Over 150 people, church members and friends, joined together on Sunday, May 2nd for an outdoor service to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the founding of The First Baptist Church of Brentwood and is the oldest active Baptist church in New Hampshire.
First Baptist was begun under the ministry of Rev. Dr. Samuel Shepard, a physician, who had been converted to Baptist belief a year earlier, after reading a tract given to him by Rachel Scammon, believed to be the first Baptist in New Hampshire.
During his 40 year pastorate Dr. Shepard made many evangelical tours in the surrounding area, planting some 23 congregations as he went, all of which remained under the auspices of the Brentwood church.
In 1810 the Portsmouth Baptist Association set aside "The Brentwood Baptist Church and its branches" as its own Association. It is believed that, at that time, the Brentwood church was the largest church of any denomination in all of New England.
Following Dr. Shepard's death in 1815 the branch churches began to break off, continuing ministry as their own entities. Many of the congregations founded by Dr. Shepard are still active today.
Rev. James Barnes, Pastor and Rev. Malcolm Hall, Deacon, led the worship service, while Rev. Dale Edwards, Region Minister, preached, then served Communion, assisted by former Pastors, Rev. James Smith, Rev. Cliff Vendt and Rev. John Hastings.
Following worship the crowd was treated to an old-fashioned box lunch. Gov. Chris Sununu joined the group, bringing greetings. Gov. Sununu remained for some time, interacting with the crowd and even helping the Sunday school kids bury a time capsule, to be opened in twenty-five years.
First Baptist holds two services each Sunday, at 9:30 and 11:00 am, but expects to move outside for the summer soon, whereupon the schedule will change to a single 10:00 am service.
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