217 Years of Ministry and Counting
On October 7, 1800 an Ecclesiastic Council convened at Exeter consisting of representatives from the churches of Haverhill, Massachusetts and Newton, Brentwood and New Rowley, New Hampshire. After considerable evaluation and discussion, they proceeded to give the right hand of Fellowship to The First Baptist Church of Exeter (FBCE). The meeting was moderated by Hezekiah Smith and recorded by Samuel Hatch, the clerk. In 1818 the Baptist Church/Society was incorporated by the New Hampshire Legislature as a religious body.
The following video was made during our 215th Anniversary Celebration in October, 2015. It offers a glimpse into our beautiful sanctuary as well as some of the events surrounding the celebration.
FBCE–now known as The Red Brick Church–has gathered for worship and ministry in a variety of places throughout its history. The church first met in a home with a dozen members. Soon congregational growth required a move to small church building on Water Street in Exeter. Continued growth allowed the building of a larger meeting space on the same street. That site is now on the Historical Register of Exeter. In 1871 they broke ground for the present red brick church building on the corner of Spring and Front Streets, with completion in 1875 and dedication in 1876.
A Presence at Significant Times in History:
As a house of worship in Exeter, The Red Brick Church has been a beacon of hope during times of crisis and loss of sustenance or life. It has also been a place of celebration for the joyous times of life for many generations, a place where new families were formed and new life celebrated. Built when Ulyssus S. Grant was president of the United States, prayers have been offered within its walls for 28 presidents and for a nation that lost five sitting presidents.
Its stained-glass windows heard the hymns of the faithful when Gilbert and Sullivan were composing H.M.S. Pinafore (1878), the South was being reconstructed (1877), and medical history was being made by Pasteur with the successful administration of the rabies vaccine (1885). Worshipers climbed its stairs as steps were taken in governmental houses to give freedom to Native American Indians (American Indian Religious Freedom Act 1978), the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote (1920) and throughout the civil rights movement of 1960-65. Hands gripped its pews as a world-wide depression (1929-42) gripped our nation.
Parents, wives, husbands, children, sisters, brothers and friends have prayed for the safety of soldiers fighting in two world wars and more recent foreign wars. They have welcomed the weary home and have given solace to the families of others whom they would meet again in another place and time on far distant shores. The church opened its Front Street doors to welcome in all who sought a place of prayer and comfort after the devastating terror attacks of September 11, 2001 and held a memorial for nine people slain at Emanuel AME Church in 2015.
The Red Brick Church continues to be an integral part of the fabric of a community, and we are hopeful that it will continue to be for many years to come.
If you are interested in learning why we, a Protestant Church, have a Star of David on the front of our building watch the video below
Ministers in the History of Our Church
Twenty-eight ministers have been called to serve to First Baptist/The Red Brick Church since the year 1818 when its first pastor, the Reverend Ferdinand Ellis, was called. Following are those ministers who have served:
1800-1818 – Laity
1818-1828 – Rev. Ferdinand Ellis
1828-1832 – Rev. John Newton Brown
1833-1834 – Rev. John Cannon
1834-1837 – Rev. J.G. Naylor
1837-1838 – Rev. Noah Hopper
1840-1845 – Rev. T.H. Archibald
1848-1850 – Rev. E.J. Harris
1851-1853 – Rev. James French
1854-1856 – Dr. Franklin Merriam
1856-1861 – Rev. James J. Peck
1861-1871 – Rev. Noah Hopper
1871-1894 – Rev. John N. Chase (Congregation moved into current building.)
1895-1914 – Rev. Ansley E. Woodsum
1914-1917 – Rev. Herbert F. Cawthorne
1918-1920 – Rev. S Walter Schurman
1921-1934 – Rev. John. L Clark
1935-1945 – Rev. Howard P. Weatherbee
1946-1953 – Rev. Edwin H. Shuman
1954-1954 – Rev. William Norman
1955-1960 – Rev. Donald B. Morris
1960-1969 – Rev. Harry G. Ford
1970-1975 – Rev. Everett R. Scruton
1975-1985 – Rev. Jerry Miller
1986-1996 – Rev. Walter T. Steenson
1997-1998 – Rev. Richard Hyman
1999-2008 – Rev. Jamie S. Moynihan
2008-2016 – Rev. Dr. Deanna J. Swilling
2016-Present– Rev. Dr. Lillian J. Buckley