A SHORT HISTORY OF FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH
Baptists first began meeting together in Owosso in the spring of 1836; Many early meetings were held in the log home of Judge Elias Comstock. This home can still be seen today, having been relocated to Heritage Park, in front of Curwood Castle. This fellowship continued with regular worship and sermon readings until 1844 when the group disbanded as these early settlers moved on.
In June of 1856 a group of Baptists, including some from the first group, met to consider again organizing a Baptist church. A committee of two was appointed to draft articles of faith and a church covenant. In August the documents were first given for consideration. In November of 1856 the proposed documents were adopted and the First Baptist Church of Owosso was established.
The church was received into the Shiawassee Baptist Association in May of 1857. In January of 1859 a new house of worship was built on the corner of Washington and Oliver Street at a cost of $625.00, furnishings included. This wooden building was dedicated on Oct, 9, 1860 . This same year a Sunday School ministry was organized. In 1869 the present lots were purchased at a cost of $1500.00 and the wooden church was moved to our present site in 1870. A new brick building was built to replace the chapel and dedicated in May of 1877, with the wooden chapel moved and attached to the back of the new building.
First Baptist Church now became the center of much of the cultural life of the community. The building of 1877 was replaced by a much larger facility which was dedicated on May 3, 1896. The membership grew as the gospel was faithfully preached, and by 1925 there were 696 adult members in the congregation. A ministry was started in West Owosso which continued for a number of years. In 1933 a theological disagreement led to a division of the fellowship and the establishment of Grace Bible Church in Owosso. Rev. Floyd Norton was called to rebuild the congregation. His work was blessed and the church grew once again.
A tragic blow hit the church on February 3, 1942 when a fire destroyed the building. A color film of this fire is part of our archives. Part of the old building was saved and incorporated into a smaller, but adequate building, which was dedicated in 1946.
This current building remained the same until a Welcome Center, new bathrooms, elevator and ground level entrance were added to the front (south) of the church and dedicated in 2005 under the leadership of Pastor Ray Strawser. In 2015 Rev. Jeremiah Ritchie was called as the 33rd pastor of First Baptist Church.
Our congregation remains committed to the mission and ministry of serving and sharing Jesus Christ with our community. Much has changed at First Baptist in recent years, including a new team approach to ministry and the use of the latest technologies in worship, but our mission remains the same as it was in 1856--to the share the Good News of God's love and salvation with our neighbors, to grow mature and empowered believers and to support the work of missionaries around the world.