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History

The First Baptist Church of Richmond, Indiana was first organized in August of 1837.  After an inactive period, the church was reorganized in 1865, through the influence and efforts of Daniel and Amanda Margaret Thompson.  On March 1, 1865, the Rev. J.F. Agenbrod was appointed Missionary to this district by the American Baptist Home Mission Society.  The work began by him has gone on continuously ever since.

In 1866, the congregation purchased property on the west side of what is now North 11th Street, and in 1867, work was begun on a new building which was completed and dedicated on January 17, 1871.  That building served the congregation until the middle of the next century.

In 1947, a committee was appointed to lay plans for construction of a new building on the recently purchased site at South 16th and "A" Streets.  The Rev. W.F. Badgett was called as Pastor in February 1949, and under his leadership and that of Mr. O.M. Kendall as Building Committee Chairman, the new bulilding was completed and dedicated on May 18, 1958.  Total cost of the building and equipment was approximately $270,000.

The new building served the congregation well, but the need for expansion and enlarged parking areas was soon evident.  The only place for a fellowship room was the basement area beneath the sanctuary.  It was too small for the growing congregation, and the noise level with a low ceiling was very great.  The basement had to double for classroom space, so foldering dividers were added to house numerous Sunday school classes.

Two houses to the east of the main building were purchased, and eventually used for classroom space.  They helped ease the crowded conditions for a while until space for parking became overwhelming.  There was just a small three foot door that served as the entrance to the main building on the south side, and it became impossibly clogged at the beginning and closing of church services.

At this point, it was decided that the parsonage should be removed and more parking space added, because the only off street space for parking was beside the driveway leading to So. 16th Street that ran between the south side of the church building and the parsonage.  The Pastor and his family had to walk between the cars parked literally at their back door to get outside.  The old parsonage, located at 111 So. 16th Street and the two houses located east of the main church building were demolished for parking space.

Several adjoining properties have been purchased through the years as parking space and for other purposes.  In 1973, the Fireplace House was built and has provided space for many church functions.

The traffic flow and parking was improved, but the need for more adequate classroom space and for a large fellowship room became pressing.  Thus, in 1978 a meeting was held with some 80 church leaders to discuss the possibility of a major remodeling and building project.

After a successful fund raising campaign, and the agreement with the American Baptist Extension Corporation to lend the necessary funds to complete the project, things began with a flourish.  Ground was broken on September 10, 1978 for new construction at the east end of the original church structure.  This new unit provided approximately 10,000 square feet of space for large meal functions, recreational facilities and classrooms.  Much remodeling of the original building added office and classroom space.  The cost was about $642,000.

With the enlargement of the platform at the front of the sanctuary, purchasing property to the north of the church for more parking space, and purchasing the brick duplex to the south of the church for more classroom space, our church facilities are complete.  There is a need for further expansion and updating and a Facilities Assessment Committee has been working on a recommendation that will be made to the church.

A new building project was approved in September, 2001, for remodeling to be completed by Myler Church Building Systems with the following objectives:
  • Make First Baptist accessible to all by leveling the parking lot grade and adding an elevator.
  • Build a drive-through canopy/drop-off, a new entrance and vestibule, and enlarge restrooms.
  • Enlarge our current foyer into a gathering area, complete with a welcome center, kitchenette, and library.
  • Remodel and refit the lower level of our current Sanctuary building.
  • New and refitted heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems for our current facilities.
  • Make all the current facilities more inviting, address the carpet and interior decoration throughout.
With the help of local contractors, we did the following:
  • Remodeled the Powers House into a Youth Center, and the north apartment was fitted for visiting personnel such as missionaries, etc.
  • Tore down the Wagner House for additional parking and a new entrance to the property.
  • Tore down the old garage and replaced it with a new one to store vans, yard equipment and a work area for the custodian and trustees.
  • Converted the Fireplace House into an office complex.
  • Remodeled and refitted the fellowship hall/gymnasium and kitchen.
The Church Dedication/Open House for the above was November 17, 2002.

Our former pastor, the Rev. Phillip Hodgkin, who came to use in January 1967, served for over 30 years, retired in June 1997.

The Rev. Raymond Bunn joined our staff in August 1987 as Minister of Discipleship and Training.  He was called to Pastor at First Baptist, Mitchell, Indiana in July, 1997.  He is now pastor in Boykins, VA. near his family.

The Rev. Robert Hendrix joined our church staff in January 1989 as Minister of Youth and Recreation.  In 1995 he also assumed the position of Minister of Christian Education.  He resigned in October 1999.

Rex Bailey came to us as Minister of Music in July 1995 following the retirement of Rev. Roy Schofield.  He has displayed many gifts in the field of music, and his enthusiasm for his work has been contagious throughout the music department.

Our Pastor, Jim Spon, was called as Senior Pastor in August 1998.  He is a gifted pastor and Bible preacher/teacher.

Rev. Michelle Thompson was called January, 2000, as Associate Pastor of Christian Ed. and Family Life.  She left August 30, 2001, and became part of the ABC Regional Staff.

Don Williams began as part-time Youth & Young Adult Minister in September 2003, and left to serve in Virginia as a pastor.

The church is affiliated with American Baptist Churches, USA and Indiana/KY.  We have always been and continue to be a church with a strong vision for Christ's mission both at home and around the world.  It is significant that our church has been among the leaders of the ABC in mission giving.