It’s unknown how long the little group of men and women had gathered to hear a missionary minister, Rev. W. D. Hendrickson, bring the Word of God to them, but at some point they decided to offïcially band together as a church congregation, and on February 28, 1886, they recorded the following minutes in a journal:
The Baptists of Wellston met today in Evans Hall and effected the organization the First Baptist Church as follows: Rev. W. D. Hendrickson was requested to act as Moderator and F. D. McCarthy as Clerk Pro Tem. Letters were presented by the following persons: Joseph and Mrs. Lavina Currington and Cora Summers from Bloom Baptist Church, Mrs. Mary Jonas, Mrs. Lillie Williams, Mrs. Emma Nutt and Frederick D. McCarthy from the First Jackson Baptist Church.
The following names were presented of those who wished to become members but who had not yet procured letters, Mrs. S. C. Brown, Mrs. Andrew Roy, T. M. Harris and Mrs. W. Harris, Mrs. Tilly Phelps, Peter Wollam and Mrs. Lucinda Wollam. The Church Covenant and the New Hampshire Articles of Faith were adopted.
We know very little about these earliest church members, but we can be certain that they came from all walks of life. Some of them would remain a part of First Baptist, others would leave. Rev. Hendrickson would serve as pastor until ill health would force him to give up the Wellston pulpit in October of 1886. Regular weekly meetings would no longer be conducted but the Sabbath school would be “kept up." F.D. McCarthy, the first church clerk, would soon move to St. Louis where he died that same year, 1886. Mrs. Emma Nutt, “a strong supporter” of the church would go home to be with her Lord in the spring of 1888. Even while in this valley, a church clerk indicated that the congregation remained hopeful when he wrote “But as the Lord has called some of our members home it seems he has sent and is sending others to fill their places.” And “fill their places” they did when in the autumn of 1888 Reverend J. E. Thomas arrived and “prevailed upon them to make an effort to do something and finally an effort was made,” meetings resumed and at least thirty-three more members were accepted by January of 1891. Among these were J. H. Sellers Jr., J. C. Baker, W. P. Thomas and others, dedicated men and women who would work to glorify God by spreading the Gospel and building up the church.
On January 24, 1891, with $1 in the treasury and $88.61 outstanding debt, the congregation decided to step out in faith and begin searching for a lot to build a church, but this would not be realized until 1894 with the church being built in 1896. In the meantime, the group continued their meetings at various places, such as in the Clutts building and the Presbyterian Church. T. M. Harris (one of the first deacons and the first treasurer), Mrs. Harris and Mrs. Andrew Roy united with other churches in 1893, but God continued to bless the First Baptist congregation with new members and a large group of young people to be trained in God’s service. By 1892 eighty-two members were reported and by 1896, 169 members.
Over the years, many have come and gone through the doors of First Baptist. God has raised up “pillars of the church" and faithful workers in each generation. The membership has experienced mountains and valleys but always in the company of and upheld by God. May the future find First Baptist of Wellston still reaching out to lost souls, encouraging them to accept the salvation offered by our Heavenly Father.