First Baptist Church
Church Map Church Photo

24 Leroy Street
Potsdam, NY 13676-1740
Church Phone-315.265.5464

A brief History

1824The First Baptist Church of Potsdam was founded in 1824 by six men and seven women.
1846Church requested help from the NYS Baptist Missionary Convention for $200 to assist in having a full time preacher. Prior to this a part time preacher had been retained at $100/year. The Church now had 60 members, 22 males and 38 females. The town of Potsdam had five churches and 4,800 people, the village had 1,100 people.
1852In this year it was voted to secure the Town Hall for meetings and the following year in 1853 the male members of the congregation became incorporated as the First Baptist Society. The following year of 1854 showed the first Sunday School being organized and the first 'chorister to lead the church music' was hired.
1857A building committee had been appointed in 1856 and in 1857 they purchased land which was part of the estate of David L. Clarkson located approxiamately where the gates of the original estate had stood. A provision in the deed in case a shed for horses was needed said, "the same shall be located on the west side of the lot and painted green colour"
1858In February of this year the church was completed and dedicated on March 4th with the pastor, Elder I. N. Hobart preaching the sermon. In September Rev. Hobart delivered a course of lectures on American Slavery leading some parishioners to threaten to withdraw support if he continued to make his lectures political.. Rev. Hobart informed them they could withdraw their support as he was capable of providing for his needs with his own hands.
1859The Colton Branch of the Potsdam Baptist Church was formed. As was often the case, finacial problems plagued the church and they sought to find a 'free' music leader to replace the current one who was being paid. They also had some problems with the choir and urged the members to recruit friends to help out. In 1863 it was noted that they had not had a Pastor for over a year, no sabbath School and only Prayer meetings on Sunday evening, attended by just a few.
1868The parsonage was built and the membership of the church was now 98. In the following year Dr. McVlear, principal of the Normal School joined the church and was quite influential in church activities for several years.
1873This year marked the end of the 'pew rental' system and thechurch changed to 'envelope' giving and a 'free seat' plan-assigned by lot. Envelopes were left in the pew and gathered by the treasurer to meet the needs of the church.
1875Rev. Charles Bascom was the pastor and served for 22 years. During the time a Sunday School room was built on the church and many forward strides were taken with the church reaching a membership of 168 in 1893.
1925The church was remodeled and redecorated inside both the church and parsonage. The outside was stuccoed and the entire plant was rededicated. It was during the period that ladies were first elected to board of deaconesses. Women's activities played a large part in the program of the church.
1926Seeing a need for Baptist girls to have a proper home atmosphere, the pastor, Rev. Howard johson made an appeal to provide a Baptist Dormitory, which Failed.
1971The church building was destroyed by fire and for a year services were held in the Presbyterian church. In mid 1972 the present property at 24 Leroy St. was purchased, also a former part of the Clarkson Estate, and is intended to be a place of community service, providing meeting space for numerous groups, as part of the church's local mission. Rev. Wm R. Cuthbert was pastor of the church from 1968 through 1997.
1997"Rev. R. Cuthbert retired as pastor and was elected Pastor Emeritus as of June 31, 1997." Rev. Sarah C. Cram was called Interim Pastor in the fall of 1997 and served until September 31st, 1998.
19981998 On October 1, 1998 Rev. Joanna Loucky-Ramsey was called as the Pastor of the First Baptist Church, Potsdam. She wishes to highlight the fact that in 1999 the church will celebrate it's 175th Anniversary of Service to Christ and the Community.

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