The First Baptist Church of Waterville was founded on August 27, 1818 by Jeremiah Chaplin. He had come to town to establish the Maine Literary and Theological Institution, now Colby College. Gathering the few Baptist families then in Waterville, augmented by ten members transferred from the Sidney Church, Chaplin formally organized the Waterville Church. He and his colleague Stephen Chapin served as part-time ministers until the election of a full time pastor, Harvey Fittz, in 1829. For many years, this church was closely connected with Colby, which held every annual commencement and baccalaureate service here from 1827 to 1919. The church also has a long history of association with missionary activity. George Dana Boardman, the first Baptist missionary to Burma, was baptized and licensed to preach here and Dr. Adoniram Judson also spoke here upon his return from India in 1846


     From the beginning the small group was determined to have their own house of worship rather than depend upon the use of the town meetinghouse or the schoolhouse on the common. In order to make a building financially feasible, they formed a corporate society, which sold pews to any who would buy, regardless of religious affiliation. Every purchaser became a member of the society, so the early owners of this building were Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Universalists, and Methodists, as well as Baptists. The structure was erected in 1826, and, as the oldest public building in Waterville, still stands on its original foundations. Dedicated December 6, 1826, the building cost $3,856, plus $100 and a free pew paid to a Skowhegan man who quarried and shaped the stone and laid the foundation. Prices of pews ranged from $35 in the balcony, to $150 for the choicest seats on the main floor. The minister spoke from a pulpit so high that his head was on a level with the floor of the balcony.

     The first major alterations came in 1851. The old box pews lost their swinging doors and the front seats, on which people had sat "back to" the minister. Blinds were placed on the windows, and the interior was fully painted for

the first time. More complete renovations came in 1875 at the cost of $17,000. Long modernpews replaced the old box type; the pulpit was lowered; the window behind the pulpit were blocked up; the tower was reshaped and a porch was added. Rev. George Dana Boardman Pepper preached the rededication sermon. Rev. Pepper was the only man since Jeremiah Chaplin to serve both as pastor of the church and President of Colby College, though he did so at different times.

     Originally baptisms were performed in the Messalonskee Stream or the Kennebec River. In 1871 came the first inside baptistery and the present Morse baptistery dates from 1926.

     Unti11869, when central heating was installed, the building was heated by stoves, so inadequate that many worshipers used soapstone foot warmers.  In 2000 a state of the art heating system replaced the one that had served for over a hundred years.

     In 1951, at a cost of more than $60,000.(17 times the original cost) the sanctuary was completely renovated to include a lectern as well as a pulpit. Many visitors today comment on the well maintained, attractive and inspiring worship space.  


     At first there was no instrumental music, but by 1850 the church had installed a small reed organ. The first pipe organ, pumped by hand, appeared in 1893. It was replaced in 1926 by the large Purinton organ, which in 1958 was completely rebuilt and placed in the balcony.

Through a generous bequest of a church member, the organ was again refurbished in 2002. It has been lifted from its 'pit' and can now be moved into the middle of the sanctuary to allow visibility of the movement of the hands and feet of the organist. Each Lenten season the church hosts organists from the area for a series of noon concerts, which are open to the public. 


     The church identifies with the Kennebec Baptist Association, the Baptist World Alliance and the American Baptist Churches of Maine and the USA. Pastors over the years have included some of the best known clergy of the denomination.


Jeremiah Chaplin


Stephen Chaplin


Harvey Fittz


Henry Green


Samuel Francis Smith


David N. Sheldon


John C. Stockbridge


William Crowell


N. Milton Wood


George B. D. Pepper


Benjamin F. Shaw


Henry Burrage


Samuel P. Merrill


William H. Spencer


Edwin H. Whittemore


Arthur S. Phelps


Walter Quarrrington


Leopold Hass


John W. Brush


Robert H. Beaven


CliftonH. Walcott


Kenneth L. Garrison


Richard L.Keach


Ralph W. Reynolds


Ellis J. Holt


Blair M. Benner


Harry C. Snyder


Alvin R. Cooper


Jas Hamilton-Ogden


StanleyA. Wheeler


Patricia A. Parker


Gregory Thomas


Alan Shumway


Russell D. LaFlamme





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