The Rich History of First Baptist Church
A rich history of First Baptist Church Vincennes has been maintained throughout the years. There are many artifacts, and robust stories of times past.
The First Baptist Church in Vincennes was founded through the efforts of Mrs. Mary Klapp Heberd and four of her friends who were the only Baptists in Vincennes in 1861. Mrs. Heberd attended the Union Baptist Association meeting that year in Sullivan on August 20, appealing for someone to help start a Baptist church in Vincennes. On May 13, 1862, the first organizational meeting of the First Baptist Church of Vincennes met at Elder John Gillespie’s home on Sixth Street. The little congregation then met in the City Hall at Fourth and Main Streets.
Funds were donated, land secured and the first church building was dedicated on May 6, 1864 at the corner of Fifth and Broadway streets. A “new” church building, referred to as the superstructure, was dedicated on April 25, 1915. There is a replica of this building among the historical artifacts of our church. This building is still in use today and is the home of the Old Town Player’s Theatre.
Over the years, the congregation grew, pastors were hired and many committees were formed. In 1990, a long range planning committee was formed to survey the needs of the church. In 1991, after this work was complete, the results were turned over to a church expansion committee. In 1992, a plan was presented, a vote taken and the decision was made to purchase 10 acres at Highway 61 and Highway 41. The new church building was dedicated on November 26, 1995. The building at 2625 Wabash Ave. served the congregation well for over twenty years. Because of growth in attendance and with expansion in ministry focus, construction on an addition of children’s, youth and office space, and renovation of existing space to accommodate small children and adults began in October 2014.
An integral part of the ministry of First Baptist Church throughout our history has been music of all kinds. From specialized choirs to hand-bell choirs to instrumentation and cantatas, and theatrical productions; worship and worship arts—from drama to dance can be traced far back in our history. The Sunday morning worship time evolved into two blended services beginning in January 2019. Each service offers traditional and contemporary elements.
The Leadership of First Baptist Church has evolved and grown over the years. Currently our congregation is led by a total of five boards that interact to accomplish ministry to the congregation, those in our community, in our nation and throughout the world. Our Council, made up of the past, current and vice chairs of each board, our moderator, clerk, treasurer and assistant treasurer, serves as our highest leadership board. Our Diaconate Board oversees the ministry of the church. The Trustees oversee our finances, our buildings and our grounds. Our Christian Education Board oversees educational opportunities for all ages. The Mission Board raises awareness of missions we support oversees and how the mission funds are distributed.