This collection contains the records of the First and Southside Baptist Churches of Elmira. From the First Baptist Church, it includes membership files, programs, newsletters, photographs and miscellaneous records. From the Southside Baptist Church, the collection includes programs, newsletters, photographs, newspaper clippings and miscellaneous records.
13 linear feet
Scope and Content:
The United Baptist Church Collection is broken down into several series. Series I: First Baptist Membership Files - Church membership files, 1950s-2000s, featuring genealogical information, newspaper clippings and photographs. Series II: First Baptist Church Collection – Church administrative documents, newsletters, programs, photographs and miscellaneous documents. Series III: Southside Baptist Church Collection – Church administrative documents, newsletters, programs, photographs and miscellaneous documents
Biographical / Historical:
Official recognition of First Baptist Church took place in 1829. The first church building went up in 1830 on land donated by Geoffrey Wisner. Membership grew steadily in the church and by 1847 it became necessary to build a second, larger edifice. Also in 1847, escaped slave John W. Jones came to Elmira and began his fifty years of service as Sexton for First Baptist Church. In 1892, the church spent over $70,000 on a third and final building, which still stands today. Southside Baptist Church began around 1888 when residents of the south side of Elmira opened their homes for Friday evening prayer meetings. Soon, attendance at these meetings warranted the building of a permanent church home. In 1891 the Baptist Mission Sunday School was formed and Wednesday evening prayer meetings were held in a rented store on the corner of Pennsylvania and South Avenues. Three years later Southside Baptist Church was officially organized. In 1895 the lot where the temporary church was located was bought and construction on the church building began. An addition was built in 1953 to accommodate the flourishing membership. First Baptist Church and Southside Baptist Church combined around 2011 and now form United Baptist Church.
Additional material includes the blueprints for the First Baptist Church which are stored in MP 06, Drawer 02, Folders 01-08.