The First Baptist Church of Tewksbury has a rich history that begins in 1842 with its formation at the center of town. In the spring of that year, Jacob Knapp, an evangelist preaching at the First Baptist Church of Lowell, so influenced several people in Tewksbury that they undertook the task of forming a Baptist church within the town. Mrs. Mehitable Twiss, a direct descendant of our own Hazel Mosher, was the driving force behind this effort. Partly due to her influence, the family of Jesse Trull also became involved, and the new church began meeting in the Trull home.
Not too much later, the congregation began meeting in the Town Hall and a Sunday School was formally established in the summer of 1842. Preparations to erect a permanent church building began almost immediately and several meetings were held throughout 1843. Plans were made and approved, and a building was completed at a cost of $2,762.63. On September 28, 1843, the new North Tewksbury Baptist Church was formerly dedicated and occupied.
Several extensive renovations were undertaken in 1867 and 1887 when the church was moved to its present site. In 1846, a parsonage was constructed on Andover Street at a cost of about $1,200. In 1946, this building was sold, and the present parsonage at 29 Fiske Street was built with the Reverend Nelson Ringsmuth its first occupant.
Worship practices have changed since the church's beginnings. Until 1869, there were two major preaching services each Sunday with each sermon lasting about 45 minutes. By 1885, this tradition had faded, and one preaching service was the rule, except on communion Sundays. The practice of infant dedication is almost taken for granted now, but it was not until 1930 that such services were held. The Reverend Elmer Loux, pastor from May 1929 to May 1934, instituted the practice of dedicating infants to God.
The Sunday School grew over the years, and in the spring of 1960 work was begun on the Parish Hall, which was completed largely through the efforts of volunteer labor. The Parish Hall consists of classrooms, a large function hall with a stage, and a complete kitchen. It houses our Sunday School and many fellowship activities take place here. The Parish Hall was dedicated and occupied in September of 1960.
Being an educational building and seeking more permanent use, the church began leasing a portion of the Parish Hall to the Hill Top Day Care Center, which has been in operation for almost 20 years.
By the 1990s, we began to face many challenges as God's people. The town of Tewksbury has changed tremendously in the past 50 years. There are now many new condominiums in town and many new faces. We are no longer a semi-rural and farming community, but a medium-sized city.
It is our sincere prayer and hope that we can meet these new challenges. There are indications that we can and hopefully we will grow both in terms of numbers as well as in our mission and identity as God's people. We hope to be able to attract and retain new people, not for our own sake, but in response to the gospel message of Christ to:
"love one another even as I have loved you."