History


The First Baptist Church of Mansfield has been the center of organized Baptist worship in town since the early years of the 19th century.

First Baptist Church of Mansfield, CT Earlier references to Mansfield Baptists are mid-18th century records of various town residents who “professed the Baptist principle, ” records of Baptist gatherings, records of a Baptist Society organized in 1767 “at the dwelling house of Ebenezer Wright living in Mansfield,” and the tombstone of Joseph Hovey (d. Oct. 28, 1785) in the Pink Cemetery inscribed “a deacon in a Baptist Church for a number of years and died in full belief of those principles.” There is also a local tradition that a Separatist church built about 1750 in Mansfield subsequently became a Baptist meeting house and that many former Separatists joined this church.

In 1807 the first church building on the site of the present First Baptist Church of Mansfield was begun, under the leadership of Rev. Joshua Bradley of Rhode Island. The Baptist Church of Spring Hill, as it was then called, was organized (i.e., recognized as a regular Baptist Church in “gospel order”) by an ecclesiastical council convened at the request of the members in Mansfield Oct. 16, 1809. The membership at this time was 42. The church voted to join the Stonington Association in 1810. Rev. Bradley served as pastor for a year while the church became established and then Rev. Jonathan Goodwin from the church in Lebanon, Connecticut was called as minister.

During its first century, the church provided ministers and missionaries to the denomination, carried out many programs in the community which are now the responsibility of the town Department of Social Services and organized a local library, in addition to an active Christian Education program. Members of the Mansfield church organized the First Baptist Church of Willimantic (1823) and the Second Baptist Church in Mansfield Depot (1907). New building included the parsonage (begun about 1841), the present church (dedicated in 1875), and the Conference Room (1895).

In more recent years the church has expanded its Christian Education program and completed a Christian Education wing in 1965, while continuing its active missions program and community outreach.

For more information on Connecticut Baptist history, please visit the ABCConn History committee web site at http://www.abcconn.org/history.html.