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Return to Milestones Vol. 4. No. 4
On November 14, 1801 Brother Ezekiel Jones and his wife, Hannah, along with 21 charter members met to organize a new church under Elder Henry Spear, who probably was an intinerant Baptist preacher. The Providence Baptist Church is the oldest Baptist Church of worship in the county. It is the mother of many churches, notably the Baptist Church of Ellwood City, Harmony, Harlansburg, Unity, Beaver Falls, New Brighton, Grove City, Cannelton and others.
Worship services were held in the Ezekiel Jones cabin, along the banks of the Connoquenessing Creek about 4 miles above its confluence with the Beaver River, until a log church was erected and used as a site for worship until 1847. (The Ellwood Country Club, now stands almost opposite the place, where "The Old Apple Tree Stood", which shaded the Jones home. The tree was blown down in a storm of 1926). Then a frame church was built situated on the hill about threequarters of a mile south from the spot where the first band of Christians were organized into a church. It stood until it was destroyed by a storm in 1856. The church was rebuilt the same year and the frame building, remodeled in 1898, houses the present congregation. A baptistry was added as previous baptisms being administered in the Connoquenessing Creek and sometimes it was necessary to cut a hole in the ice in the winter months. New oak seats replaced the old straight ones and a hot air furnace was installed. A large bell was placed in the belfry, a gift from Deacon S. M. Hazen. The belfry itself a gift from Deacon Ezra Hazen. The beautiful stained glass windows were gifts from the wives and children of those whose names they bear in remembrance of loved ones who have gone on to their reward. The church was remodeled in 1950 in time for the 150th Anniversary celebration.
In the early lists of members we recognize many names of ancestors of present members, and also members of sister churches, whose heritage of Godly influence has been handed down from generation to generation enriching not only the church since its inception, but has endowed the community and nearby towns with untold blessings. Among the elders of the early days we find the names of Ezekiel Jones, Henry
Kirkendall, Oliver Jones, Issac, John and Nathaniel Hazen, John Robinson and Nathan Hazen. These have all long since passed to their reward, their rudely-carved gravestones crumbling in the churchyard nearby.
At first the church grew very slowly, owing to the sparsely populated district and the great distances from which many came. In 1832 there were sixty-two members. In 1838 the membership had nearly doubled, 110 members being recorded. From this time on the church grew in membership and influence, owing to the settlement of the country, though some of the members came a distance of fifteen miles to church. In 1890 the roll had reached three hundred, when the Ellwood Church was organized, and more than one-third left to join the new church.
A "Memorial Window" was dedicated in 1939 in the Baptistry. It was made by hand by Valentine d'Ogries of New Hope, Pa. It contains one thousand and one pieces of colored glass and is an excellent piece of art.
The first formal wedding in the Providence Baptist Church united my parents F. Mildred Warren and Gustave G. Hampe, June 7th, 1934.
An old stained glass window that was in the original church was installed above the front entrance of the church in the summer of 1976 in time to celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the church.
The church has taken part in the Beaver County Bicentennial activities with a display booth at the Beaver County Courthouse, Aug. 1-3, 1975 and also participated in the Northeastern Beaver County Fair held at the North Sewickley Grange Aug. 1976.
Thirty-five pastors have served the church with an interim pastor in 1966 until Rev. Rennie came in Nov. 1966. He retired Aug. 1, 1977. The church is now under the pastoral service of Rev. Barnes from Salem Ohio, who began his pastorate Feb. 5, 1978. He was formally installed as pastor at an installation service Feb. 26, 1978.
Still Providence Church stands as a beacon light set upon a hill, shedding her light and influence far and wide. The ebb and flow from this bethel has been continuous and the blessing of the Holy Spirit very manifest throughout the generations.