IN treating the histories of the various religious bodies in Port Hope, the order taken has been that suggested by a consideration of the dates at which their first churches were erected. Beginning with the oldest churchSt. John’sthe series has now been followed down to the youngest, and this chapter will contain a brief account of the progress of the Baptist denomination.
The history of the Baptist Church begins about the year 1850, when the Rev. J. Baird formed a small congregation and held meetings in the old chapel north of the present Church (now utilized as a storehouse by Mr. Hume.) The little company did not consider themselves a church nor were they in any way connected with the Baptist denomination. They merely held the beliefs of that body and waited until they should be in such a condition as would enable them to form a definite church. ‘This result was attained in 1855 under the pastorate of the Rev. Hoyes Lloyd and on June 21st public recognition services were held, officiated at by the Rev. James Pyper, D.D. of Toronto, Moderator of the Baptist Association. On the 9th of December of the same year Messrs. Wm. Craig, Sr., Morice Hay and Wm. Barnett were appointed deacons. For many years thereafter during the summer months baptisms tcok place in the Lake, while a baptistry was added to the chapel in 1856 for use during the remainder of the year.
In June 1859 Mr. Lloyd resigned his charge and left Port Hope. The Rev. Charles Elliott succeeded him during the following spring but only remained one year. The next pastor was the Rev. W. H. Jones, who in turn was followed by the Rev. John Dempsey in 1864. During the ministry of Mr. Dempsey the Church passed through an eventful period, for it was in his time that the congregation moved from the old chapel to the present Church. The initial step in this movement was the purchase and donation to the members of the Church of the lot on the corner of John and Augusta Streets by Wm. Craig, Sr. Then followed a period when subscription lists were to the fore, to which the same loyal gentleman contributed largely. The result of the effort was that during the next few years the present white brick edifice was erected at a cost of $9,000. On June 3rd 1868, the last annual meeting was held in the old Church ; April 25th 1869 witnessed the first baptism in the new building, and on June 6th of the same year the new Church was definitely opened. The old property had meantime been disposed of to Mr. R. Hume for $900.
Mr. Dempsey resigned from the charge in May of 1870 and two months later the Rev. Joseph King succeeded him. The sojourn of this pastor was as brief as that of his predecessors and in November of 1873 the Church was again extending a call,this time to the Rev. George Richardson. Mr. Richardson accepted and remained in Port Hope until 1879. During his ministry the present pipe organ, costing $1,000, was purchased and placed in the Church.
Since 1879 the pastorate of the Baptist Church has been filled by the Rev. A. P. McDiarmid, M.A., D.D., 1880-2 ; Rev. A. Murdock, M. A., LL. D., 1883-5 ; Rev. John Trotter, 1885-7 ; Rev. D. Reddick, B.A., 1887-92 and Rev. G. M. Leehy, 1893-94. The Rev. P. K. Dayfoot, M.A. has been pastor since 1894. Of these ministers Mr. Richardson is now in Hamilton, Dr. McDiarmid is Principal of Brandon College, Manitoba, Mr. Murdock is in Otterville, Ontario, Mr. Trotter in St. Catherines, Mr. Reddick is pastor in Denver, Colorado and Mr. Leehy is pastor in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
In 1894 a considerable addition was made to the east end of the Church providing additional class-rooms in the basement and vestries above and rendering the building most convenient and modern. A tablet in memory of the late William Craig is the only work of a commemorative nature within the Church.