According to our Town Historian, the down town area in Derry back in the 1800’s was rowdy and wild. A group of concerned citizens got together and wanted a Christian presence there. In 1880 they built the First Baptist Church. The church is located at the crossroad of Broadway and Crystal Ave, an intersection of two main streets in Derry, and one of the busiest in New Hampshire.
During the last 131 years, First Baptist Church has had 12 pastors who each served their Lord for an average of 11 years. Our current pastor, Malcolm Widness, started here in 2011. The previous pastor, Reverend Jim Smith and his wife Sharon, was with us from 2001-2011.
Our physical location is unique and defines us in large part. On our property are the church and sanctuary, which seats around 150 and houses several large meeting rooms, and a fellowship hall with full kitchen. We also have two other buildings including apartments that are rented out, additional office space, and our Food Pantry. That gives us visibility and potential for impacting the community. We have wanted to take advantage of our location for many years, and have purchased neighboring or surrounding properties as they have become available.
In 1988 the Church voted to purchase the property adjoining ours in the hopes of using the property for later expansion. That same year FBC made a decision to be more involved with the town and started “First Baptist Church Community Food Pantry”, which still serves over 150 families each month, 25 years later.
That was also the same year our people decided to let out space to the “Sonshine Soup Kitchen”. Our partnership with that group, which feeds a meal to over 40 people each weeknight, continues to this day.
Upkeep on a building that is over 130 years old is sometimes difficult. This past year, through some special collections and the work of several volunteers, we were able to repair the clock faces on our steeple clock which hadn’t been done in almost 45 years. That helped beautify the church and the town.