From: “Glimpses into the History of the First Baptist Church in Hope Valley”, the church was organized in December of 1841 and known as the Second Baptist Church of Hopkinton. Under the leadership of the Reverend David Avery, the church met in the school building until the spring of 1845 when the new church building was dedicated. When the matter of holding property became an issue, the Second Baptist Society of Hopkinton was organized, consisting of males only, to handle matters of finance and other business of the church such as “supplying the desk” (pulpit).
Thus, two sets of records are in existence; one, giving the business of the church and the reports of the various organizations connected to the church; the other records of the Society with their business of finance, pulpit supply and general policy. In January 1893, by act of the General Assembly of Rhode Island, The Second Baptist Society became the First Baptist Society in Hope Valley and women were admitted to membership. In 1931 the Second Baptist Church of Hopkinton and the First Baptist Society in Hope Valley merged and assumed the current name of First Baptist Church in Hope Valley.
Early records noted that the Society purchased land for a church and cemetery and later in the year appointed a committee to purchase a hearse (to be paid for by subscription). The cemetery project proved to be too much for the church and in 1860 a group of lot holders privately formed what became the Pine Grove Cemetery Corporation.
Back in these early years of the church the Covenant was strictly adhered to. There are many incidences reported of committee visits to wayward members or calls before the membership to justify their actions. If the membership did not approve, the right hand of fellowship was taken away. One Malcom Tefft justified not attending to his church duties because “some of the members of the church had done him wrong.” Moral actions were monitored as well. In the case of one Sister Polluck, when she testified to the innocence of self and daughter, “members were satisfied and committee dismissed.”
Also of note, in 1849 during the pastorate of Reverend Samuel Bailey, 204 new members were baptized. In April of 1861 it was voted to give a $25 reward for information as to persons maliciously breaking windows in the meeting house.
The Sunday school, called the Second Baptist Sunday School in Hopkinton, was organized in August of 1868. Its object was to promote the knowledge of the Word of God. “The door to our Sunday school is the door to our church.”
A bit of trivia from a covenant meeting held July 16, 1881: a letter was received from a group of brothers and sisters of the village of Arcadia requesting that the church send the pastor and one delegate to sit with them as advisors in council for the consideration of forming a church in that place. Our members gladly helped and a new church was formed.
According to the minutes of May 9, 1975 an interesting item of note is that a time capsule was buried by the 5th and 6th grade classes. It is to lie in its resting place for 50 years.
Matters of FinanceAt a meeting in September of 1851 it was voted to have subscription papers circulated to pay for building a shed. The carriage sheds were then built on the west and north (back) of the church building and were ready for use in 1852.
In spite of the difficulties of raising money to meet its needs, the people succeeded in constructing a sizable church building and enlarged it three times. In 1867 the sanctuary was enlarged at a cost of $3,000. In 1880 an addition to house the organ and to make room for an infant classroom cost $1,000. In 1892 the stairs were repaired and the vestibule constructed at a cost of $797. In 1882 the members had a parsonage built at a cost of $2,500 and a housewarming was held in September of 1884.
Previous to 1880 a reed organ was located between the two rear exit doors and the congregation turned to face the choir and organ when hymns were sung. The first pipe organ was presented to the church in the year of 1880 by Gardner Nichols. This organ was replaced in 1916 by the present one at a cost of $1,835.00 of which $774.00 was paid by the Carnegie Foundation.
The young church seemed to be always in debt! Subscription papers were continually in circulation for the expenses of the church until 1881 when the envelope system of giving was introduced. This solved a great many problems. An interesting “tidbit” in the records of the Society in the late 1800s was the matter of the furnace—could it be repaired or should a new one be purchased? After several meetings, the president appointed a committee to look into this matter. When a report from this committee was requested, it was noted that there was no committee needed—the ladies had taken over and a new furnace had already been installed. As often happens, the ladies of the church had been more than ready to bear their full share of the financial burden.
In 1955 the Nichols Fund was established by the generosity of Mary Elizabeth Nichols who left a portion of her property and estate to the Ladies Benevolent Society for relief work in the church and community. This ongoing work has been carried out by a committee to the satisfaction of the church and the benefit of many in need in the church and community.
In the 1960s, with Rev. Richard Strong as leader, it was decided to enlarge the church once again with the addition of an educational wing of two floors. A campaign was started to raise the money and in March of 1972 the new wing was dedicated. On September 13, 1981, after two successful campaigns, the debt was paid and the mortgage burned.
In 1986 the sanctuary was completely renovated by all volunteer help. It was sheet-rocked, and painted. The floor was leveled to eliminate step-up pews. Pew cushions were added and new carpet installed. Also, new stairs were constructed to the balcony. A rail was added to the balcony and carpet was laid.
By 1991 it became clear that our 76 year old organ needed major work. An organ committee was formed to explore the cost of such a restoration and an organ fund campaign was started. The restoration was completed in 1994 with a dedication and recital held on May 15 of that year.
A new steeple was dedicated on October 4, 1992. The original steeple, placed atop the church when it was built in 1845, was toppled by the 1938 hurricane. The new construction was completed at a cost of $4,785 and great care was taken to duplicate the original steeple, spire and weathervane.
Organizations of the ChurchIn January of 1846 the Hopkinton Female Sewing Society was organized and in 1864 was reorganized under the name of Ladies Benevolent Society. The object of the society was to aid the Second Baptist Church and Society of Hopkinton. The Ladies Benevolent Society was instrumental in raising funds for the stained glass windows that were bought and installed for $1,097.94. The society has been very active over the years putting on plays, suppers, bazaars, various sales and luncheons to raise money to furnish the parlor and kitchen and help towards completion of the upstairs educational wing. Much credit must be given to these ladies who have worked diligently over the years for the good of the church.
In March 1881 the Finding and Doing Society was organized. Its object was to promote general mission work and to cultivate a missionary spirit and knowledge among its members. In 1906 this society was called Women’s Missionary Society. Then the Women’s Mission and Civic Club was formed in 1927. This group became involved in White Cross which aids American Baptist sponsored mission work. Miss Beulah McCoy, the only member of our church to become a missionary, was appointed in 1946 as the first post war missionary to Japan. She taught at the mission school for 32 years until her retirement in 1978.
The Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor was established in 1885 and in 1894 the Junior Christian Endeavor Society was organized. In 1900 they were responsible for placing Fresh Air Children in various homes in the community. The Baptist Youth Fellowship is still active in this church raising funds for campers and other youth activities.
In 1903 a class of seven girls from the primary room formed a club called the Clover Girls. This group of girls continued together and eventually became known as the Live Wires with a motto “Alive to Every Opportunity.” This club was active in many ways to raise money for the church and it merged with the Ladies Benevolent Society in 1955.
In 1925 a men’s Bible class was formed. It grew to be the second largest in the state with nearly 200 members and was an integral part of the community.
Special ActivitiesThroughout the years various kinds of entertainment have been sponsored in the form of plays, cantatas, exhibits and music festivals. In January of 1898 an art exhibit was held in the church with musical entertainment in the evening sponsored by the Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor.
May 1894 saw “Midsummer Night’s Dream” presented in Chase Hall by the Finding and Doing (Home Mission) Society.
In 1932 “A Night of Fun,” held in the Strand Theatre, was sponsored by the church. At this event, “The Tom Thumb Wedding” was performed under the direction of Mr. and Mrs. James Haley and Annie D. Greene.
June 1936 brought “The First Commandment” staged in the church auditorium with a large cast from the church member-ship. The “Passion Play,” under the direction of Gardner Nichols was also presented here.
The 150th anniversary of First Baptist Church was celebrated in 1991. On September 7th of that year an old time church social was held with box lunches, a bike and dolls parade, games and music. The celebration concluded with a church service on Sunday, December 1, 1991. Special events that day included a historical skit by the children and reading of proclamations. A closing tea was held in the fellowship hall following the service.
Music plays an important role in the worship and ministry of our church. In 1992 the first Summer Music Festival was held. This annual event is held in August and features a variety of music from Gospel to Blue Grass.
A Christmas Music Festival, sponsored by the Ladies Benevolent Society, has been a special Advent activity since 1995.
Cantatas are presented at Easter and Christmas, sometimes in conjunction with neighboring churches.
Today our church is a very active community center. A nursery school is housed here weekly. Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Chariho Soccer Association, Chariho Senior Citizens, Homemakers and Child Find are among the many groups using the building. The Women’s Resource Center, now located in Wakefield, had its beginning here. The hall and parlor are utilized frequently for showers, anniversaries, and other special occasions.
Historical Events 1841 Second Baptist Church in Hopkinton organized.
1844 Sabbath School started.
1845 Newly built meeting house dedicated. Second Baptist Society in Hopkinton incorporated.
1846 Hopkinton Female Sewing Society formed.
1849 Land purchased for cemetery.
1852 Carriage sheds built.
1867 Church enlarged.
1868 Sunday School organized.
1880 Pipe organ given and addition built for it.
1881 Parsonage built.
1886 Christian Endeavor organized.
1889 Stained glass windows installed.
1892 Outside steps enclosed.
1894 Junior Christian Endeavor organized.
1903 Clover Girls Class formed.
1913 Gas lighting plant installed.
1918 Electricity installed.
1953 Grand piano in sanctuary given. Memorial chimes dedicated.
1954 Nichols Endowment Fund established.
1962 Andrew’s Bulletin Board dedicated.
1963 Ruth Greene Carillon dedicated.
1975 Time capsule buried.
1976 Present communion table given.
1986 Sanctuary renovated.
1987 Stephen Ministries began.
1991 150th Anniversary celebrated.
1992 New steeple dedicated.
1994 Organ restoration completed and dedicated.
1999 A new carillon was dedicated to the memory of Ford A. Greene and Ruth Greene.Ministers of the ChurchDavid Avery 1841 to 1844
William Flint 1845
Casson. C. Lewis 1845 to 1849
Simcon Bailey 1849 to 1854
John Baker 1854 to 1856
Lucius M. Wheeler 1856 to 1857
S.R. Bailey 1858 to 1860
Charles S. Frost 1860 to 1867
Daniel Lyon 1867 to 1869
Samuel Ashley 1869 to 1870
Thomas Butler 1871
Supply Ministers 1871 to 1875
Samuel W. Field 1875 to 1877
Moses Scribner 1877 to 1879
B.G. Boardman 1880 to 1884
E.B. Haskell 1884 to 1890
J.H. Mailton 1890 to 1891
J.S. Russell 1891 to 1898*
E.I. Lindh 1898 to 1905
E.A. Bowen 1905 to 1908
W.G. Thomas 1909 to 1917
B.G. Boardman 1917 to 1919*
Harlan J. Ballentine 1919 to 1920
James Struther 1921 to 1925
Dr. Walter Parmalee 1925 to 1928
Oswald H. Rankin 1929 to 1934
Rowland A. Davenport 1935 to 1936
Jonathan Nielsen 1937 to 1940
James Kenneth Huyck 1941 to 1944
Berton D. Connerly 1945 to 1946*
Rayworth Gillies 1946 to 1948
George Strouse 1948 to 1952
Dudley L. Bowser 1953 to 1957
John A. Klindt 1958 to 1960
Richard P. Strong 1961 to 1971
Joseph Purdue 1971*
Peter B. Mahon 1971 to 1973
C. Barnard Chapman 1974
William F. Hollis, Jr. 1974 to 1990
Lewis M. Blackmer, Jr. 1990 to 1991*
Robert H. Sperry 1991 to 1997
William H. Webster 1997 to 1998*
Leigh M. Johnson 1998 to 2006
Tom Hogsten 2007 to 2007*
Jan Boyer 2007 to 2008*
Shyral Wallis 2008 to 2017 — #
Tom Wallis 2008 to — #
* Interim # co-pastors