The ‘clip-clop’ of horses pulling wagons along Parker Avenue (now MacDade Blvd.) is no longer heard. But the spirit of God, who brought First Baptist Church of Collingdale into being on a cold morning in 1887, still breathes life and purpose into the fellowship. The caring, compassion, and enduring faith which has characterized the members of the church for over 125 years, is still a strong presence in the community.
It was 1887, the year after the Statue of Liberty was dedicated; the Apache Indian Chief Geronimo and his followers finally surrendered, ending the last great Indian war; the twenty-second president, Grover Cleveland, son of a preacher, was occupying the White House for his first term. Four people met in the home of Mr. And Mrs. E.M. Royal at Parker (MacDade Blvd.) and Sharon Avenues. This would lead to the birth of the First Baptist Church of Collingdale.
As the congregation grew, it first moved to a building at Clifton and Hibberd Avenues. In 1889, a tract of land was purchased at Clifton and Andrews Avenues.
A Philadelphia mission donated an old, one-room church building that had to be moved from the city. The building had to be sawed in half in order to be moved through the covered bridge at 73rd and Woodland Avenues. When it was erected on the new site in Collingdale, the building accommodated 75 people.
By 1898 the church membership had reached nearly 100 members when tragedy struck. On November 1, 1898, the church building was destroyed by fire. Residents of the borough tried to save the building by forming a bucket brigade, but the fire was far beyond control. The church building was a total loss.
The membership of the church did not lose heart, and on April 12, 1900, the cornerstone was placed for a new church that would replace the building destroyed by fire. The new facility would be built at the same location on the corner of Clifton and Andrews Avenue. The large stone church building, with beautiful stained-glass windows, was built the year that started the 20th century. This building has continued to be a centerpiece of ministry spanning five generations and over twenty pastors.
First Baptist Church can look back on 135 years of God’s faithfulness. However, the members of the church also look forward to the challenges of the 21st century. The current pastor of the church, Rev. Perry E. Messick, says, “First Baptist Church is a ministry that desires to impact all of the residents of our community. We believe that we have been placed in Collingdale by the Lord Jesus Christ to provide a foundation of spiritual truth to life’s complicated questions.”