Early members of First Baptist Church
Early members of First Baptist Church
For 175 years, First Baptist Church has been actively winning the lost to Christ and nourishing the Saved. On Sunday, the church will celebrate that long life with special programs, said Pastor Isaac Zull.

In 1838 there was one church building in Union Township, Montgomery County, Indiana, according to a history of First Baptist Church written by Mary Ann Salter and Carlton G. Christensen titled "150 Years of Service for God 1838-1988" and published in a program for the church's 150th anniversary. 

The one church building had been built by the Primitive Baptist Church and was located on North Washington overlooking Sugar Creek. 

The Baptists free loaned out that log church to other churches in the area who wished to use it. In all likelihood, that was the first building occupied by First Baptist Church, though that has to remain conjecture because a fire destroyed records of the church's first 24 years. 

We do know the church was organized in 1838 (again, we don't know the date) by a minister sent out by the Baptist Home Missionary Society, William M. Pratt, who "established a school in Crawfordsville to support himself, and he served as the first pastor of the Crawfordsville church," the Baptist Home Missionary Society arrived in Indiana five years earlier. Baptists had been here since the first protestant church in the state was established near Charlestown. 

Pratt was born in New York. In addition to Crawfordsville, he established churches in South bend, Mishawaka, Logansport, Lafayette and in other regional locations. 

Twelve people were the first members of First Baptist Church in Crawfordsville including J.B. Austin, and Henry and Nancy Gray Ristine. The first member received by baptism was Catherine Asenhurst. Her grandson served the church in many capacities until his death in 1961, according to the church history. 

In 1842, William Nicholson donated property at the corner of Pike and Walnut streets and the First Baptist congregation completed a building the following year. That building was known as First Baptist Church until 1975 when the present building was completed on S.R. 32 west. 

"I have had people ask, 'How did that happen? One hundred and 75 years. A lot of churches don't last two years," Zull said. "It is by God's grace, not by our accomplishments or wisdom or because we're better people than others, but by His grace the church has been open 175 years and we hope to continue."