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Our story


     Shortly after Roger Williams settled in Providence (1636) a number of families who came with him or followed him to this new land made their way to the Pawtuxet River and near its mouth, at Little Falls, founded the village of Pawtuxet. This community soon grew and prospered owing largely to its favorable location. The beautiful sheltered and commodious harbor, opening into the bay and thence to the ocean, attacked ship owners, traders, and others. Pawtuxet became a part of considerable importance. Ships sailed to all part of the world, many to the West Indies, carrying to and bringing back merchandise.

     Religious worship, however, did not appear to have been held in the Village in an organized form in or a century.  Private homes were probably used for meetings as in other colonies.  Records due show that several families attended the First Baptist House in Providence and became members. The weekly practice of worshiping on the Sabbath at that distance from home must have been a great inconvenience to the colonists, especially during inclement weather, because they had to travel over rough country roads in horse drawn conveyances. It can easily be understood why two land donations were made for a house of worship in Pawtuxet Village.

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The Earliest factual records

     The earliest factual records that apparently can be found pertaining to a Baptist Church in Pawtuxet are those concerning a donation a small piece of land by Peleg Arnold in April 1764 and 18 months later, a similar donation of adjoining land by his neighbor, Abraham Sheldon, for a local church home. The deeds of these gifts stated, “Unto my said neighbors and inhabitants of Pawtuxet and others in the colony, as above said, to them and their heirs forever, for the use and benefit of settling a meeting house for the society of the Baptist Church for the propagating of the Christian Religion of Jesus Christ and the good of the neighbors and inhabitants of Pawtuxet.” With some slight modifications of boundary, our present church building now stands on those two lots of land. No records appear to exist as to the building of the first and original edifice other than the statement of “Having been erected in 1803”, quoted from “ An Account of the Churches of Rhode Island.”, published by George Whitney, Providence, 1854.

The Church is Duly Organized

    In 1805, it is written, the house was in need of repairs and an enlargement. At this time and before the necessary repairs and improvements were made, a group of twenty eight men, including twenty one descendants of the original settlers and bearing the names of Arnold, Rhodes, Smith and Aborn, banded together for the care of the property and petitioned the General Assembly in January 1805 for incorporation and received a charter in May of 1806. At the first legally authorized meeting James Rhodes, Esq., was elected President; William Holredge, Vice President; John A. Aborn, Treasurer and Benjamin M. Smith, Secretary. Immediately following the incorporation, the necessary repairs and improvements were made to all the old church edifice including an extension, vestibule, tower and bell. A year and a half then passed by before a definite action was taken to achieve a real church organization. This was accomplished by thirty four members of First Baptist Church of Providence who withdrew by letter from that church and united to form Pawtuxet Baptist Church, their action being approved by a Council of delegates convened on November 17, 1806 for that purpose. The new church was thus duly organized and adopted the Articles of Faith of the Second Church after the council met.

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Pawtuxet Village from the Church steeple 


    Appreciation should be accorded these God-fearing and intrepid disciples of the Master in those early days, those real pioneers of the Pawtuxet Baptist Church. Thus was born our church One hundred and Seventy-five years ago, shortly after the Revolutionary War and while this country of ours was still in its infancy.

Excerpts taken from “Historical Review of the Pawtuxet Baptist Church” by E.B. Pope, January 22, 1955.

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