Our church has a great heritage, even as it has a great future.
Rev. O.C. Wheeler was God’s instrument to give the first spark of flame for the First Baptist Church of Stockton. He sent a letter on October 1, 1849 to Captain Weber asking the donation of property for the building of a church. That spark became a tiny flame in 1853 when J. B. Saxton of the American Baptist Home Mission Society selected Stockton as his first field of labor. He resided on South Sutter Street and had seventeen members in his home on March 6, 1853 to organize the First Baptist Church.
The seventeen who were the charter members back in 1853 were people of faith. For three months, they worshipped in a school on the corner of Market and San Joaquin streets until they found a fandango hall on South Center Street which was purchased and prepared as a house of worship. It was dedicated on May 22, 1853. The new church moved to the corner of Lindsay and Hunter on June 11, 1860. The challenges were different then, but they rose to face them with a deep faith in a loving God who had brought this congregation into being.
The church building, which stood from 1860 to 1910, measured 45’ x 87’ with a tower and steeple 130 feet high surmounted with a gilded hand six feet tall. The hand had its index finger pointed upward toward Heaven. The auditorium and balcony seated 500 people. It was dedicated in June of 1861, the same year that the oldest picture on record was taken.
Plans were laid in September 1908, for the erection of the building, which was destined to stand on Lindsay and Hunter from 1910 to 1953. Services were held on March 12, 1911, in dedication of the new building.
God continued to write history through His people. The next milestone for First Baptist took place under the leadership of Rev. Curtis Nims, when the congregation purchased acreage on the corner of El Dorado and Euclid streets. The first spade full of earth was turned during groundbreaking ceremonies for a new building on February 15, 1953. The first two buildings and acreage were completely debt free. The plans for our present sanctuary were drawn when Dr. Emmet Parks was our pastor and the present sanctuary was dedicated on September 10, 1961.
Outstanding ministers have pastored this thriving congregation through the years and each left a significant mark on the lives of people and the ministry of the church. We found God to be faithful and as people of faith, the ministry has moved forward and expanded.
Under the leadership of Dr. Jim Dunn and his staff, we were called to demonstrate the same faith and commitment of those who have laid such a strong foundation upon which we would take giant strides as a church. In 1991, our congregation financed the renovation of our Worship Center and the upgrading of our Educational Facilities. In 1996, we added our Welcome Center and in 2003, we began the construction of our Children’s Building which now hosts our school. In 2009, we purchased the property at the corner of El Dorado and Fulton streets, which is now our Ministry Center.
In 2013, our church started a new chapter with the call of Dr. Bradley Stahl as our Senior Pastor. Under Pastor Brad’s leadership our church continues to thrive and impact our community for the cause of the gospel. God has great plans for the future of our Church. Our prayer is that He continues to bless our church and that we will live to His expectations.