Faith Baptist Church

Amherst Faith Baptist Church

440 North Lake Street
Amherst OH  44001

The roots of the church go back to a Bible study that was started in the Schatz’s home in 1951. Mr. Leland Howard, a recent graduate of the Cleveland Baptist Bible Institute (which would later become Cedarville University) was asked to lead the group. The Bible study moved from house to house and grew steadily. Rev. L. G. Howard stated in the History of the Faith Baptist Church “on the last Sunday evening of March 1952, a small group of Baptist people met at the house of Mr. Edward P. Ellis, Sr. for Bible study and to consider the beginning of a Baptist Church.” The group saw the need for a
Baptist church as there were not any Baptist churches in Amherst at that time. The Bible study moved to the Town Hall in May of 1952. It was on July 16, 1952, that 24 people joined together to form the Faith Baptist Church of Amherst, Ohio. Mr. Howard was called to be pastor at a salary of $25 per Sunday.

Of pressing concern was to find a suitable meeting place for the church by winter, since the second floor of the Town Hall was not heated. Three lots were offered: one on Kolbe Road, one on Middle Ridge Road and one at the corner of Lake Street and Milan. $250 was paid for the lot at Lake and Milan, and the groundbreaking occurred on Sunday, October 5, 1952. The lot came with full utilities, saving the church a considerable amount of money. The first service in the church basement was held in December of 1952.

Members were able to worship in the upper level of the building in April of 1954. Many people donated their time, their resources and their skills to construct the new Baptist church. The Tettaton family donated a considerable amount of time and building expertise in the construction process. Individuals in the congregation bought windows and lights for the building. Pastor Howard spent many hours working on the building.

Many new people joined and served the church in the early years. In 1952, 24 people were added to the congregation, 37 in 1953 and 73 in 1957. Sunday school grew rapidly as well, from 50 attending in 1952 to an average of 110 attending in 1954. Baptisms were celebrated in Lake Erie, the Vermilion river and First Baptist Church of Elyria. The church had a Boys Brigade and Pioneer Girls program for children.

The church had a missions and church planting emphasis from its start. Beth Odor was the church’s first supported missionary and continued to be supported in her role for the next 50 years. The Women’s Missionary Union (W.M.U.) actively supported the missionaries by providing clothing, giving financial gifts and praying. The Faith Baptist Church acted as a mother church for a church in Berlin Heights, Ohio, by taking on Rev. and Mrs. Paul Mayo as members. In February of 1958, the church was given free air time to broadcast Sundays on WEOL.

The church’s first mortgage was paid off just in time to expand the facility at Lake and Milan. Land was donated, money was given, a mortgage of $30,000 was secured and a larger auditorium was built. The new church building was designed to seat 300 people. It was dedicated on October 22, 1961.

In 1962, Pastor Howard left Faith Baptist Church to serve Rochester Baptist Church in Rochester, Ohio. Later in 1962, Rev. Robert Barrett was appointed pastor of the church. Pastor Barrett guided the church for 36 years, and brought many innovative changes. The constitution was changed to improve the organization of the church’s ministry. Committees were set up for music and Christian education. The church moved from having three treasurers to one. New furnishings were purchased for the new building, including new pews, a new pulpit, a new communion table and new hymnals. The name of the church was officially changed in 1971 to Faith Baptist Church.

The church’s support of local church planting ministries expanded during the 1960s and 1970s. Starting in 1965 the church gave assistance for several years to help start Calvary Baptist Church in Oberlin. In 1967, the church gave monthly support to West Side Baptist Church.

Rev. Robert Lilly was the first song leader and choir director to be compensated for his ministry. He began his ministry in 1969 and was given $50 per month. He went on to another ministry in 1970. That same year, David Smelser accepted the call to be the church’s first full-time youth and music pastor. Mr. Smelser was a graduate of Grand Rapids Bible College (now Cornerstone College). He ministered until 1974.

On May 23, 1971, the church voted to relocate. The church had grown from just one lot at the corner of Lake and Milan to occupying three lots and there were not enough parking spaces. A generous inheritance of approximately $450,000 from the estate of Mr. Bruno Buschek made the move possible. A 7.34 acre parcel of land was bought on North Lake Street for $50,000. An architect was found who, in the words of Pastor Barrett, “had been working on a unique design” and was waiting for “the right church to do it for.”  Groundbreaking was held in July 1972, 20 years after the church was founded. The people of the congregation worked diligently on the building. It was a rainy year which slowed construction down. The building was dedicated on June 17,

In 1974, Mr. Gary Ream accepted the call to serve as a youth and music pastor. He also graduated from Grand Rapids Bible College, with a degree in Christian Education. Pastor Ream introduced the “Pro Teen” program into the church. He served in the church for almost four years.

As the church grew, various projects were undertaken. The church paved the parking lot in 1974. In 1976, equipment was purchased to maintain the ball field in back of the church. Pastor Barrett was the pitcher. He energetically competed during church softball games. The church participated in the Hebron Association softball league.

The debt on the building was paid off in 1983, freeing up money to increase the church’s support of missions as well as improve the building. Four missionaries were added to the church’s regular support in 1983.

Since 1985, the facilities have almost been completely remodeled. The bathroom floors were replaced in 1985. New carpet was laid in the hallways in 1987. The parking lot was expanded in 1990. A garage was built in back in 1994. A new sound system for the sanctuary was purchased in 1997. The roof of the sanctuary was shingled and the skylight reglazed in 1997. The back parking lot was repaved in 1998. The sanctuary was renovated in 1999.

Rev. Barrett retired from the ministry at Faith Baptist Church in late 1998. Rev. Willis Hull came to the church in early 1999 as the interim pastor. In May, the church voted to call him as the senior pastor of the church. During his tenure as senior pastor, the sanctuary was remodeled and six missionaries/agencies were added to the mission support. Pastor Hull battled several illnesses that ultimately led to his decision to step aside from the ministry of senior pastor to that of interim pastor.

Mr. David Engle was called to be the youth pastor in 2001. He is a graduate of the University of Akron.

In March 2002, the church called Rev. Michael Plog to be the senior pastor. He is a graduate of Baptist Bible College, Pa., and Dallas Theological Seminary. He came to the church from Fox Valley Baptist Church, East Dundee, IL.


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