The Baptist Church of Alhambra started with its forefathers meeting in the homes of such well-known people as Ephriam Harnsberger, Andrew Keown and William Harnsberger in the early 1850's. Reverend Thomas Ray was the pastor at that time and as more families began to come, the group of believers decided to build a church and organize into a Baptist congregation. This building, the first of three to come, was built in section 32, across the road from the old Siebert School in 1856. This Baptist church was officially started on December 4, 1856 and served the young congregation for 26 years at which time the decision was made to sell the building and land and build again in the middle of town on land donated by W. Pearce which was located at the present home of the late Calvin Lebegue and his wife Thelma at 211 E. North Street. It was in the east half of their home where the congregation actually met until 1964.
In the 30's and 40's when the church was between pastors, men would come from Alton to fill the pulpit. They were paid $5.00 to preach at both services. The church also paid someone to come early and start a fire in the old stoves to heat the church in the winter. They were paid 25 cents each week to do so. One of those fires got too hot back in the late 40's and resulted in only minor damage thanks to the local volunteer fire department.
During the 82 years at the East North Street location the church had the privilege of sending missionaries to foreign fields around the world which it continues to do today. After two building remodels it was decided to move again. In the late 1950's the church bought the ten lots making up its present location at Route 140 and Central Street. The first parsonage was built at this time with Pastor Truman Jingst and family being the first to reside in it. They lived in the basement while the main floor was finished. In the 1960's the first adult choir was formed followed by the first organ and a new grand piano given as a memorial.
In 1999 the church, under the leadership of Pastor Mark Gause, saw the need to undertake a building project that would seek to increase the church's size by adding additional space to the front of the existing structure. The new church was completed in 2002 and a dedication service held on December 15, 2002.
First Baptist Church of Alhambra continues to preach and teach the Word of God just like its forefathers. The Bible is still the only authority and each of the men who have been called as pastor still believe the Bible to be God's Holy Word that changes people's lives at it is believed, followed and lived. The message that Reverend Thomas Ray preached is probably not that much different than what you would hear today. The faithful men that God has sent over the years to minister His Word to us are, in order of service, Reverends Ray, Monroe, Milford, Baker, Green, Lolpy, King, Moore, Osborn, Rose, Freeman, Patterson, Alexander, Rhodes, Meeden, Miden, Jones, Walker, Fields and Gaffner and more recently Reverends Bob Buda, Truman Jingst, Russell Carnagey, Kevin Youse, Richard Davis, Dan Eloe and currently Mark Gause.
Thank you to Sterling Schoen for providing this historical information.