ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin


First Baptist Church


Founded in 1882

311 South Fifth St

1602 East Main St. since 1985




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Street view of this location  


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1958       PARSONAGE, Rev. Laurence Prast

      1509 S. Tenth



The First Baptist Church of Watertown is celebrating its 100th anniversary.  Centennial events are planned for Sept. 19 and 26 with special worship services and programs taking place on both Sundays.


The First Baptist Church of Watertown began as a mission of the rural Lebanon Baptist Church in 1854.  From 1854-1874 services, under the auspices of the Lebanon Church and the leadership of its pastors, were held in schools and halls until the erection of a building at 210-212 Division Street.


Cross Reference:

Home at 210-212 Division shows architectural detail of former church at this location.

Built in 1874.             Click above to enlarge


On July 3, 1882 the local group of Baptists organized and became an independent church no longer under the jurisdiction of the Lebanon Baptist congregation forming “Die Erste Deutsche Baptisten Gemeinde” in Watertown. The new church began with 32 charter members. On July 6,1882 the new congregation was incorporated in compliance with the statutes of the state of Wisconsin. All organizational ties with the Lebanon Baptist Church were severed on April 10,1883.


From its founding in 1882, the church has been served by 20 pastors. The first pastor of the new congregation was Rev. Louis Glaser, a former pastor of the Lebanon Baptist Church. Probably the best known of the pastors was the Rev Carl J. Bender, a former pioneer missionary to Cameroon, Africa. After a pastorate of four years, Pastor Bender returned to Cameroon where he died.


Several major events stand out in the history of the church. On June 28, 1926 the congregation purchased the present church property and made plans for a new building which was then dedicated on May 20,1928. In April 1945 the church became self-supporting after having relied on mission support from the North American Baptist Conference for 63 years.  On Dec. 12,1953 the mortgage to the Roundy Fund was paid in full on the current building.


In the near future, the congregation is planning to construct a new building that will more adequately serve the needs of its members. Initial plans and fund raising for the new structure are currently underway.


The church has maintained an active Sunday school since 1882, an active youth organization since 1884, and an active women’s group since 1903.


The theme for this Sunday’s celebration is “Thus Far Has the Lord Helped Us” (I Samuel 7:12b). The Rev. Dr. John Binder, executive director of the North American Baptist Conference, is the guest speaker for the morning worship service. Assisting in the morning worship service will be the Rev. Richard Rabenhorst, a missionary to Brazil and a son of the church, and the Rev. Paul Meister, a former pastor presently serving as pastor of the Pilgrim Baptist Church in Philadelphia, Penn.


On Sept. 26, the second Sunday of the centennial celebration, the theme will be “Our Hope for Years to Come.” The Rev. Connie Salios will present the morning message. Rev. Salios is the director of stewardship and communications of the North American Baptist Conference. Assisting in the morning worship service will be the Rev. Ron Norman, pastor of the Village Green Baptist Church, Glen Ellyn, 111. and a son of the church; and the Rev. Jothan Benke, a former pastor presently serving as associate chaplain and director of development at Central Baptist Home in Norridge, IL.


Sunday school for all ages will be held- at the First Baptist Church at 9 a.m.; the special morning centennial worship service will begin at 10 a.m. At 12 o’clock on both Sundays a dinner will be served in the fellowship hall of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church followed at 1 p.m. with an informal program at the same location.


All members and friends of the church are invited to attend the centennial celebration.



Watertown Daily Times, 07 18 1984


The Watertown Plan Commission Tuesday approved the issuance of a conditional use permit to the First Baptist Church which allows the congregation to construct a new facility near the eastern city limits.  The church will be constructed on one of four lots being proposed at 1602 East Main Street.  A three-family apartment complex is currently on one of the lots with the other three parcels undeveloped.  The new church will be built on the most northern parcel.


Street view of this location.  




First Baptist Church is celebrating 140 years as a congregation.  Join us in praising God for His faithfulness to us at 10 am on Sunday, July 3, 2022.  A picnic celebration will follow the service.  All are welcome!

First Baptist Church

160 Oakridge Court

Watertown, WI 53094-4100

Phone: (920) 261-3970




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History of Watertown, Wisconsin