The first hope of Baptist interest of Marlboro came about through Father Fitts of the State Missionary Society. Father Fitts visiting Fayville by mistake on his way to Northborough, found himself stranded as his train went on and left him. As he asked community members if a Baptist Church could not be started there. One person replied, “Yes, there ought to have been one there long ago.” Ten members of the Fayville Baptist Church, residing in Marlboro, became the nucleus of our organization, and Fayville Baptist Church became our Mother Church. The other Baptist he could find gathered weekly to hold prayer meetings from house to house.
It’s April 14, 1868, sometime after 7:30 pm – “A meeting called for the purpose of organizing ourselves into a church at the house of Bro. Winslow D. Walker, Main Street, West Village…” “Resolved that we the undersigned do hereby enter into a solemn compact for the formation of a church to be known as Baptist Church of Marlboro. Moved and 2nd that we accept the resolution and that we resolve ourselves into a church. The motion was carried and those having letters allowed to sign.”
The First Baptist Church of Marlboro, Mass., came into being with 19 constituted members. Born of faith, conviction, love and devotion, it has lived and will continue to do so by the exercise of a like faith, conviction, love and devotion.
The first baptism was administered to three candidates in Lake Williams on July 5, 1868. The first communion was observed on August 2, 1868. In early 1869, the church members, backed by friends and the Baptist State Convention, purchased the Town Hall and moved it across the street to remodeled it and use it as its home. After great deliberation final choice of the present spot and a plan to erect a new building was decided. The building was erected, and the first service was on May 20, 1888, with increasing interest and growing numbers. Everything was completed and the building dedicated on Dec 4, 1889.
“It is a monument to the united effort of pastor and church, generously supported by the aid of friends in the city and out of the city and generous support from the Baptist State Convention.”
It was said that the task of the church these past years is still our task: “To go into all the world and preach the gospel;” the gospel message of faith – when many are faithless; of hope – when many are discouraged; of love – when present day collectivism cries, hate!”
The church had a strong focus on missions with impacts in prison ministry, France, Japan, Burma, India, and Korea. Other emphases were in evangelism as well as training young people in prayer, testimony and Christian leadership. In 1911 the church became very successful in gathering many young men, heads of families, and whole families into our membership.
This growth was halted by the call to war with the then current pastor being called to serve as an army chaplain. The Victory Bell was purchased and later dedicated April 22, 1919. 67 names of boys and girls in service in the World War were engraved on the bell.
After the war a new pastorate was marked with the development of large groups of young people and new members in the church. 178 were taken into the church, 127 of them by baptisms.
During these years and after various renovation or addition projects were completed. In 1938 the entire city was ravaged by a hurricane including the testing of our church building. While the steeples and roofs of other churches were in ruins our church suffered very little. With this blessing FBC even allowed the Congregational parish to use our church until theirs was repaired.
At the church’s 90th celebration it was written, “Our membership is 350 resident members and 66 non-resident members. In all ninety years, it is safe to say that over 3,000 persons have come under the influence of the church as members.”
The church continued to grow with increased members, bible classes and even more renovations to the building to reach and disciple more people. The sanctuary had a major renovation in 1959 and FBC dedicated it on 1960. By 1960 the church had 414 members with many serving and volunteering at the church and in the community. Soon the church would grow to a peak of over 500 members with an average attendance of 400.
On April 14, 1968, the church celebrated it’s 100th Anniversary. The following years were met with great highs and some lows. Pastoral changes, new ministries, new initiatives in the community brought challenges and advances for God’s kingdom. In 1988 FBC began renting space to a Brazilian Church plant and collaborative effort that has continued through several others into today. As the times went on the church began to fall into decline but would be redirected with help from American Baptist Denomination partners, new leaders, and innovative changes such as outdoor music events, a float in the annual Labor Day parade, mommy & kids events, and broadcasting the service on television.
In 1992, FBC celebrated 125 years and continued to faithfully persevere even amidst financial changes and a declining congregation. For those still there, the gospel needed to continue and FBC would still make a difference. The leadership ran with the vision and motto of “125 Alive and Growing in Christ.” The next years would continue to see a decline but still a strong perseverance to be faithful and kingdom focused. Other churches were offered space on different nights so that a more robust representation of Marlborough’s community would be reached. Soon FBC and space-sharing churches would serve in projects together and even worship together. This continued until the struggles of Covid and church closures.
As the church had just an interim pastor, covid restrictions kept people away from gathering in 2020 and with only a small handful of people, FBC began looking for help as they had in the past to turn the tide.
Once connecting with the Southern Baptist Convention & now Baptist Churches of New England help became possible. FBC dually affiliated with the BCNE & SBC in June of 2021. During this time the BCNE connected them with a pastor & church planter in Marlboro. Hope Community Church was a 4-year-old plant considering shifts that needed to be made post-covid. After meeting and sharing our stories, a unique bond began to develop. The two churches planned some joint services as Hope’s Pastor would come guest preach. Soon conversations of a possible merger began. Clearly the Holy Spirit was working, and fresh life was breathed in minds of everyone for a better future.
In September of 2021 FBC called the pastor of Hope Community and in October Hope Community officially merged with FBC to begin a new process of revitalization. The merger began with two baptisms and the entire Hope Congregations becoming members of First Baptist. Since then, we have embarked on the revitalization journey with new leaders, new trainings, new Bible studies, new kids’ classes, new organizational structures, cleanouts, and some renovation projects. In February of 2022 we began a new painting and small renovation project in our sanctuary with a summer full of building and community projects planned.
One of our church historians wrote, “your mission is by no means ended. There is the same need today of faithful soldiers to hold up and carry forward the banner of the crucified Redeemer, as when you banded together years ago. According to the measure of your heart, loyalty to Christ in the future, will be the measure of our prosperity as a church, this day is an encouraging epoch in your history. Let us feel that God is calling us to take a new, fresh, vigorous start in His service. As we take up the work of the Master, determined to push energetically forward, let us remember; that we must place our faith and trust, not in our own sword, nor in our own arm or strength but in the right hand and arm and favoring light of the countenance of The Lord our God.”