First Baptist Church celebrates 175th anniversary
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent June 7, 2012 4:44PM
The congregation of the First Baptist Church is shown in mid-century in front of the old building at Lafayette and Indiana streets in downtown Valparaiso, Ind. | Photo provided
All events take place on Sunday, June 10 at First Baptist Church, 2205 N. Campbell St., Valparaiso.
9 a.m.: Prayer service, followed by doughnuts and juice.
10:30 a.m.: Worship service with old hymns and contemporary Christian praise songs.
Noon: Catered lunch; tickets are $6 in advance by calling the church, 462-8754, or $8 at the door.
1 p.m.: Music begins, with Into the Light and Lexi Elisha. Kids activities also available.
4 p.m.: Service with featured guest Roy Patterson from radio WMBI-90.1 FM.
For more information on the church, call 462-8754, or go to
Updated: July 9, 2012 6:07AM
Valparaiso’s First Baptist Church is aptly named.
The church, which celebrates its 175th anniversary Sunday, June 10, was the first Baptist church in Porter County, said its pastor, the Rev. Denver Ayres, who has been with the congregation for four years.
The church moved to its current location, at 2205 N. Campbell St., in 1961. Before that, it was downtown.
“You know where the
Chicago Street Theatre is?
That used to be our church,” Ayres said. “Our church built that addition that Chicago Street Theatre is using.”
The first church was a wood structure constructed in 1854. It was replaced by a brick building in 1881 next to where the theater is. The Rev. Victor French founded the church in 1836.
“He was the first Baptist minister to ever preach in Porter County,” Ayres said.
Over the years, membership has waxed and waned. When Ayres took over, the congregation had 50 members; it’s now 125 and growing.
More than 20 percent of the church budget goes to mission work, and the church focuses on its motto, Ayres said, which is just preaching God’s word and not watering it down.
“The reason we’re still here is the grace of God,” he said. “There have been some great things, some highs and lows.”
Over the years, different groups have left the church and started new congregations, including Calvary Church in Valparaiso and Liberty Bible Church in Liberty Township.
“We have ties to so many different churches in this area. It’s been a blessing,” he said.