A Brief History of The First Baptist Church of Painted Post
In part adapted from “The Early History of the First Baptist Church of Painted Post” by Ellsworth Cowles, 1969
The officially recorded date for the organization of our church is March 18, 1853. As a result of a great revival in the Corning Baptist church, 19 people organized the First Baptist Church of Painted Post and named Benjamin F. Balcom as our first pastor. He served in this role until 1857.
The cornerstone of the church building was laid on August 8, 1860 and the building was completed in the spring of 1861. Our church sanctuary is that original building. Rev. Samuel M. Bainbridge (1859-63) was our pastor during this construction period.
Our church history is filled with stories of growth and perseverance through some difficult times. A flood did much damage in 1865 and then just two years later another major flood hit the area. Both of these floods required much work and sacrificial giving to keep the ministry going. Our former parsonage was built in 1910 (and sold in 1995). In 1916 the central spire of the church was removed and an addition with two towers was added to the front.
Most of the early pastorates were for less than five years. Rev. E. A. Snyder was the first to stay with the church for a prolonged time as he ministered here from 1909-1924. Dr. George Horter pastored the church from 1924 to 1934, and even though this was the era of the Great Depression, it was a time of prosperity and spiritual growth for First Baptist Church.
Rev. C. W. Vandenbergh (1935-43) was pastor during another devastating flood in 1935. He advocated that the church should minister to not just our own congregation but to the entire community. Rev. Earl Gross (1943-47) ministered during the World War II years and led the church as the congregation raised $6,000 to help ravaged churches rebuild after the war.
During the tenure of Rev. William Cusworth (1948-1967), the 100th anniversary of our church (1953) was marked by the construction of the Christian Education Building and Fellowship Hall. In 1964 new front church entrances were built, and the sanctuary was remodeled. Rev. Cusworth also helped found Camp Friendly which brought New York City children by train to Painted Post to live with church families for a week of Vacation Bible School, picnics and sight-seeing.
Rev. Jack Long (1968-1989) was our pastor during the Flood of 1972. This was the worst flood in church history, and devastated the building as well as the homes of 100 church families. Resisting a move to tearing the church down and rebuild with the Methodist and Presbyterian congregations, Pastor Long convinced the people to repair the building and remain on our original site.
Rev. Robert A. Sienkiewicz was called to be our pastor in September of 1990. His pastorate was tragically ended as he died from heart surgery complications on October 18, 1995. He is credited with having rejuvenated our church through several youth programs like Kids Klub and Vacation Bible School.
Rev. Gary A. McCaslin began his ministry in January 1997 as our twenty third pastor and sought to build on the enthusiastic groundwork laid by Rob Sienkiewicz. As a life long educator, Rev. McCaslin was proud and challenged be called to pastor by a American Baptist congregation which recognized and valued the sacred worth of an individual’s relationship to God. Rev. McCaslin retired from the ministry Sunday 30 June 2013 concluding 16 ½ years of leadership.
It was during Rev. McCaslin’s tenure that First Baptist moved its membership from the Living Waters Association of the American Baptist Churches of New York State to the more theologically open and diverse Rochester Genesee Region.
When the First Baptist sanctuary was placed on the National Historic Register in 1999, it joined The Painted Post Train Depot as the only other village structure on both the National Register and its original site.
With the Infinite Love of God and life-giving Gospel of Jesus Christ at the center of their lives, the congregation adopted a new Mission Statement, January 26, 2003. This single sentence provides both inspiration and motivation for the church as we work together and move into the future:
The First Baptist Church of Painted Post is a diverse fellowship of loving and caring families
who witness God’s Love through learning, living and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ