The Birth of First Baptist Church of Wyoming
First Baptist Church of Wyoming was founded in 1810 with seventeen members, thus becoming one of the earliest churches in the county.
In the frontier community where neighbors were miles apart, there were at first no religious societies. The settlers had to face the stern realities of life without the benefit of spiritual comfort.
It was to these isolated families that traveling missionaries came holding family services with a family or two at a time. It was the coming of one such missionary that resulted in the organization of the First Baptist Church of Middlebury, (now changed to Wyoming).
Though the early churches were stern and uncompromising in their doctrines, they were the center of the social life of the community, and exerted a tremendous influence upon the citizens. Because there was little money with which to build a church building, services were held in various homes.
Because of limited membership during the first few years, they did not attempt to build a church. However, in 1817, in cooperation with other members of the town, especially members of the West Middlebury Baptist Church, they organized a school board and erected the Middlebury Academy. The building they built was of brick, capable of containing 200 students. (The students were boarded in homes in the village.)
It is interesting to consider why in a frontier area, they had attempted such a program, but I think that we can understand their motives. Western New York was an expanding area, and they knew that if their children were to be capable of meeting the developing economic and cultural growth of the area, they must be better educated.
Not only was a secular education necessary to meet the economic growth of the area, but if the gospel was to be furthered in this growing region, there must also be individuals who would go out as gospel messengers and they too must have a medium of education. While the Academy was not a religious school primarily, the Bible was read and prayers offered every day. They were the fundamental underpinning of the school.
From 1818 when the Academy was built, until 1830 the date of the construction of their church building, the Baptists held their services on Sunday in the Academy. They held their services in the morning and the Presbyterians in the afternoon.
For many years, the Principal of the Academy was the minister of the Wyoming Baptist Church. At the time of the so called Morgan affair, when the order of the Masons caused the disappearance of Mr. Morgan, the church at Wyoming pronounced the edict that a Mason could not be a member of the church. The minister at that time, would not relinquish his membership in the Masonic order and left the church.
A study has shown that six college presidents graduated from the Academy, at least two U.S. Senators are counted among its students as well as innumerable teachers, ministers, doctors, writers, etc. The story of the Academy cannot be told apart from the story of the Wyoming Baptist Church.
At the time of the organization of the church, there was an area church fellowship which eventually enlarged into the Northern Baptist Convention. The Wyoming church withdrew from it several years ago. While it has membership in the Empire State Fellowship (now the Northeast Fellowship), in the larger dimension it is an independent church.
It must be added that the original church burned in 1875 and by 1879 the present building was erected.
In 1988 an addition was made to the building which provided more class rooms, a kitchen, bigger nursery, bathrooms and a full sized gymnasium.
In 2000 another addition was added for more classrooms, youth room, storage, office and two pastoral study’s.
In 2011 a large outdoor pavilion was constructed out back of the church in our recreation area.
Pastor Benjamin Campbell was voted in as the Lead Pastor in October of 2019. The same earnest desire to reach out to the people of the community that motivated the establishment of the Academy, has been the strong zeal of the church for its 200 plus years of service in the name of the Lord!