The small congregation to which the Baptist Temple traces its roots was the first church organization of any denomination in Logansport. On December 26, 1829, 4 me n and 3 women met to begin the process of organizing a Baptist Church. The name of the Eel River Baptist Church was adopted at a formal organization meeting on February 20, 1830. John Smith was recognized as the first pastor.
The first Board of Trustees was elected on April 29, 1847. Timothy Merritt and Adkins Nash were elected as the first Deacons on January 15, 1848.
The Baptist Female Benevolent Society of Logansport donated $114.00 toward the purchase of the lot for a permanent church building on January 15, 1848. On April 10, 1849 the necessary funds had been raised to purchase lot number 56, the churches present location. The log was purchased $475.00. A small frame building was erected, where the present Fellowship House now stands.
By 1868 the church building was erected and the Baptist Church at Logansport was now a member of the Wesaw Creek Regular Baptist Association and Dr. Tucker served as pastor. While Dr. Tucker served as pastor, the Baptist Church grew from 99 members to 272 members. Dr. Tucker also served as President of the State Convention. Also in 1868, nine times during his eleven years as minister, Dr. Tucker was elected moderator to the Association. In fact, it was at this time that the Wesaw Creek Baptist Association changed its name with one dissenting vote to the Baptist Association in recognition of its being the oldest church in Association.
The Reverend Herbert Lee Stetson was installed as minister in 1878. In 1885 Revered Stetson became the President of the Baptist Ministers’ Aid Society, which was organized in Logansport for the care of the aged and indigent ministers in a five state region. This society became part of the American Baptist Ministers and Missionaries Benefit Board at its organization in 1912.
After several declinations Reverend F. M. Huckleberry of Madison accepted the position of pastor beginning May 9, 1895. During the ten years of Reverend Huckleberry’s ministry in Logansport, the membership steadily increased from 247 in 1897 to 305 in 1905 and the debt on the parsonage was eliminated. It was said that during this pastorate the foundation was laid for the growth of the church such that the 1912 building could be erected. Reverend Huckleberry resigned October 8 1905.
On February 13, 1908 the legal name of the Second Baptist Church of Logansport was finally changed to the Logansport Baptist Church, after being the only Baptist church in Logansport for fifty-five years.
On July 5, 1910, a meeting of the men of the congregation recommended the erection of a new church building, which would be fully adequate for the needs of the growing congregation.
The last meeting to be held in the old red brick church building was on the evening of Tuesday, February 28, 1911, a date purposely chose to coincide with the eighty-fourth birthday of Elihu S. Rice, Chairman of the Board of Trustees and oldest member of the congregation at the time.
Soon after settling in Logansport, E. S. Rice became a member of the Baptist Church. For a period of over sixty consecutive years, Mr. Rice led the church music program. In 1866, he wrote the music to H. L. Hasting’s Hymn “Shall We Meet Beyond the River,” and the tune was named “Logansport.” He also published three songs in sheet form.
As Chairman of the Board of trustees of the Logansport Baptist Church, Elihu Rice had the honor of laying the cornerstone for the new building on July 16, 1911.
- S. Rice died on April 26, 1912 before the new building was complete. The first public service in the building was a memorial for him on Sunday May 19, 1912.
The services in dedication of the new church took place on Sunday, May 19, 1912; a congregation of 1200 worshippers was in attendance.
Before Christmas of 1912 the church had begun to take for itself the name of the Baptist Temple, presumably due to its Grecian style of architecture.
On January 27, 1927, the congregation extended a call to the Reverend James C. Hill. Hill began his work at Logansport, on March 20, 1927, with the distinction of being married to a woman who was also ordained. Some said that Reverend Ruth Hill preached better than her husband. The church decided to give a joint call to Reverend J. C. Hill and Reverend Ruth K. Hill, with a joint salary.
After several bleak years during the Great Depression the church fell, as the rest of the world, upon financially hard times.
March 18, 1938, Reverend Louis W. Bean was called to the ministry in Logansport. Gradually the financial problems of the church diminished and the building indebtedness, again, was fully paid off and celebrated a mortgage burning on May 3, 1942.
Sunday morning, December 5, 1943, marked what might have been the greatest catastrophe of the Logansport Baptist Church. A disastrous fire, which ultimately destroyed most of the interior of the church building and its contents, began with an over-heated smoke pipe just five minutes before Sunday school was to begin. The loss was estimated at $100,000 with insurance coverage at only $60,000.
Reconstructing the building using the four still standing walls was not an easy task in the middle of World War II. In July the congregation moved into the basement of their old church, and on the first Sunday of December 1945, two years after the fire, the new sanctuary was used for the first time.
Reverend Bean ministered from the new pulpit until his resignation on September 8, 1946. During his ministry, not only was the church rebuilt after the fire but also 400 people had become new members of the congregation.
New Year’s Day 1947 marked the beginning of a fifteen-year pastorate at Logansport for Reverend Monroe L. Robinson. During Dr. Robinson’s tenure here, four associates assisted him in this ministry. After his fifteen years with the Baptist Temple, Dr. M. L. Robinson chose to retire from the pastoral ministry, effective June 3 1962. At the congregational business meeting of May 19, 1963, the title of Pastor Emeritus was conferred on Reverend Robinson, the only pastor of the Baptist Temple so honored.
In 1908 the church had changed its name legally to the Logansport Baptist Church. The new edifice erected in 1912 had such an impressive frontal aspect with the four columns that instantly the building became known as the Baptist Temple, and unofficially the congregation took on that name as well.
At a business meeting on May 14, 1959, a unanimous choice of the congregation was to officially adopt the name the Baptist Temple.
January 1, 1964, marked the end of a ministry of over sixty years for Mr. Dan W. Erb, who had served the Baptist Temple as organist since 1903. He was eighty-six years old at the time of his retirement.
Miss Helen Beatty, having been a member of the church since 1909, was the one chosen to make the presentation to Mr. Erb. Miss Beatty had been more than just a member she had been Sunday School Superintendent of Missions, served as the church moderator during the financial difficulties of the 1930’s, was the faithful historian of the congregation, and been elected Honorary Deacon. In October of 1962, she joined twenty-two other Business and Professional Women of the American Baptist Convention for a mission tour of Puerto Rico and Haiti. At Cape Haitian, Haiti, Miss Beatty became acquainted with the college Pratique du Nord. Right away, Helen Beatty began sponsoring a Haitian seminarian. Through the influence, determination, energy and generosity of Helen Beatty, a chapel was built on the campus of the College Pratique du Nord and named in her honor. The Helen Beatty Chapel was dedicated January 23, 1966. After her last trip, when she was eighty-two years old, the Baptist Temple celebrated Helen Beatty Night in her honor.
After Miss Beatty’s death in 1979, in accordance with her will, the Helen C. Beatty Memorial Scholarship Fund was established. The interest has been used to help the Baptist Temple youth attend conferences at the American Baptist Assembly at Green Lake, Wisconsin and the Indiana Baptist camps.
Reverend Clyde Mayfield was instrumental in organizing three significant interchurch ministries in Logansport while pastor. The Pastoral Counseling Center was begun in 1965. From the beginning its home was in the Fellowship House, until 1982 when its offices were moved to the Ninth Street Christian Church. In 1970, Cass Country Churches United was formed, with Reverend Mayfield serving as its first President. The Department of Pastoral Care, a volunteer chaplaincy service was developed at Memorial Hospital in 1973, and Reverend Mayfield was its first Director.
At the Annual Planning Session at Spencer Park, on June 13, 1982, Dr. E. Clyde Mayfield announced his intention to resign effective August 15, 1982, which was the twentieth anniversary of the day that Dr. Mayfield had come to the Baptist Temple.