In 1830, a group within the congregation of the Ontario and Penfield Baptist Church had grown large enough to form their own independent church. They named this church the North Penfield Baptist Church. A frame building was built in 1832 at 59 South Ave. in which services were to be held. In 1946, the church was renamed the Webster Baptist Church. The present day church building made of cobblestone and fieldstone was built during the 1855 and 1856. It was dedicated on January 1, 1857. Over the years a number of updates and renovations have taken place to the church building. One interesting addition was the Chapin Organ, an Aeolian pipe organ donated to the church by the children of William.W. and Elizabeth Chapin of Rochester, NY in 1938. The organ was donated in the memory of their parents. Built in 1917, the organ was the personal organ of the Chapin family. The organ was rebuilt for the Webster Baptist Church by the Kohl Organ Co. of Rochester NY and dedicated on November 20, 1938.
Over the years, the Webster Baptist church has remained an active church and in 1970, the Philathea class was started as an international, interdenominational organization of Bible classes for young women. The class included Sunday School as well as other activities to help young women strengthen their relationship with the church through Bible study and evangelism.
As part of the church’s commitment to community outreach and in conjunction with the Webster Council of Churches, a temporary housing apartment located at the Webster Baptist Church was opened in 1974. This apartment was meant to assist those in need of temporary shelter and to help them get back on their feet. It was called Tempo. In 1991, Tempo was dissolved by the Council of Churches. However, the Webster Baptist Church recognized a need for temporary housing in the community and decided to maintain the apartment. The two-bedroom furnished apartment allowed a family in need to stay for up to three months, although the lease could be extended for a second three-month period if needed. A small rental fee was charged on a sliding scale if the tenant could afford to pay. Eventually the Webster Baptist Church closed the apartment, although the church continued to support those in need in a variety of ways.
In 1974, the Fellowship Hall was painted by Pastor Daniel Chesbro. He choose as the theme, Creation Universe. Tom Lauroesch painted the ceiling, titled Heaven with Christmas Time stars.
In the mid 1970’s, three clock enthusiasts began thinking about the possibility of working on and installing a clock tower. Tom Lauroesch, a member of the Webster
Baptist Church, approached the church with the idea. Guy Aydlett had acquired a clock from the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors The clock originally came from a Presbyterian Church in Liverpool, NY. It has been loaned to the Webster Baptist Church indefinitely until its use was no longer needed. With the church’s permission, Guy Aydlett of Penfield, Tom Lauroesch of Webster and Bob Fess of Irondequoit began the work of refurbishing the clock. First the clock mechanism needed to be disassembled, cleaned and painted. Next the clock faces needed to be designed and constructed. Over 300 pieces were made for the numerals and minute marks. The three men designed and installed all the necessary parts to operate the clock faces, gears and linkage. The work was completed in 1983. On June 5, 1983 the the tower clock was dedicated in memory of Shirley Lauroesch, wife of Tom Lauroesch.
In 1980, the Baptist church celebrated its 150th anniversary. A Homecoming Weekend was held in September and at that time the church honored members who had been with the church for 50 years or more. Those honored included Grace Kofahl, Robert Harris, William and Nan Pellett and Eleanor Richmond. In addition to numerous celebratory events, Anne Musser (music professor from Roberts Wesleyan College) performed an organ recital on the Chapin organ. The Roberts Wesleyan College brass quartet also performed. After the concert, a chicken barbecue was served in the church parking lot. A local string band, The Lakedale Irregulars, performed during the dinner. After the Sunday morning worship, a reception and open house were held. To commemorate the 150th anniversary, church members built a special float for the Diamond Village Day parade. It was a replica of the Webster Baptist Church complete with church members dressed as early church founders. The float was named the winner of Most Original Float.
Jansje Dinkeloo Carey, wife of Pastor Edward I. Carey, died after a long illness in August of 1985. Jansje had been a member of the Webster Baptist Church from 1979-1985. She was also the Dean of Students and Director of Field Education at Colgate Rochester Crozier Divinity School. The church established a memorial scholarship in her name for a divinity school senior. The scholarship recognizes pastoral excellence and pays the tuition for the student’s senior year. In 1985, the meeting room in the education wing was also dedicated to her memory.
The Webster Baptist Church was awarded landmark status on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991. The church building is the largest cobblestone building in the United States that has been in continuous use for its original purpose. It was the first building in Webster to receive this honor. The plaque outside the building reads:
WEBSTER BAPTIST CHURCH
ORGANIZED – 1830 BUILT – 1857
MEMORIAL WINDOWS – 1902
EDUCATION WING – 1957
TOWER CLOCK – 1983
NATIONAL LANDMARK – 1991
In 1994, The Golden Oldies group was established, a group that helps maintain and care for the building and provides service to the church community. They continue to meet regularly for breakfast, fellowship and to service to the church.
In 1996, the church congregation began a Capital Fund Drive to restore the cobblestone exterior of the church. The church applied for and received matching funds from New York State Sacred Sites Conservatory. Bruce Midkiff, a master cobblestone mason, completed the restoration project in 1997.
A capital fund drive for building improvements was started in 2000. Gordon and Jeanne Allen donated $10,000 for the refurbishing of Fellowship Hall.
The Webster Baptist Church celebrated its 175th anniversary in 2005. Many events throughout the year commemorated this anniversary. The new baptistery was rededicated, new hymnals were purchased, there were youth concerts and a centennial organ concert with Matt Curlee the organist from St Joseph’s in Penfield performing. Church members painted the Education wing. On August 13th, several members of the church dressed in period costumes and represented various Webster residents whose names are etched on the stained- glass windows in the church. The stained-glass windows were installed in 1902 and are dedicated to former Webster residents, not all of whom were church members. A presentation about the historical windows and persons represented was part of the day’s celebration. Rev. John Phillips was played by Nick Haldoupis, Nelson Holt was played by John Clap,; Ruth Curtice wife of Luther Curtice was played by Lucille Howk, Catherine Horton Dayton wife of Eli Dayton was played by Jeanne Allen, Rev. George Alton Beers was played by Kevin McLymond, the great-grandson of Rev. Beers, Rev. John Taylor Seeley was played by Mark Fenton, Elmina G Curtice was played by Pauline Novick, Mehetable C Mason was played by Marge Fenton, Elizabeth Reynolds wife of Dr. Oliver Reynolds was played by Neva Hoffmeier and Lucinda Curtice, wife of Parker Curtice, was played by Ruth Batzing.
2007 was the 150th anniversary of the church building. Esther Dunn’s book, Webster Through the Years notes that most of the fieldstones were found by the members of the community along the shore of Lake Ontario. As part of the sesquicentennial, the church participated in the Webster Fireman’s parade with a float of a replica of the Baptist Church building.
In 2008, a bell tower repair fundraiser was initiated. The bell tower is part of the original building. When the Civil War ended, its ringing cracked the bell. The tower was reinforced to ensure the the integrity of the structure. It was found that the bell could no longer be safely rung. However, on April 15, 2015 at 3:15 pm Pauline Novick and Jonathan Bernard, dressed in period costume, commemorated the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War by ringing the bell one more time.
In 2010, the Fellowship Hall was renovated in honor of Todd Allen’s parents Gordon and Jeanne, longtime active members of the Webster Baptist Church.
Music has always been an important part of the activities at the Webster Baptist Church. For 40 years, Sylvia Chambers was the music director. She retired in June 2017.
Sylvia began her tenure with the church in 1977. A special celebration was held in her honor at her retirement.
In 2015, Pastor Michael Ware took a sabbatical to embark on a mission to South Africa. A grant helped to pay for a substitute pastor during his absence. While Rev. Ware was gone, the the Pathways to Renewal Committee Project began the work on a Vision Statement for the church. The Vision Statement reads: Seeking the love of Christ in ourselves, we share Christ’s love with our community and the world.
A new constitution was adopted in January of 2018. After much study, the composition of the governing boards of the church were changed. The Board of Trustee, responsible for the physical and financial health of the church, would now be composed of 6 members. The Board of Deacons, responsible for the spiritual health of the church, would now be composed of 5 members. In addition, there would also be a moderator, vice moderator and church clerk.
The Webster Baptist Church offers many fellowship and spiritual opportunities for its members. Many participate in social outreach ministries including: serving meals at Cameron Community Ministries; collecting food for the Webster Food Cupboard; activities at the Fairport Baptist Home; Habitat for Humanity Work Days; Wilmorite Park Project; Water for Sudan Fundraisers; Crop Walk, Council of Churches and Tsunami Relief project.
|Rev. Elder J. Corwin||1829-1932|
|Rev. Elder P. Kelsey||1833-1835|
|Rev. L. J. Reynolds||1835-1836|
|Rev. H. B. Kenyon||1836-1837|
|Rev. A. P. Mason||1837-1838|
|Rev. Jonas Woodward||1838-1843|
|Rev. A. Whitman||1843-1844|
|Rev. Elder Corwin||1844-1846|
|Rev. Ebenezer Scott||1846-1848|
|Rev. Orson Taylor||1846-1848|
|Rev. Samuel Way||1849-1852|
|Rev. S. H. Taft||1852-1854|
|Rev. Spencer F. Holt||1854-1858|
|Rev. Walter Holt||1858-1859|
|Rev. Ira Bennett||1859-1861|
|Rev. E. Savage||1861-1862|
|Rev. S. D. Merrick||1862-1866|
|Rev. Alfred Wells||1866-1868|
|Rev. E. F. Maine||1868-1871|
|Rev. J. W. Ford||1872-1873|
|Rev. Ebenezer Edwards||1873-1876|
|Rev. S. Schoel [interim]||1876-1877|
|Rev. Charles Ayer||1877-1878|
|Rev. John T. Seeley||1878-1883|
|Rev. N. A. Hines||1883-1884|
|Rev. W. J. Coulston||1885-1886|
|Rev. D. D. Brown||1887-1892|
|Rev. Jonah Weaton||1892-1898|
|Rev. F. E. Warner||1898-1901|
|Rev. George A. Beers||1901-1908|
|Rev. H. Reid Miller||1909-1913|
|Rev. Clyde J. Askins||1913-1916|
|Rev. George B. Reigel||1916-1918|
|Rev. Charles H. Colegrove||1918-1921|
|Rev. Harold Husted||1922-1924|
|Rev. Gerald Watkins||1924-1927|
|Rev. Kenneth Clark||1927-1928|
|Rev. Walter O. Mackowsky||1929-1932|
|Rev. Frank L. Wasser||1932-1933|
|Rev. Earl Cunningham||1933-1935|
|Rev. Bernard Schehl||1935-1948|
|Rev. Lee Howe||1949-1959|
|Rev. John Adamczyk||1959-1967|
|Rev. Charles J. Griffith||1967-1973|
|Rev. Daniel A. Chesbro||1973-1978|
|Rev. Thomas Richards [interim]||1978-1979|
|Rev. Edward I Carey||1979-1987|
|Rev. Kenric Prescott [interim]||1987-1988|
|Rev. Richard Brown||1988-1989|
|Rev. Leardrew Johnson [interim]||1989|
|Rev. John Lake||1989-2001|
|Rev. William Herzog [interim]||2001-2003|
|Rev. Dr. Keith Harrington||2003-2005|
|Rev. Willie J. Seals [interim]||2005-2006|
|Rev. Angel Sullivan [interim]||2006|
|Rev. Michael Ware||2006-2018|
|Rev. Dr. David Spiegel||2020-|
- Dunn, Esther, Webster Through the Years , Webster, NY, Webster Town Board, 1971 pg 76-79.
- Rochester Genealogy Society, Church Records Preservation Committee, Webster Baptist Church Timeline, May 2017 http://www.crpc.nyrgs.org/
- Novick, Pauline, Webster Baptist Church Historian, March, 2018
- Webster Baptist Church, April 2018, http://www.wbcus.org/
- Webster Museum, March, 2018 http://www.webstermuseum.org/websterbaptist.php
- Webster Church box, Webster Baptist Church folder, Webster Historian office, Webster Museum.
- Historic Marker Database, Webster Baptist Church, January, 2018, https://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=113467&Result=1
- Gordon Conwell Resource, Baraca Philathea, 2015, http://www.gordonconwell.edu/ockenga/baraca-philathea/index.cfm
- “To Observe 114th Anniversary”, Webster Herald, Webster, NY, November 10, 1944 p 8.
- “Special Webster Note for Bicentennial” Webster Herald, Webster, NY, August 4, 1976 p17.
- “Baptist church honors longtime members”, Webster Herald, Webster, NY, September 10, 1980.
- “Webster Baptists Celebration set this weekend”, Webster Herald, Webster, NY, September 17, 1980.
- Batzing, Dick. “From the Desk . . . Landmark tour”, Webster Herald, Webster, NY, May 30, 1990.
- “National Register honor tops Baptist church year”, Webster Herald, Webster, NY, January 29, 1992, p 9.
- Sorenson, Mike, “Baptist Church carries on Apartment Ministry tradition”, Webster Herald, Webster, NY, September 6, 2000, p 1.
- “Around Town – Pastoral excellence”, Webster Herald, Webster, NY, April 10, 2002, p6.
- Metz, Ann, “Webster Baptist brings history to life”, the Webster Herald, Webster, NY, August 3, 2005, p 4.
- “Baptist Church marks 175th anniversary”, Webster, Herald, Webster, NY, August 3, 2005, p1.
- “Centennial Pipe Organ Concert”, Webster Herald, Webster, NY, August 31, 2005, p 17.
- Klem, Carol, “Cobblestone church is Preservation Site of Month, Webster Herald, Webster, NY p10.
- “Webster Baptist Church Organ Concert to feature famed Chapin Pipe Organ” Webster Herald, Webster, NY, October 11, 2017, p 15.