One-hundred and seventy-five years ago, a charter group of twelve members sought to plant a Baptist church in Tarrytown. This dedicated core, eventually led by their first Pastor, Charles Underhill, persevered until they had a small chapel to call their own. When a religious revival swept through the area in the 1850s, the congregation experienced rapid growth under the ardent abolitionist minister, William Wines. Now numbering in the hundreds, the congregation sought a new building and raised enough money to purchase our current lot at the corner of Broadway and Elizabeth. The congregation struggled through an economic panic, finishing the grand stone edifice in 1881.
First Baptist Church faithfully bore witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ for more than a century, enduring economic depressions and world wars, even as the surrounding community grew from a rural village to a bustling suburban hub. Then, in 1989, a fire ripped through the granite cathedral. Though no lives were lost, the building was demolished. The church now stood at a crossroads. With an aging congregation and limited resources, some wondered if the church would survive. Fueled by the Holy Spirit and under the leadership of Reverend Bruce Boria, the church came back strong, restoring the building to its former grandeur. In the process, the congregation was reminded of a lesson the original twelve founding members knew well: the church is not a building, it’s the people.
Now if you visit First Baptist Church, you’ll still find the steeple that towers over the Tarrytown skyline. But inside, you’ll see a comfortable sanctuary, filled not with stiff and unyielding pews, but cozy padded chairs. The chairs are filled by a warm and diverse congregation that includes young and old alike. More than that, you’ll hear contemporary music that acknowledges the rich, legacy of Christian songs and Bible-centered preaching that blends faithful orthodoxy with a relevant application to twenty-first century life. Besides Sunday worship, you’ll have the opportunity to join home based Bible study groups and men’s and women’s groups. We have dedicated groups and classes for children and teens, too. Almost thirty years later, we remember well what the fire taught us: the church isn’t the building, it’s the people. So come be part of the living history at First Baptist.