In 1833 the first white settlers came to the territory that later became Grundy County.
The first non-Catholic Church in Missouri was of Baptist faith, organized near Jackson, Missouri, in 1806. This was fifteen years before Missouri became a state, eleven years before there were public schools, and eight years before the state had a bank. Baptists were truly pioneers.
In 1838 under an elm tree standing on the south bank of Grand River, as the end of Water Street, which is now South Main in Trenton, a band of religious pioneers gathered to consider the organization of a church. These early pioneers brought not only courage and fortitude but a trust of God.
When their homes was built, it was only natural they should think of forming a church. So it was in 1838 that this group organized what was to become the First Baptist Church of Trenton.
Early records of the church have been lost, but it has come down to the present time that the first court of Grundy County was held in a log building near the old city cemetery which was listed in the court records in 1841 as the Baptist Church.
In 1850 the church erected its own house of worship on the lot at 419 South Main. The building was 40 feet long and 26 feet wide. It soon became inadequate for the church’s needs and was enlarged by ten feet. It was originally known as the Washington United Baptist Church.
The church has always been missionary and cooperative. The Missouri Baptist General Association was organized in 1834. In just four years the Trenton church was organized and has been a member of the Association through the years.
The church was seven years old when the Southern Baptist Convention was organized in 1845. It has supported continually the mission projects of the General Association and Southern Baptist Convention. The organizations and educational programs of the church have always been Southern Baptist in nature and emphasis.
It is not known for sure when the local Sunday school was formed because early records were lost. It was a part of the Grand River Sunday School Association as early as 1866. In 1868, the church became a member of State Sunday School Convention.
Music has been an important part of worship. Church choir has been organized in 1867 and it has maintained since that time.
In 1875 the church decided to relocate and a committee was formed to purchase a suitable site. The church purchased a lot from James Davidson for $650. It was located between Main and Elm Street near school. The cost for building a Gothic style church was $5,600. Many sacrifices were made by the members to pay for the church. This church served the congregation well until the arrival of a new century.
In 1906, the existing church was torn down to make way for the present structure. The work was completed in 1907 at a cost of $25,000. The new educational structure was built in 1937. It was built to match the main building architecturally.
The church now owns the building that houses the Wright Studio, and hopes in the near future to enlarge its facilities to meet the experiences of the church in its growth.
In the spring of 1987, a long range planning committee was formed to determine how we could serve the Lord and where we wanted to be five years from now. It was during this time that structural problems were discovered in the sanctuary of the first Baptist Church. The foundation had settled, the north wall was bulging, and the balcony was pulling away from the west wall.
With the fear of trembling, options were explored. Should we shore up the present building, demolish it and rebuild on that site (the home of the First Baptist Church of Trenton since 1875), or seek another location and erect a new facility.
Property on Oklahoma Avenue was purchased and building committee was selected. “Building for Tomorrow” was the theme chosen for the program to raise funds to finance the facility.
Groundbreaking for the new church was held on June 18, 1989, on the site at 26th and Oklahoma Avenue, and construction began immediately. It was exciting to watch as the work progressed at a rapid pace.
On July 16, 1990, a police escort led the way as members of the congregation walked from the old church building at 11th and Main to the new building at 2421 Oklahoma Avenue. Services were held in both buildings that day.
Throughout the years the First Baptist Church has stood as symbol for Christ in the community. It has provided valuable leadership for many functions in the community. It has carried on a strong evangelistic program and provided valuable counsel to many. It has served as a place for Christian education and training for many individuals. It has provided opportunities for spiritual growth through various activities, programs, and the preaching of God’s word. It has stood strong during times of crisis not only in the country but also throughout the world. Through it all, the First Baptist Church has remained committed to seeking God’s will and following His vision in the future.