Location *B* on Church Map of Oberlin
(Oberlin Historical and Improvement Organization)
In the 1860's it was said that there were enough people in the Oberlin Congregational Churches who were more Baptist than Congregationalist to make a fair sized Baptist Church. As a result of a series of prayer meetings a proposal was made; and on July 30, 1866 the Oberlin Baptist Church was formally recognized and 33 members accepted in the Lorain Association. There was strong opposition from the "established" Congregational Church; and the story is told that Charles Grandison Finney prayed "0 Lord, Thou knowest we don't need a Baptist Church in Oberlin, but, Lord if Thou seest it is best to have one, if Thou canst, we pray Thee to bless it". With such opposition it was difficult to find places for meeting; but in 1867 the congregation held services in an upstairs room in "Carpenter's New Block" until money was raised to build a church. Additions of a belfry, a new pipe organ that required bellows boys, a public reading room and library, and a new parsonage signified a thriving congregation. When the building was sold to Oberlin College as a site for the Art Museum, a new location across the street was chosen and the cornerstone for the present building laid Jan. 1,1916. The new electric lights and the pipe organ were transferred to the new church. In the 30's and 40's church membership dwindled, but since then it has climbed slowly and steadily. In the 1950's college student activity in the church culminated in the formation of a musical Gospel Team touring Europe while the members were attending the Conservatory at Salzburg, Austria. Several people who were at one time active participants in the Oberlin Baptist congregation are nationally recognized, among them Professor Karl Gehrkens and his wife (1908-09 organist and choir director), and Michael Barone known for his radio program "Pipedreams" (student organist 1966). The present ministers of the church are the Rev. Steve and the Rev. Mary Hammond.
Hymnals in the pews are Hymns for the Living Church. Favorite hymns of this congregation are "Hope of the world" to the tune VICAR; "Amazing Grace"; "How great Thou art"; and "What child is this".
We thank Mrs. Chesbro, Church Archivist, for this material.