OUR CHURCH HISTORY
The First Baptist Church was organized in Versailles on the third Saturday in January 1829, with eleven persons present. Services were held in the homes until May 1832 when they met in the school house until their new “meeting house” was completed in February 1838. This Church was located at the southeast corner of Adams and First Streets; it enjoyed steady growth and in 1845 had a total membership of 183. The first Sunday School was organized in 1845. Charter members in 1829 were: Thomas and Sarah Laswell, Jesse and Sarah Miles, Emeline Miles, Ann Craig, Moses and Sarah Purcell, John and Sarah Boswell, and Nancy Wooley. Mr. Dearborn taught school in the Meeting House, a three months term, in 1843. In 1844 the Presbyterians were allowed the use of the Meeting House for their services.
In 1852, the building being in need of repair, a committee was appointed to determine what should be done. The committee recommended that the building not be repaired. In February the membership voted to build a new building if subscriptions were large enough to pay for it, but the total subscriptions totaled only $800.00. In January 1862, the Church members voted to disband and to give letters to all those desiring them. Unrest from the Civil War, lack of funds, and other problems caused the Church to disband. The town of Versailles was without a Baptist Church for the next twenty years.
The original Versailles Baptist Church building shown in the photo that was as dedicated in 1883.
January 19, 1882, twelve persons gathered at the home of Reverend and Mrs. P.J. Collop for the purpose of organizing a regular Baptist Church in Versailles. They decided to meet again on March 1, 1882 for their organization. There were fifteen charter members, namely: B.F. and Malinda Spencer, Stephen and Elizabeth Chandler, Reverend P.J. and Sally Collop, Francis Smith, Mary Lloyd, Tilford and Catherine Kenan, Hannah Warman Rice, James and Carrie Rogers, Leander and Nettie Draper. The organization was with the assistance of New Marion, Posten (now Dabney) and Laughery Association Churches. It wasdecided to build a new frame Church, 34 X 50 feet and Lot No. 27 at the corner of Washington and Perry Streets was purchased for $100.00. The Church joined the Laughery Association in February 1883.
In 1883 a Sunday School and a Missionary Society were organized. The Baptist Young People’s Union, the forerunner of the B.Y.F. and the present A.B.Y., was organized in 1893, and the Junior Union in 1897. The Church was remodeled in 1921. New pews were purchased in 1923, and the dedication was held in December 1923. The first Vacation Bible School was started in 1923. In 1929 the Church celebrated one hundred years of Christian service.
In 1937, due to Church growth and the need for more educational and social rooms, the Church decided to place a basement under the building. This was completed and dedicated on June 27, 1937. The Allie B. Jackson home was given to the Church to be used as a parsonage in 1942. Prior to this, in 1938, the Versailles and Osgood Churches became a joint parish, but that merge was dissolved in 1942.
Attendance at Church and Sunday School continued to grow, and as a result it was decided in June, 1949 that an addition to the Church was needed. Rooms were added to the north side in that year. In 1957, the parsonage was remodeled, a new furnace was added and parsonage was redecorated. In 1959 the Church purchased the Beall property which adjoined the Church property on the north. The Beall house was sold in 1963, moved from the property, and the lot has been used since as a parking lot.
In 1960 a committee was appointed to study and recommend to the Church what to do about acquiring more needed space. The committee recommended that the Church be remodeled. This remodeling project was completed in 1962. The first service was held in the new sanctuary on December 23, 1962, with 294 persons present. The formal dedication was held February 24, 1963.
The church as it appeared before construction began August, 1962.
In April 1970 a decision was made to remodel and enlarge the parsonage. This was completed and the dedication service was held in December 1970.
In 1972 a new service was added to our worship services. The Agape meal depicting the Last Supper Christ shared with his disciples before his crucifixion and communion is observed by candlelight on Maundy Thursday of each year. White candles are placed in wooden crosses. The food prepared is in keeping with what might have been available in the time of Christ. No table service is used and water is the only beverage. Following the agape meal is the communion service, led by the deacons, with brother serving brother. During the early 1970’s and during the tenure of Pastor Robert Brown a new service was introduced. Under Pastor Brown’s leadership the “Hanging of the Greens” was instituted. This beautiful ceremony involves many Church members and results in beautiful decorations being placed in the Church sanctuary while explaining their significance to our Christian beliefs.
The Church now has a membership of 320 members. During the time Versailles Baptist Church was formed in 1829 to the present, 2011, the Church has been served by 47 pastors and 6 interim pastors. In January 1977 the Church congregation approved the purchase of the property on the north side of the parsonage. The property was purchased for $8,750.00 and was maintained as a rental property for a period of time. Following the demolition of the house, it has been used as a parking lot and activity area.
Versailles Baptist Church celebrated its 150th anniversary on July 15, 1979. Church members were encouraged to dress in the costumes of the 1800’s, and following the morning worship service the congregation walked the 2 1/2 blocks to the site of the original Versailles Baptist Church. A pitch-in dinner was held at noon and a short program in the afternoon. Dr. Dallas West of the Indiana Baptist Convention staff was the speaker for the program.
In December 1982 another service was added to our Church. Reverend Harold Carter and the Board of Deacons decided to implement a Christmas Eve Communion service. The service emphasizes family worship and has proven to be a popular addition to the worship service.
The McNeelan/Smith property, east of the Church, was purchased by the Church in November 1986 for $35,000.00. This property was used by the Church as an office for the Pastor, Church Secretary, Sunday School classes and meetings until 2001.
On Sunday, September 18, 1994 Versailles Baptist celebrated its 165th year of service with morning worship services followed by a hog roast in the Church parking lot. State Senator Johnny Nugent was present, spoke to those in attendance, and presented the Church with a proclamation from the State of Indiana honoring the event.
The year 2001 was a rather routine year with one major event that will impact the ministry of the Versailles Baptist Church in the future.
Construction on the Church addition began in June and was completed in December. Adams Construction was the general contractor, and through his efforts and cooperation, constructed an excellent facility that will serve the needs of the Versailles Baptist Church for many years.
Much appreciation and thanks go to the people of the church who served on the various committees, gave of their time and talents and generously gave of their resources to bring this project to completion. The addition consists of classrooms, music room, two offices, kitchen, storage room, restrooms and a large auditorium/fellowship hall. The addition added of 7,000 square feet to the existing church and allowed the expansion of programs, activities and new ministries for the Church and community.
Following the completion of the Family Life Center in 2001 the Church had the opportunity to purchase the Ellerman property located on the corner of Washington and Water Streets.The acquisition of this property will permit additional facilities as the Church continues to grow. The property was purchased at a cost of $45,000.00. The church basement remodeling project was undertaken in 2004 and under the capable leadership of Mr. Scott Bradley was finished and dedicated on June 27, 2004. The project created four classrooms, two nurseries, library, enlarged and remodeled restrooms and created additional storage space.
Several volunteers gave of their time and talents to create the very functional and beautiful facility dedicated to furthering the Lord’s work in the Versailles Community.
During the week of October 9th and 10th the congregation celebrated the 175th anniversary of the Church. Celebration activities consisted of a picnic/hog roast and former pastors Dr. Robert Brown and Richard Burcham featured as guest speakers.
In 2004 the Church started a new ministry in the form of a Pre-School for 3 and 4 year old children. This endeavor has proven to be highly successful under the guidance of the Pre School Governing Board and the able leadership of Kylie Krick, her assistants Kim McIntosh, and volunteers. The Preschool continues to grow and influence the lives of many youngsters.
In 2005 the church approved a position for second staff member. At this time the position is unfilled.
In April 2007 we had a group of 10 that went to Pass-christian, Mississippi to help rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. We went with a group from Westport and Greensburg. Those from Versailles were: Darrell Scotta nd Tom and Shirley Pavey. In October we went back to Mississippi. This time Dwight and Donna Sue Hooten, Tom & Shirley Pavey, Marian McKittrick, Bill Hughes, Gene Hafft, Daniel McEntush, Darrel Scott and from Tanglewood Church Own Menchoffer.
In 2008 a group of 6 went to Poland. Those who went were Dwight and Donna Sue Hooten, Tom and Shirley Pavey, Marian McKittrick and Daniel McEntush.
On October 19, 2008, at a special called business meeting, the Church voted to call Michael Cantrell to serve the Church as Pastor starting December 28, 2008.
In July 2009 the Church celebrated the 180th Anniversary of Christian service to Versailles and the surrounding area. The Anniversary Committee planned and implemented several special events to highlight the 180 years in the life of the church.
July 2009 saw an exciting event unfold in the life of the Church as eighteen (18) youth and five (5) adults travel to Birmingham Alabama on a mission trip under the auspices of World Changers. It is a joy to see the youth of the Church step out on faith and serve others.
In December 2010 we went to Chili on a mission trip. Those who went were Tom and Shirley Pavey andMarian McKittrick.That was the first time we met Dwight and Barbara Bolick.
In 2012 Versailles Baptist Church had a revival for the first time in quite sometime. Our Evangelist was Donovan A. Coley Sr. of Ft. Wayne, Indiana. The services started on April 1st with the morning service and continued through Wednesday evening April 4th. Evening services were at 6:30 p.m. each evening. There was a good attendance for each service.
In 2014 we had 6 from the ABWM that went to Green Lake for the World Mission conference. Those who attended the conference were Rand and Rosalie Hooten, Tom and Shirley Pavey, Cheryl Welch and Genelle Henderson.
Versailles Baptist Church celebrated 185 years of service in 2014. A Pitch in dinner was held on July 13th in the Family Life Center.
The Church now has a membership of 327 members. During the time Versailles Baptist Church was formed in 1829 to the present, 2015, the Church has been served by 47 pastors and 6 interim pastors.
In January 2015, Versailles Baptist Church started the refurbishing of the Church sanctuary. The sanctuary, the narthex abd the entry way was completely painted. The pews were taken out and the seats covered with padding and material. The floors in the sanctuary were sanded and refinished and new red carpet was installed in the sanctuary, the narthex, the entry way and also the stairs leading into the sanctuary. This was accomplished due to a financial gift given to Versailled Baptist Church by the generosity of Marge Olds, a member of Versailles Baptist Church who had passed away in August 2014. New steel doors were installed in 3 separate entry ways plus new glass entry way front doors were installed.
Also new this year, a Memorial Award awarded to a graduating High School Senior, and also one given to a College student given in memory of Marge Olds. Criteria for this is a 250 word essay.
Later on in the fall, new carpet was installed on the Church front steps and the railings were refinished. The carpet and the church railings were paid for by 2 anonymous donors. By the end of 2015, the amount owed on the Family Life Center loan was less than $20K. The loan will be paid off by the summer of 2016.
In July of 2016 the final payment was made to the Friendship Bank for the Family Life Center. A Celebration was held on October 1, 2016. We had a catered meal by the Tolling Pin Bakery of Versailles. The finance committee had a program after the meal and after Pastor Mike Cantrell opened with prayer; Larry explained about the beginning of the project and thanked all that had been on the various committees and their faithfulness in seeing the project finished. A short slide presentation was presented that was prepared by Dannie & Cheryl Welch. The evening finished with all of the people present forming a circle and holding hands while the mortgage paper was burned, and then all sang "Bless Be The Tie That Binds". Pastor MIke ended the evening with prayer. L:arry would like to thank the finance committee members for their efforts for the past 17 years. Merrill Bruce, Shirley Pavey, Jane Rogers, Darrel Scott, Helen Smith, and Cheryl Welch, also previous members Bob Gray and Texie Rogers.
Something new in 2017 is a 14 passenger Mini Bus pictured above. This bus was purchased to replace the old van. This will be a great addition to our ability for Christian outreach.
The Historical Records Committee has endeavored to compile a list of all the men that have served as pastors, full time and interim’s. The list is complete and accurate to the best of our knowledge.
Jesse Miles 1829
Lawson Stephenson 1832
M.C. Edwards 1834
Andrew Baker 1839
Moses Purcell 1842
Alexander Coonnelly 1846
Robert Stephenson 1848
Richard Kelly 1852
L. Ferris 1856-1857 Part-time
John Stott 1857
Enoch and Rev. Churchill alteternated pulpit between July 1858 to February 1859
Benjamin Daughters 1859
J.P. Collop was the first minister to serve Church following reorganization in 1882. Served in 1882 and also in 1895
F. W. Huckleberry 1883
Philmer Day 1884
Peter Long 1890
G. W. Bowers 1892
L.C. Protsman 1893
Luke Randolph 1898
C.F. Darne 1899
J. M. Swarthout 1904
J.C. Hayes 1907
Charles Greenfield 1909
J. Elvan Hughes 1910
A.E. Davis 1915
J. D. Franks 1917
H.H. Poole 1917-1919
M. L. Bannister 1919-1921
E. M. Harrison 1921-1923
E. H. Potts 1924
Clair E. Malcomson 1927
L.W. Stanger 1930-1934
W.W. Riggs January 1935
J. H. Daugherty Completed the year 1935
Ralph Johnson August 1936-April 1939
Owen Sherrill July 1939-March 1942
Harold Gray June 1942-August 1952
D.P. Rowlette November 1952-July 1957
G. C. McDaniel August 1957-1964
W.F. Fleming 1964-1969
W. M. Sayler Interim
Robert Brown 1970-1974
William Mittendorf January 1975-May 1976, Interim
Richard L Burcham May 1976-November 1981
Wm. Fox 1981, Interim
Harold Carter January 1982-1989
Stewart Silver 1990, Interim
Scott Hoppe April 1990-March 1992
Menlo Barnett 1992, Interim
Jan Hobbs November 1992-March 1999
Bill Rosser March 1999-September 1999, Interim
Mark Walker October 1999 – January 2008
Donald Humphrey January 2008 - December 24, 2008, Interim
Michael Cantrell December 28, 2008 - present
This brief history of the Versailles Baptist Church was updated by the Historical Records Committee in December 2016. We have endeavored to make it interesting and accurate. We humbly submit it to the congregation so you may better know the rich heritage of the Versailles Baptist Church.