A Brief History

An Incomplete History of Bow Baptist Church

1837 – Present
Weathersfield Bow, Vermont

Early History: Church in the Bow

Jump to Recent History

As this territory was settled after the Revolutionary War, families came up the Connecticut River and following the Black River settling in Perkinsville, Weathersfield and Eureka. Others continued up the Connecticut and settled in Weathersfield Bow and Ascutney.

In the early 1800’s, Weathersfield Bow was a growing, thriving sheep farm community with hundreds of people and thousands of sheep in the area. The famous Consul William Jarvis settled in the Bow to raise his fine cattle and merino sheep, which he introduced into this country from Portugal.

The first church was erected in Weathersfield Center, the geographical center of these communities. Soon the residents of the Bow were not satisfied with this arrangement and in 1837 asked to be dismissed from the Center church to form their own church. An Ecclesiastical Council consisting of pastor and delegates from Windsor, Claremont, Cornish, Springfield and Chester, met at the home of William Jarvis to act upon this request. A vote from the Center Church consenting to this action if the council decided a new church should be organized was also laid before the group. The council decided in the affirmative at the Jarvis home.

The land on which this church was built was given by William Jarvis. On November 29, 1837, William Jarvis conveyed a small parcel of land across the street from his house for the sum of one dollar “for the erection of a house of Public worship of Almighty God at the Bow of Weathersfield.” The building was constructed of local field stones and hand-hewn timbers. Many of the timbers can be seen on the upper floors of the building today. The church building was erected in 1837 at a cost of $3300. About two-thirds of this money was raised by selling pews. Pews not sold were rented.

On August 4, 1838 the church gave Rev. Benjamin Holmes a unanimous call to become pastor. His installation took place December 12, 1838. His salary was set at $450 payable semi-annually with $50 in produce. On October 2, 1840 Rev. Holmes gave notice that his services would end with the last Sunday of January 1841. April of 1841 they voted to call Rev. John Dudley as pastor. He remained until January 28, 1845.

Records seem to be missing between 1845-1857 when Rev. Kimball supplied the pulpit alternately at the Bow and Ascutney. Rev. George White supplied full-time at the Bow beginning in March of 1866. A note of interest at this time was recorded that “an interesting state of religion was enjoyed” with sixteen uniting with the church as a result.

No records were found from 1873-1896 except that in June of 1876 it appears they lost possession of the meeting house for awhile and were considering legal action to regain it. 1896-7 Rev. W. C. Prentiss was pastor. In April of 1898, a call was given Rev. Vernon Benning to be pastor at both the Center and East churches. Salary paid was $600 and house-rent, paid monthly. In July of that year they met and rented the Chase House in New Hampshire as parsonage.

In 1899 the North side of the church was reroofed. Records are sparse from then until 1951. Mrs. Katherine Jarvis Hunt had charge of the building for a time as an Episcopal Church. In 1913 they voted to hold services during the six months of summer. In 1914 a committee was elected to make repairs on the cellar.

An annual meeting was held most years from then until 1951. In 1927 Rev. C. B. Etsler, pastor of Claremont Congregational Church and acting pastor in the Bow, baptized seventeen children. In 1933 he baptized seven more. The membership of the church was at an all-time low of two members in 1936; Mrs. Adin Putnam and Mrs. William Haskell. Through the efforts of Dr. Augustine Jones minister of the Springfield Congregational church, the membership was increased to eighteen.

On July 31, 1938 the one hundredth anniversary of the church was held. Rev. William Forkell of Hartland was acting pastor at the time. In 1940 John E. Frittzmeir was pastor and Rev. Coffin was acting pastor in 1941.

In October of 1944, work was begun on the basement, making it suitable for various meetings and suppers. Until this was done, church suppers were held at the back of the sanctuary. For this reason, the original choir loft at the back of the church was removed and a place for the choir made at the front right of the church so there would be more space at the back.

On October 6, 1951 the group met and voted to hire Mr. Martin Hodgeman for one year. Fifty were present at this meeting. He stayed until October of 1954. Water and toilets were put in the church basement. Sunday School was held. A heating system put in and pledge envelops were used. In November 1954 a set of by-laws were drawn up. Rev. Vickman was pastor for ten Sundays, from November 1954 to January 1955.

On January 16, 1955 Hial Snell, a licensed minister of the Advent Christian Denomination, was asked to supply. He was called as pastor on February 13, 1955 and continued until September 20, 1970.

During Pastor Snell’s 15 year pastorate a Wurlitzer electric organ was purchased in 1957, the doors on the pews were repaired and replaced, and the heating system was replaced with a new, larger one in 1962.

Pastor Snell resigned in 1970. After his resignation the church was temporarily closed for Sunday preaching services.

(This early historical information has been adapted from various records and the Vermont Journal of July 14, 1938.)

Recent History: A Revived Church

In 1971 Wes and Joy Smith purchased the old William Jarvis house. They soon spoke with others in the Bow and outlying communities about reopening the church, which was accomplished in 1972.

In 1973 the church called Cliff McDermott. Pastor McDermott resigned in 1974, but not before altar calls and invitations to be “saved” or “get right with God” became common at the conclusion of the preaching. For some years laymen filled the pulpit but something was different. The majority of the church members considered themselves evangelical and voted in 1977 to change the name of the church to Bow Bible Church.

In November 1979 Pastor Ken Pledger came with his wife, daughter and two sons. Door-to-door soul-winning evangelism and a bus ministry were started. The church began to grow with hundreds saved, baptized and added to the church membership. Before long, the church membership began to understand that they were not Bible Protestants but Independent Baptist in doctrine. In 1982, the church voted to become the Bow Baptist Church. In 1983, Bow Baptist Academy was started as a Christian school ministry of the church.

After Pastor Pledger’s resignation in June of 1986, Mike Holman served as pastor for less than a year.

Walter McDaniel from Tyler, Texas was unanimously called as pastor on May 10, 1987. Pastor McDaniel, a 1981 graduate of Hyles-Anderson College, his wife Joyce and their two daughters, Rachel and Joanna moved to Vermont the first week of June.

Many improvements and updates were made to the church plant. Lighting and carpeting were added in the auditorium, the pews were refurbished and reupholstered, the two front doors were re-hung to open outward and a large center double door was installed to open into the church main auditorium, the parking lot was paved, a modern kitchen was created downstairs, and the second and third floors were finished out to accommodate needed Sunday school classrooms and office space.

Under Pastor McDaniel’s leadership since 1987, Bow Baptist Church has continued its emphasis on Sunday school, soul-winning, youth and prison outreach, bus ministry, world missions, Biblical standards, and red-hot preaching of the King James Bible. The door to door soul-winning ministry has resulted in thousands saved and hundreds baptized. Bow Baptist Church is an independent, fundamental, Bible-believing Baptist church made up of committed, Biblically born-again believers.

Being “Biblically Born-Again” means that you can know for sure that if you died today you would go to Heaven.

Jesus said in John 3 “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Men and women are born the first time of their parents, but to go to heaven, they must be born a second time of the Spirit of God. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:6)

1. Understand that you have sinned.
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 If you are honest, you know that we have all sinned, even if you have only told a lie. I am a sinner; you are a sinner; all people are sinners. We have all done wrong.

2. Understand that the Penalty for Sin is Death and Hell.
“For the wages of sin is death…” Romans 6:23 “…and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” Revelation 21:8
Our sin, even if it is only a lie, deserves to be punished. The Bible tells us that our punishment is death in hell; BUT—good news! You don’t have to go to hell!

3. Understand that Jesus died to pay for your sins.
“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God, did not deserve to die, but He did it for us, so that we don’t have to. He has already paid the debt we owe for our sins.

4. Understand that Heaven is a free gift of eternal life.
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23 We accept eternal life in Heaven just as we would a free gift. It costs us nothing; it cost Christ everything. “For by grace are ye saved through faith…not of works…” Ephesians 2:8-9

5. Understand that eternal life in Heaven is yours for the asking!
Do you admit that you are a sinner? Do you believe Jesus is the Son of God? Do you believe He rose again from the dead? If yes, then God can save you right now! Simply ask Him to save you. Romans 10:13 “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Pray a simple prayer and sincerely mean it in your heart:
“Dear God, I know I am a sinner and I deserve to go to Hell, but I’d like to go to Heaven. Please come into my heart, forgive me of all my sins, and give me that gift of eternal life. Today, the best I know how, I trust You alone as my Saviour. Amen.”

Vision for the World, A Home for Your Family

At Bow Baptist Church, we believe that God’s Word provides the only solid foundation on which to build our lives. We believe that God has a purpose for every life. That is why we make no apology for teaching and preaching the Bible. Families here at Bow Baptist Church have discovered the joy of being a part of a friendly, Bible-believing church that works hard to meet the needs of every age group. Our heart-felt prayer is for you to know Christ and be involved in a church home that cares for you.