joseph S. Bromley, Jan. 1, 1890, to Dec. 31, 1905; and James A. Maxwell, April 11, 1906, ----- .

There have been gone out from this Church, the Berean Baptist Church, July 17, 1879; and the Memorial Baptist Church, Oct. 6, 1908. The Church also conducts a mission at Millmont. The first meeting house of the Church was erected in 1829, at the southeast corner of Front and Cherry streets. The second meeting house was erected in 1836, on Chestnut street above Fourth street. The third meeting house was erected in 1845, on Chestnut street above Fourth street; this building is still standing. The fourth meeting house was erected in 1893-95 at the southwest corner of Fifth and Chestnut streets. This is the building at present occupied by the Church. The parsonage of the Church is at No. 221 South Fifth street. [Andrew Shaaber, Church Historian.]


Gillis Sampler

Last Modified Thursday, 16-Oct-2008 21:07:47 EDT

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