History of Holyoke's Churches

Second Baptist Church

Rev. J.S. Lyon, D.D., Pastor

      This church is peculiarly fortunate in having among its members an unusually aggressive group of men, who can always be counted upon to co-operate in the work of their own church and to aid in any Christian effort in the city.

Second Baptist Church
Second Baptist Church

      The Men's Class connected with the Second Baptist Church has an enviable reputation and on many occasions has made its influence felt, not only throughout the city, but also in the moral issues of the Commonwealth. Dr. Lyon, pastor of this church, has, to put it mildly, a state-wide influence. No preacher in the state is more in demand for service on important committees, and as an after-dinner speaker. Dr. Lyon has few equals in Massachusetts. He is active in the management of the Newton Theological Seminary; he is president of the Holyoke Civic Improvement Society; he is actively interested in the Board of Trade, and throughout his pastorate Dr. Lyon has always shown a sincere and practical interest in local civic reform. Mrs. Lyon, too, has entered into the better life of the city with the keenest interest. Under Dr. Lyon's aggressive leadership the Second Baptist Church has attained great influence in all affairs which call for the working together of the Protestant forces.
      June 24, 1849, this church was organized with 42 charter members, most of whom had taken letters of dismissal from the First Baptist Church at Ireland Depot, but it received its present name April 12, 1850, soon after the incorporation of the town of Holyoke. The first place of worship was Gallaudet and Terry's Hall, at the corner off High and Lyman streets, and in those early days the congregations varied from 100 to 150.
      "We must start off right; we must have a Sabbath school," said Deacon Chase, and a session was held the very first Sunday. The following November the congregation moved to Chapin Hall, where services continued to be held until the vestry of the first church building was completed in 1855. Mrs. George E. Lamb was the first convert to be baptized.
      In the autumn of 1863 the newly built meeting house was totally destroyed by fire, but this catastrophe simply roused the church to greater activity; with remarkable swiftness a new church was built, and on April 20, 1865, it was dedicated.
      This church had been completed but a few years when Rev. O.J. Adams entered upon his remarkable pastorate of 16 years, a pastorate marked by remarkable prosperity along all lines. On a single day 44 were baptized, and in the first four and one-half years 262 new members were received. Along material lines success was as great as along spiritual ones, for it was under his leadership that the present church was being erected. At this time when this strong church does things so easily, we find it hard to realize that at the time when this building was built it was the greatest sort of effort for this church to buy even the land required, not to speak of the securing of funds to build its fine building, but Dr. Adams proved big enough for each emergency as it presented itself. This building has in its auditorium seatings for 900 persons, and it cost about $73,000. In another connection we mention the missionary activities of a later pastorate, that of Rev. C.H. Kimball, when, at Willimansett, a chapel was built, and a work started, which in time was to become the Beulah Baptist Church, and the Ward One Mission, as it was then named, was also launched.
      This church is really only waiting until the best plan of enlargement presents itself, to make a considerable betterment in its already fine plant; one of the most urgent needs being for suitable quarters where the Men's Class, already mentioned, may hold its weekly session.
      The present membership of the church is 730; and that of the Sunday day school about 600.
      Pastors: Rev. Asahel Chapin, June 24, 1849-May, 1852; Rev. James French, January, 1852-December, 1855; Rev. George W. Gorham, December 1855-October, 1858; Rev. A.J. Bingham, May, 1860-May, 1861; Rev. C.H. Rowe, June, 1861-April, 1862; Rev. A.M. Averill, July, 1862-December, 1867; Rev. Edwin Burnham, January, 1869-October, 1869; Rev. R.J. Adams, December, 1869-March, 1886; Rev. C.H. Kimball, September, 1886-October, 1889; Rev. J.W.T. Boothe, January, 1890-December, 1898; Rev. C.B. Turner, July, 1899-August, 1900; Rev. J.S. Lyon, January, 1901.

Rev. Dr. J.S. Lyon
Rev. Dr. J.S. Lyon

      Covenant.—As we trust we have received, through Divine grace, the Lord Jesus Christ, and given ourselves wholly to Him, and on profession of our faith been buried with Him in baptism and united to His Church, a precious privilege as well as duty, we do now solemnly and joyfully covenant with each other, and, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, engage—
      That we will walk together in brotherly love; exercise a Christian care and watchfulness over each other; participate in each others joys; and with tender sympathy, bear one another's burdens and sorrows.
      That we will not forsake the assembling if ourselves together; but seek and pray for the spirituality, harmony, and prosperity of the church, sustain its worship, ordinances, disciplines and doctrines, and give its claims a sacred pre-eminence over all organizations of human origin:
      That we will cheerfully contribute of our means as God has prospered us for the support of a faithful evangelical ministry among us; for the relief of the poor; and to spread the gospel over the earth.
      That we will maintain private and family devotions; religiously educate the children committed to our care; abstain from the sale and use of intoxicating drinks as a beverage; and endeavor, in purity of heart and newness of life, and good-will toward all men, to exemplify and commend out holy faith, with souls to the Saviour, and hold fast our profession till He shall come and receive us to Himself in the heavenly mansions.
      Officers: Deacons, George E. Lamb, N.L. Cain, R.W. Sanderson, A.J. Rand, E.S. Packard, T. Henry Spenser, S.S. Rogers, Charles A. Chase, Charles P. Randall; church clerk, Fred P. Cleveland; church treasurer, C.W. Rider; prudential committee, W.H. Bullard, Joseph Collingwood, Dr. G.L. Gabler, H.F. Haskell, S.S. Rogers; society treasurer, W.J. Mills; society collector, F.W. Ely; society clerk, John Hildreth; Sunday school visitor, Mrs. Josie Chase Porterfield; Sunday school superintendent, G.W. King; organs, Emil H. Bemis; sexton, George N. Frissell.
      In connection with the Second Baptist Church should be mentioned Endeavor Chapel in Ward One, where, under the direction of this church a Sunday school is carried on, and services held every Sunday evening.
      For a time Endeavor Chapel was under the leadership of successive clergymen. Rev. Mr. Halloway, who served there a decade ago, being remembered as a peculiarly aggressive pastor. He was succeeded by Rev. L.J. Bamberg, who went from here to Laconia, N.H., and by Rev. J.W. Leonard, who after earnest service here, became pastor of the Baptist Church at Amherst.
      For the past few years a committee of members of the mother church has had the work in charge and at present the committee is as follows: Charles A. Chase, chairman; P.M. Mars, J.C. Dickinson, Miss Harriet Grant, Miss A.C. Cleveland, Miss C.P. Cleveland, Mrs. C.A. Graves.
      The membership of the school is 115, and it is a very loyal membership, too.
      This enterprise started October 28, 1888, in the vestry of the old Baptist Church on Main street, and grew until the present attractive building, on the southwest corner of Mosher and West streets, became an actuality. The building was completed in 1890, at a cost of about $5,000.
      The name Endeavor Chapel arose naturally, as the Christian Endeavor Society of the Second Baptist Church was very sturdy in its backing of this enterprise, and the enthusiasm of the young people proved so contagious that all denominations gladly contributed toward building the chapel.

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