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On April 30, 1854 seventeen charter members met to consider forming a Baptist church and erecting a building. The church was 38’ wide and 50’ long and 18’ to the ceiling. On June 17, 1854 they called Rev. John B. Jackson as pastor for $500.00 a year. The building was dedicated on November 11, 1855. The cost was a little more than $3,000.00 including the bell. In 1855 a parsonage was presented to the church by Mr. James Hall. The church was entirely rebuilt in 1899. This building was 43’ by 62’ with a bell tower 72’ high. In 1910 the church was redecorated and then painted the following year. A basement was completed and a furnace purchased in 1920.
In April of 1944 the old parsonage on the corner of Hobson and Dean was sold for $2,175 and the present parsonage on North Church Street was purchased in May 1944 for $3,100. On Sunday morning October 24, 1948, the church building was completely destroyed by fire. During the next fourteen months, services were held regularly in the Masonic building while the new church was erected. The present building was dedicated February 26, 1950. It was valued at $35,000 with an actual cost of $28,941.10 since the former foundation and basement were used. There was a $5,000 balance due on this building but this indebtedness was cleared before the end of the dedication service. An organ was purchased in December 1951.
During December 1980-
In June, 1996 we received $144,000.00 from the Estate of Helen Pitman and additional monies were added. We accepted a bid from Custom Structures of Ashland, Illinois in July of 1997 for an addition joining to the back of the church building for $256,225.00. A ground breaking ceremony for a new 60 x 62, 3720 square foot addition was held on August 10, 1997. The new addition was completed by Spring of 1998 and on Easter Sunday morning, we had our first fellowship together when the ABY served their annual breakfast. Pitman Hall was dedicated on June 14, 1998 and contains a new Pastor’s Study, rest room facilities, a kitchen, and a fellowship hall. Groups like the girl scouts have used our facilities for years for small celebrations and monthly meetings, and we are now happy to make Pitman Hall available to them.
Since the construction of Pitman Hall, family weddings, graduations, anniversaries, and other family celebrations no longer have to be held at other church halls due to space restraints. Like most American Baptists we love to celebrate! Pitman Hall is an answer to those prayers. The present building stands as a reminder to the community of Virden that hard work, perseverance, and the unity of people through the love of God can sustain and more importantly nourish, the needs of this community and the world. We stand proud in our commitment to maintain and communicate our American Baptist heritage, yet work hard to show our “oneness” with other denominations through participation in Virden Ministerial Association events. Easter Sunrise Services, Community Vacation Bible School, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Sings are all events that we participate in with our fellow Christian neighbors.
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