Main Street Baptist Church
Thursday, June 20, 2013
Organization of the Church
Its beginning was in 1856 when several people who attended the Freewill Baptist church at Oneonta Plains were granted a dismissal for the purpose of establishing a second church. On February 25, 1856, an organizational meeting was held; the council consisted of three ministers and two laymen. Sixteen persons become charter members, and the church was given the name Second Freewill Baptist Church of Oneonta. In April 1856, Rev. Orange T. Moulton was called to be the first pastor of the church. The first services were held at the Emmons schoolhouse since several of the early members lived in Emmons. Later that same year, the time came to select a site for erecting a church building. The site chosen was the present location - the corner of Main and Maple Streets. A wooden structure was erected in 1857, and it was replaced in 1889 with the present brick edifice.
These Photos of some of the charter members of the Freewill Baptist Church, were taken from a book honoring the church's 50th anniversary in 1906.
In 1892, the Freewill Baptists changed their names to Free Baptist. The new name encompassed more of their beliefs, whereas the old name had revealed only one principle of faith. The church, in turn, became known as the Free Baptist Church of Oneonta. Another name change resulted from the overal organization of Free Baptists unifying with other Baptists. The church decided the Free Baptist Church of Oneonta should merge with the regular Baptist churches. This action was adopted in December of 1919 and the church became known as the Main Street Baptist Church.
For some time the church was affiliated with the American Baptist Convention; but, in 1951, it voted to discontinue that relationship. In 1962, the church applied for membership to the Conservative Baptist Association and the New New York State Conservative Baptist Association. This affiliation has, to this day, continued to grow and strenghten. Main Street Baptist Church also belongs to the National Association of Evangelicals - fostering the church's committment to reach out to others for Christ.
Physical Plant of the Church
In October 1856, the corner of Main and Maple Streets was chosen as the site for the church's first building. Construction was started the following year, and the new church was dedicated in 1858. The entire cost of the frame building was $3,300. In 1869 the church bell, costing more than $1,000, was added to the belfry. It is still there today.
By 1889, it was time for a new building. A cornerstone ceremony for the present brick edifice was held in August 1889 and on June 11, 1890, the building was dedicated. The total cost of its construction was $12,000.
During the 1920s, several changes occurred in the church structure. Lightning destroyed the steeple spire, and the belfry was rebuilt in its present form. The building was enlarged in 1927 by the addition of the dining room, the Sunshine Room, and the Baraca (now board) Room.
The next major change in the building came in 1952 when extensive interior work was done. By flooring over the well above the Prayer Meeting Room, new second floor Sunay School rooms were added and the balcony was placed at the rear of the sanctuary.
In 1967, the parsonage was moved from its Main Street Location to 3 Maple Street, and the site was cleared for the modern addition. The ground was broken in 1969. This major addition was completed during 1970 at a total cost of over $250,000. It houses the church offices, classrooms, and Briggs Hall. The property at 3 Maple Street is now used to house our "missionaries-in-residence." Current Church property also includes the Pastor's residence at 40 Walnut Street.
Even though our church has been blessed with good facilities to conduct its programs, Main Street Baptist Church is not a building. It is a body of people working together for the glory of Jesus Christ.
Historical Note: 40 Walnut Street a Main Street Property for 40 Years
In the 1950s, Main Street had a great number of kids in its programs. Children of the baby boom were of school age and were filling our Sunday School classes and youth programs. Space was tight in the original church building during Sunday School time on Sunday mornings. In 1959, to alleviate the space crunch, the church acquired the adjoining property at 40 Walnut Street, known then as the Peaslee House. The Junior and Senior High Sunday School departments met in the house. The living room and dining room were packed with students on Sunday mornings. The bedrooms and smaller rooms were used as individual classrooms. These classes met there for the next ten years until the Christian Education wing was built in 1969-70. The house then was called Bethany House and was used as living quarters for assistant pastors and visiting missionaries. In 1979 the parsonage was moved to 40 Walnut. It was most recently the home of Pastor Gary Bonebrake and his family.