The First Baptist Church of Arlington was organized in June 1781, becoming the 28th Baptist church in Massachusetts.
Several significant events led to the establishment of First Baptist. The men of Baptist persuasion withdrew from the First Parish Congregational and were excused from paying taxes for the payment of the minister in 1786. Some were imprisoned for refusing to pay. In due time, freedom of conscience won.
On February 3, 1817, "The Baptist Society of West Cambridge" became a legal body. A legacy from Stephen Cutter made this action possible.
Church locations included a meeting house at Massachusetts Avenue and on Brattle Street (1790). A "White Church" was built on the present site in 1828. In 1840 the Church acquired an organ and a bell, and by 1845 the congregation had grown to around 145 members. A larger gothic structure was built in 1851 but the building was destroyed by fire in 1900. The present church with its massive Gothic style was dedicated on
November 4, 1902. On December 4, 1903, Arlington Baptist Church changed its name to The First Baptist Church of Arlington. Fire struck again in 1924, destroying the organ and much of the interior. The building was fully restored and rededicated in 1926. A new wing for an added Sunday School space was built in the 1950's and in 1965 the chapel and basement were remodeled. The most recent event was the Organ Restoration, completed in 1992
Important People in the History of First Baptist Church of Arlington:
Thomas Williams, John Williams, and Stephen Robbins Jr. founded the church in the eighteenth century. They were assisted greatly by the Reverend Samuel Stillman and Captain Benjamin Locke. Locke was a parishioner who sold his home to the church for its first meeting place. A descendent of the Locke family is currently a member of the church.
Mary and Stephen Cutter were instrumental in obtaining the lot on which the church now stands and in the building of the original church.
Deacon William E. Wood served as Church organist for many years,
Caroline Higgins, a gifted and dedicated teacher, was elected the First woman Deacon in 1958. Emily Johnstone, Evelyn Davidson, Mary Dickson and Eva Brown followed in the next two years.
Length of time Ministers and other Staff have worked with First Baptist
Reverend Peter Beckwith (Interim) - beginning March 2020
Church Secretary, Mrs. Maria Klatecki - beginning November 2001
Organist: Norma Brunner
Reverend Paul L. Jackson - 24 years -Pastor Emeritus
Jack Donaldson 20 years, Willian D. Ware 6 months
A chronological listing of pastors who served First Baptist Church since 1900:
2020 to current Peter Beckwith (Interim)
2001 - 2020 Jon D. Hevelone
2001 - 2001 Mikel Satcher Ph.D. (Interim)
1997 - 2001 George H. Habel Ph.D.
1996 - 1997 Victor Scalise Jr. (Interim)
1982 - 1996 Paul L. Jackson
1980 - 1982 Victor Scalise Jr. (interim)
1970 - 1980 Joseph R. Sweeney, Ph.D.
1969 - 1970 Alexander Henderson (Interim)
1961 - 1968 William H. Marsell (Associate and Interim)
1959 - 1967 Robert Earl Slaughter, D.D.
1958 - 1959 Donald Menzel (Interim)
1955 – 1958 Francis W. Thompson, D.D.
1954 - 1955 Rollin E. Tingley (Interim)
1944 - 1954 Nathan W. Wood
1928 - 1944 Grady D. Feagan, Ph.D.
1919 - 1927 Henry S. Potter, S.T.D., D.D.
1909 - 1919 Nathan E. Wood, D.D.
1881 - 1909 Charles H. Waston, D.D.