The beginnings of Ebenezer Baptist Church take place in August 1837, 19 years after the formation of Perry County. S.D. Alton, John Carfman, William Holmes, Louis Madden, and Henson Marlow established the church and began to meet in their log homes for prayer and worship services. Preachers would come sometimes to preach for them. The church unites with the Scioto Baptist Association the following year.
In August 1838, a council met to prepare the articles of faith. These articles were adopted after the pattern of the Regular Baptists of Jesus Christ. They voted to call the church “Ebenezer” which means “stone of help”. In 1 Samuel chapter 7, Samuel set a memorial stone to commemorate God’s divine assistance to Israel in their battle against the Philistines.
That same month, on August 18, 1838 a log church building was completed. This log church would serve the congregation until a new church was built in 1867. The church would serve generations of church members until 2008 when a new church is built. The 1867 church is now the Heritage Center and is used for Sunday school classes, youth meetings, and Bible studies.
The first few years of Ebenezer saw great growth. The pastorate of John W. Miller was blessed with revivals and many conversions. By the beginning of the1860’s, under the pastorate of S.C. Tussing, the church had grown to more than 60 members. At the time, population for Monday Creek Township in which the church is located, was approximately 1,000.
As the 20th century began, the church continued to experience growth. On March 24, 1903, a committee including William Davis and H.A. Wilson, was appointed to solicit funds for building a belfry and purchasing a church bell. The total cost of the project is approximately $300. Today, the cost would be $8,000. The church bell was moved to the new church in 2008 and still rings each Sunday.
Our church hosted the Scioto Baptist Association meeting in August 1907. Those attending the meeting were greeted by members of the church at the railroad station in Webb Summit on State Route 93 North. Ebenezer Baptist is admitted to the Columbus Baptist Association after the Scioto Baptist Association disbanded in 1916.
By the close of the first 100 years, the church was meeting twice a month for worship services, led by Pastor N.B. Clibourne. The church had a Sunday school and an active youth group.
A group of ladies met with Ruth Mather, president of the Columbus Baptist Association, to form a women’s missionary society in January 1935. Among the first women in the WMS were Mrs. Mary Griggs, Mrs. Lucy Howdyshell, Miss Ethel Howdyshell, and Mrs. Berndetta Smith. Now known as the Women’s Missionary Union (WMU), the group is still active in home and foreign missions projects.
Ebenezer Baptist Church celebrated its Centennial in 1937. Over 500 people were in attendance for the special Sunday service.
Several improvements were made to the church during the pastorate of Rev. Lawrence Sprankle. Improvements included the digging of a full basement in 1949 which provided space for Sunday school rooms. During the pastorate of Rev. Wilburn Martin in the early 1950’s, new flooring and carpeting were installed. The first electric organ for the church was purchased in 1954. Miss Amanda Wilson, church pianist and organist at the time, would serve in that capacity for more than 50 years beginning in 1921. The 1950’s also saw the first wedding performed at the church. Neva Coomer and Jerry Dupler were married on September 22, 1957 with Rev. Don Scribner officiating.
In November 1957 property was purchased in Maxville for a parsonage. That parsonage was used until the current parsonage was built near the church in 1968 for about $24,000 on land donated by Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wahl.
Rev. Charles Spier became the first full-time pastor in September 1958 and served until 1963. He served a second pastorate from 1976 to his retirement in 1999. Our other full-time pastors are: Rev. Ernest Hulsey (1963-1966); Rev. John McDanel (1967-1970); Rev. Wilburn Martin (1971-1975); Rev. Steve Hubbard (2002- present).
More remodeling to the church was done in 1972. On October 4, 1972 church members voted unanimously to build onto the existing church building. A new educational wing would include Sunday school rooms, an office, and for the first time in the church’s history indoor restrooms. Groundbreaking ceremonies were held November 4, 1973. The completed educational wing was dedicated in a special service May 26, 1974. Rev. Wilburn Martin was pastor during this time. Just five years later, on November 11, 1979, the mortgage for the educational wing was paid off and a Sunday afternoon mortgage burning and homecoming dinner was held. Extensive remodeling to the sanctuary was completed in time for the Sesquicentennial which took place on October 4, 1987.
In September 2002, after three years of interim pastors (Rev. James Allison, Rev. Jim Mathewson, and Rev. Jim Baugess), Rev. Steve Hubbard became pastor. Rev. Hubbard led the church through various phases of growth. Several new ministries were begun, including FAITH visitation, a drama ministry, an archery club, Discipleship classes, and IFUEL at Hocking College. The number of missionaries the church supports was also increased.
In 2006, the church withdrew from the American Baptist Convention and joined the Southern Baptist Convention.
After several years of praying, searching, and planning, in June 2007, the church was given 61.9 acres of land adjacent to its current location. The church members are grateful to the many members of the Hazelton family who donated their portions of land and to Attorney Ed Johnston who donated hundreds of hours of legal work to assist with the acquisition of the new property.
After the land was cleared, construction began on the new church building in May 2008. Baptist Builders for Christ sent over 700 volunteers from 18 states who spent the summer constructing the facility. The new church has a sanctuary that seats 300, offices, a kitchen, and Sunday school rooms.
The congregation gathered at the old church one last time, on November 23, 2008. After a couple of hymns were sung and a show of appreciation for Rev. Hubbard, the church family walked to the new church for the first service. Over 350 people were in attendance for this historic day.
As the church has continued to grow, new staff has been added. Karen Westenbarger became the first church secretary in 2004. Tim Coleman became the first full-time music and youth pastor in 2010. He was ordained by the church in 2013. Emery Howdyshell began serving as Compassion Ministry/Pastoral Support in 2012. Christopher Johnson has served as church administrator since 2014. Lori Wolfe began her duties as Financial Administrator in 2009. The church has two staff who help maintain the church facilities: Mike Helber who joined the staff in 2004 and Deb Stimmel who has served since 2012.
In addition to Tim Coleman, the church ordained three other ministers from its own members: S.C Tussing, W.W. Marlow, and A.B Weatherby. It granted license to preach to B.G. Bowman, George Hunsaker, Tim Lehman, Phil Westenbarger, John Geil, who with his wife Eva served as American Baptist Missionaries in the Belgian Congo for many years.
The church has continued to be blessed by the Lord as we reach out to our community and the world with the gospel. We are seeing the results of those who have gone before us. We strive to build on this Godly foundation so that future generations will be impacted.
“MAY EBENEZER CHURCH GROW AND PROSPER UNTIL TIME SHALL BE NO MORE AND MAY THE BLESSING OF ALMIGHTY GOD EVER BE AND REMAIN WITH YOU ALL”
L.W. MARLOW, JULY 28, 1937