Chester Baptist Church will celebrate its rich heritage and 200 years of existence on August 16 at the church, which is located three miles south of Chesterville on State Route 314. A day of celebration is planned.
The original church building was founded in 1819 by the first pastor, Rev. Henry George. He organized about twenty members in the Chester Township community, (previously in Knox County), in 1815 holding services in individual homes.
Born in 1761 in Tilgrath, South Wales, Mr. George and his wife emigrated to the Philadelphia area around 1800. In 1811 he was sent to Ohio by the Baptist missionary board. He stopped for a short time in Delaware County and later settled near Chesterville.
A friend gave him 100 acres of land with the understanding that four acres be set aside for “church purposes”.
A stone and brick mason by trade, Mr. George built a cabin. His trade put him in great demand and in his missionary duties he traveled a wide area working with Wyandotte, Seneca and Delaware Indian tribes.
In 1819 he built the first church — a log cabin with dirt floor, greased paper windows, logs for seats, a large fireplace and two stocks driven in the ground with a board tied to them for a pulpit. The original church building was chartered March 19, 1819 with 22 members. A new frame building was constructed for $1200 in November, 1850, which is still in use today.
The Rev. Henry George died in 1821 and was buried in the church cemetery located behind the church he founded. His unusual tombstone is about 30 inches wide and nearly six feet long and is mounted flat rather than the customary vertical position.
In the present structure, which is close to the location of the original log church, much of the original woodwork still remains. An addition to the structure for a social room with kitchen, Sunday school rooms and restrooms was completed in 1981.
In the earliest records of the “Ladies Aid” meetings, quilt blocks were made for missionaries. This tradition is still strong today as the ladies of the church make quilts for distribution to the needy as well as collecting donations and packing shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.
Rev. John C. Wythe has been the devoted pastor of the Chester Baptist Church since 1982. Visitors are always welcome. Sunday School begins at 10 a.m. and worship is at 11 a.m. A day of celebration is planned with special and former pastor speakers in the church service at 11:00 followed by a covered dish dinner. A tribute to the Rev. Henry George will follow with a concert by the Baptist Brothers Gospel Group to begin at 1:30 pm. All are welcome to attend.
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