[p. 50]SECOND BAPTIST CHURCH, LIVERMORE.
THE means of gaining information concerning the history of this church are very limited, but as far as we are able we will present some of the most important facts. The account of the organization of this church is as follows:
"It having pleased the Lord to work a reformation in some of the inhabitants of the south part of the town of Livermore, in the year 1811, who, together with some of the members of the First Baptist church in Livermore, on account of their local situation, did at a meeting held for the purpose, agree to send letters to the neighboring churches to organize them into a separate church. Whereupon the following churches by their messengers, assembled at the barn of Mr. I. Lord, in the north part of Turner, at ten o'clock, A. M., on Monday, the 9th day of September, 1811. The following churches were represented at this gathering: Buckfield, Sumner, First Livermore, and Leeds. A council was formed with Rev. Nathaniel Chase as Moderator, and Rev. Thomas Francis, Clerk. After due deliberation, taking into consideration the local situation of the brethren, the council voted, 'It is highly expedient that they be organized as an essential Church.'"
At two o'clock in the afternoon of the same day the people gathered again in the barn of Mr. Lord, and after listening to a sermon from Elder Francis, text, Phillippians 1:6, "Being confident of this very thing that he which hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ," the following persons declared their fellowship with each other as members of the mystical body of Christ, their belief in the apostles' doctrine as abridged in our confession of Faith, and their determination through grace, to walk agreeable to our covenant: Rev. Ransom Norton, Isaiah Bonney, Elizah Fisher, Robinson Turner, William Saunders, Jacob Packard, Bradish [p. 51] Turner, Hannah Phillips, Sarah Bryant, Jerusha Fisher, Sally Saunders, Rachel Robinson, Hannah Childs, Sally Turner, Jerusha Packard, Loraina Turner, Hannah Reading.
The hand of fellowship was given to this new organization by the Moderator, Rev. Mr. Chase, and the Second Baptist Church of Livermore was started on its way heartily "commended to God and the word of His Grace."
Rev. Ransom Norton was the first pastor, beginning his labors with the organization of the church. New members were soon added by both baptism and by letter, and on November 3, 1811, it is recorded, "The ordinance of the Lord's Supper was administered for the first time to about thirty members." Elder Norton was pastor of this church about sixteen years. He died in this town in 1834.
Those who followed in the pastorate, as nearly as we can ascertain, have been: Revs. W. Foss, Martin Leonard, Joseph Hutchinson, Samuel Boothby, Levi Burnham, Nathan Mayhew, R. C. Stonner, Orin Richardson, R. C. Starr, R. B. Andrews, S. S. Wyman, P. Bond, A. H. Gould and David Nutter.
Rev. S. S. Wyman was pastor at three different times. Other ministers have supplied this church occasionally, but Rev. Mr. Wyman was the last settled pastor mentioned in the records. He closed his labors in 1880.
In September, 1883, the records state, "Rev. O. Richardson was with this church and baptized one new member into its fellowship." This is the last addition to the church by baptism mentioned in the records.
It would be very difficult to give any account of the services of the above named pastors more than to say that they were faithful men whom God honored and blessed in winning souls into His kingdom. During each pastorate the church received new members both by baptism and by letter and experience. The record of their labors has been faithfully kept on high.
Three pastors were ordained by this church as follows: Rev. J. Hutchinson, January 9, 1839; Rev. O. Richardson, August 16, 1860; Rev. Samuel Boothby, May 8, 1884. Justin K. Richardson was also licensed to preach the gospel, November 12, 1864.
The first meeting-house was built in 1819. On August 19, 1841 the church voted "to take the old meeting-house down and rebuild it in a more suitable location about half a mile north of [p. 52] North Turner Bridge." This vote was later carried into effect and the meeting-house, which is standing to-day in a fairly good condition, was dedicated January 3, 1843. Rev. Adam Wilson preached the dedicatory sermon taking his text from Haggai 2:9; "The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of Hosts; and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of Hosts." The building committee reported all bills paid except about ten dollars for the stove.
The deacons who have served this church are as follows: William Saunders, Stephen Benson, Seth Beal, Lincoln Anders and Zenas Lane. The last named, after years of faithful service, died October 11, 1891, aged sixty-six years. The funeral was attended by Rev. G. W. Colby of the First Baptist church in Livermore. One of the few remaining members recently said to the writer, "With the death of Deacon Lane the church seemed to have lost its last earthly prop."
The records state that a Sunday-school was organized in June, 1844, with a membership of about forty and a library of thirty-three volumes. No further mention is made of the Sunday-school and we do not know how long it continued.
This church never had a large membership upon its roll at any one time, although many additions were made by baptism and by letter. There seems to have been as frequent dismissions as additions and many times the prospect of this little church looked discouraging.
In November, 1834, we find this record: "In our low and scattered situation met in church meeting. Resolved by the help of God to retain our visibility one year longer." The following four or five years witnessed some additions by baptism but more were dismissed and given letters to join other churches of the same faith and order. In December, 1839, the records state: "This month it was thought best, and for the good of the cause, as the Lord has been graciously pleased to revive His drooping cause, to hold a series of meetings in conjunction with other denominations in this vicinity, and the Lord was truly with us. The church was revived, backsliders were restored and sinners were converted, additions were made to the church. Bro. Joseph Hutchinson, a Licentiate, has been laboring with us."
In January, 1840, Mr. Hutchinson was called to the pastorate and ordained. During his ministry conversions and baptisms [p. 53] were frequent, but letters of dismission were also often called for.
In February, 1860 the records show that "Rev. R. Dunham and Bro. O. Richardson commenced a series of meetings which the Lord was pleased to bless." As a result of those meetings a number were baptized and the church was also strengthened by additions by letter and experience. Hope was revived. August 16, 1860, Brother Richardson was ordained, Rev. William Hurlin preaching the ordination sermon.
August 30, 1861, we find this record, "Conference meetings and prayer meetings well attended and a good degree of feeling." For the several years next following additions by baptism are frequently reported, but to the great trial of the church, removals and dismissions were more frequent. It seems that God intended the Second Livermore church to be the nursery from which was to be sent forth stalwart christian men and women fitted to be a source of strength to other churches in our own and other states. A feature in the reception of members into this church which is not a common one, was that five had to relate their experience in writing, being both deaf and dumb. Two of the four members now living are of this class.
In the year 1863, Mr. Ichabod Boothby bequeathed to this church property to the value of one hundred dollars. In the church Records there is also a copy of the last will and testament of Sister Sarah Jewett, dated May 17, 1865. Among other things mentioned in this will was a legacy to this church.
The following is an extract from the last matter of record in the church book:
"May 11,1892."Meeting of the Second Baptist Church of Livermore was called by Rev. G. W. Colby, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Livermore, he having previous to the meeting notified all the known members of the church, nearly all of Whom were present. A short religious service was held followed by a business meeting. Rev. G. W. Colby was chosen moderator and Mrs. Elva M. Pratt, clerk for one year or until another shall be chosen. Deacon J. O. Palmer of the First Baptist church was chosen trustee of the funds belonging to the church which at this time consists of $200.00 and interest since last October. There seemed to be no one in the church so well fitted to attend to it."
For quite a number of years only occasional services have been held in the meeting-house of the Second Baptist church in Liver- [p. 54] more. The interest on the fund being used as designated in the will, in payment for preaching by Baptist ministers in this house.
The pastors of the First Livermore church have usually preached there a few Sundays in the Summer and while a number gather to listen to the word, averaging from thirty to fifty, the four living members of the church are so situated that not one of them can attend.
The Second Baptist church in Livermore has done a noble work. It was certainly a vine of the Lord's own planting. Through its agency many earnest and faithful christians were first led to accept Christ as their Saviour and enter into His service. Removals and death have so depleted its ranks that soon, apparently, its name must be erased from among the churches composing the Oxford Association. Possibly the work given it to do by the Great Head of the Church has been completed. Many former members are still living and doing grand service for the Master on other fields. Rev. O. Richardson and wife, held in loving remembrance by many in this town, are living, at an advanced age and in feeble health, in Des Moines, Iowa, and their son, Rev. Justin K. Richardson, a licentiate of this church in 1864, after filling successfully large and important pastorates in the West, is now President of Des Moines University in the same city.
Of this church it can well be said: "She rests from her labors, but her works do follow her."
During the history of this church nearly one hundred have been received by baptism and nearly as many more by letter and experience.