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First Baptist Church, Muncie, Indiana records

Identifier: MSS-081

Scope and Contents

This collection contains organizational records from the First Baptist Church of Muncie, Indiana ranging from 1859 to 2014. The paper portion of collection primarily consists of photocopies of original volumes that were retained by the church. The photocopies are organized by volume, as they appear in the original records, and include correspondence, annual reports, membership records, board meeting minutes and reports, women's department records, church histories, newsletters, directories, a bulletin, and other printed material. The digital portion of the collection consists of digital reproductions of original records including architectural drawings, construction records, newsletters, pastor records, and photographs.


  • 1859-2014

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Archives and Special Collections, Ball State University Libraries, Muncie, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Archives and Special Collections.

Administrative History

On September 10, 1859, an Ecclesiastical Council of ministers and delegates met at the court house in Muncie, Indiana, to consider organizing a regular Baptist church. The church was formally organized the next day, Sunday, September 11, 1859, with twelve constituent members. For almost three years thereafter, services were held in the courthouse. The Reverend G. Williams served as the first pastor until October 1861.

The congregation resolved on January 12, 1861, to build a church building (a frame structure of brick, 48 by 34 feet) on the northeast corner of Jackson and Jefferson streets. The Reverend Silas Bailey, President of Franklin College, dedicated the new building on June 8, 1862. The church had only part time pastors or no pastor over extended periods of time during the 1870s. Nevertheless, church members continued to conduct regular business meetings and to keep records of those meetings. The Reverend Smith Goodin joined the church during the pastorate of N. B. Rairden. Goodin served as church clerk from 1882 to 1895.He also wrote a history of the church in 1889.

During the 1860s and the 1870s the church struggled with political differences (an outgrowth of the Civil War) and financial difficulties. The church was supported financially by the American Baptist Home Mission Society during its early years. As the church grew it became self-supporting and, in 1889, the church constructed a new building of brick at the southwest corner of Charles and Jefferson streets.

One of the largest periods of growth took place during the pastorate of the Reverend C. M. Carter. Carter became pastor in 1897, and during his twelve years of service (one of the longest protestant pastorates in the history of Muncie) over 700 new members joined the church.

The Reverend William A. Waldo succeeded Carter as full time pastor in 1910, and served until 1913. Mrs. Waldo was active with the women's work of the church and under her direction the two women's organizations, the Woman's Missionary Society and the Ladies Aid Society, merged into one group, the Woman's Society.

In March 1921, Dr. William G. Everson became pastor. During his pastorate Nettie Cochran became the full time church secretary in 1922. She had served as church clerk since 1915 and would resign her position as secretary November 1, 1931. Miss Cochran kept thorough records of church meetings, services, and correspondence.

According to the 1979 church history, Dr. Everson "envisioned the erection of a beautiful Baptist temple of enduring stone," and so during the mid-1920s he began planning for the building's construction. The new building, which stands at the corner of Adams and Jefferson, was completed in 1929, at the cost of $338,000. The church history states that "although Dr. Everson had put into operation a program of giving and pledging which, under normal conditions, would have adequately cared for all financial obligations connected with the building, neither he nor the congregation could foresee, the dark days of the depression into which the nation was entering."

Due to the depression, the church's income decreased. The church was unable to make payments on its mortgage and in 1938 the church property was sold under foreclosure proceedings.

Dr. J. Marion Smith became pastor in December 1938. Dr. Smith began a fund-raising program in 1939 in order to re-purchase the church property. On September 10, 1939, the title was reassigned to the church. In 1943 the church decided to raise the money to pay off the debt and in 1944 a mortgage-burning ceremony was held.

Dr. Louis B. Matthews filled the pulpit as interim pastor after Dr. Smith resigned in 1946. During his interim, Mrs. John Harris became full time clerk secretary. From 1946 to 1951, Dr. Lewis Emmerson Maples served as full time pastor. During Maples' pastorate, the church began publishing The Visitor in January, 1947.

Sources: Commemorative History Centennial Anniversary 1859-1959 (First Baptist Church: Muncie, Indiana. 1959). First Baptist Church Celebrating 50 Years at Adams and Jefferson (First Baptist Church: Muncie, Indiana, 1979)

Historical Note

Note that the church's fiscal year has changed at least three times during its history. The records indicate that the church operated on a calendar year from 1904 to 1916, changed to an October 1 to September 30 fiscal year in 1917, changed again to a May 1 to April 30 fiscal year in 1925, and returned to a calendar year in 1956.


1.2 Cubic Feet (4 boxes; digital records (537 GB; 15,037 files; 2,184 folders))

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged in the following series:

Series 1: General church records, 1859-1952

Series 2: Church histories and printed material, 1902-1979

Series 3: Digital records, circa 1870-2014

Series 4: First Baptist Church panoramic photograph, undated

Series 5: First Baptist Church, Muncie, Indiana website archive, 2018-

Custodial History

This collection was received by Archives and Special Collections as a donation by Dr. William Eidson in 1986.


No further additions are expected.

Existence and Location of Originals

Original records were either photocopied or digitized and then returned to the donor.

Existence and Location of Copies

Select materials from this collection have been digitized and are available online in the Ball State University Libraries Digital Media Repository:

Processing Information

Collection processing completed 1986/08/18 by B.J.P. Miller. EAD finding aid created 2012/10/04 by Julie Hausknecht. EAD finding aid modified 2013/10/28 by Rebecca Marangelli and 2016/03/11 by Brandon Pieczko.

First Baptist Church, Muncie, Indiana records
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Repository Details

Part of the Stoeckel Archives of Local History Repository

Alexander M. Bracken Library
2000 W. University Avenue
Muncie Indiana 47306 USA