Our Church History

The Voluntown Baptist Church was officially constituted in 1832 as a Branch of the Packerville Baptist Church. For several years, the small congregation met in Voluntown's schoolhouses.

In 1838, the church began meeting in our present sanctuary, which was built in 1828 by the Doane Manufacturing Company (the White Mill). In the 1850's, people started leaving the area because of financial difficulties.

In 1869, the original bell was sold for $85, and the money was used to purchase an organ, chandelier, side lamps, books for the library, seat cushions, door locks AND the pastor's salary!

In 1882, the Ladies' Group raised money to build a parsonage and a barn. That parsonage once stood directly behind the church.

In 1897, there was a fire in the south end of the church, and evidence of this fire can still be seen in the attic.

In 1915, the ceiling of the church was lowered and the ten memorial windows were purchased.

The hurricane of 1938 damaged the chimney and roof of the parsonage, the church doors and destroyed the chapel building and the carriage sheds.

In 1939, the parsonage was sold, an outhouse was set up and a fund was started to build a new chapel.

The new chapel (the older addition just behind the sanctuary) was built in 1955 (with indoor plumbing) thanks to the fundraising efforts of the famous Mr. & Mrs. Club, which was a highlight in the church's history, and is still remembered by many in our town.

Interesting Tidbits

Back in 1828, the minister's salary was raised by the rental of pews, hence the numbers on each aisle.

Extensive renovations were completed in the church during the 1950's and 1960's. For example, brown paint was stripped from the pews by volunteers (820 man-hours!).

The lettering "Seek Ye The Lord" in the sanctuary was done in gold leaf by VFD Chief Henry Kaufman.

The platform in front of the sanctuary has a tank underneath for baptism by immersion.

The balcony area (now enclosed due to the 1897 fire) was renovated in the 1960's to expand Sunday School space.

We purchased our old parsonage in 1999. It stood in the grassy parking area behind the church. Since then, we have added a new Fellowship Hall (Phase I), renovated the kitchen, paved the parking lot, landscaped the church lot, purchased five acres of land behind the property, and completed our Christian Education Wing on the lower level (Phase II).

There are plans to repair the fire damage and reopen the balcony, restoring the church to its full beauty (Phase III).

Most of the land which makes up the present town of Voluntownschool banner was granted to the Volunteers of the Narragansett War in 1700, thus the name "Voluntown."

Before the Civil War, God planted seeds of faith in Voluntown and from those seeds, we grew. The history of our town and its churches stand together, as different expressions of the same Christian faith. We invite you to be a part of our history.

Our Denomination

American Baptist roots begin in England with John Smyth, the Founder of Modern Baptists. Under pressure and persecution, the first Baptist church in England was begun in 1612. Roger Williams came to America, and when he was persecuted in Massachusetts, he established the first Baptist Church in America, in 1638, in Providence, Rhode Island.

We are a Christ-centered, Biblically grounded, ethnically diverse people in personal discipleship of Christ Jesus.

Our commitment to Jesus propels us to nurture authentic relationships with one another; build healthy churches; transform our communities, our nations, and our world; engage every member in hands-on ministry; and speak the prophetic word in love.

As a people of prayer, purpose, and passion, we are in the forefront of creating a community of faith where people of every race, nationality, and culture gather as one in worship, service, and work.

The Heart of the gospel is God's redemptive love. In our life together, the world will see the power of forgiveness to overcome alienation, the strength of love to transform hate, the power of grace to break the bonds of guilt, the triumph of hope over despair, and the victory of faith over doubt.

Through the cross of Christ, we embrace the world as neighbor. Our vision for mission energizes a multitude of servant ministries of evangelism, discipleship, leadership, and new church development, social justice, healing, peacemaking, economic development, and education. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we work together in mutual submission, humility, love, and giving that the gospel might be preached and lived in the entire world.