Twelve local families, led by Reverend William R. Hayden with the cooperation of the Columbus Baptist Association and the Ohio Baptist Convention, organized the American Baptist Church of Westerville in 1967. The church was chartered in October 1968 and Reverend Gordon Danielson was called as the first pastor.
Worship services were initially held at the Masonic Temple in Westerville. The church continued to grow as “mission families” from local American Baptist churches were enlisted to serve one-year terms to assist with the church development and growth. In 1975, the Columbus Baptist Association purchased 4.3 acres on the hill that is now 401 E. Schrock Road in Westerville. The ground breaking for the new church was held on June 7, 1975 and the facility was dedicated on December 7, 1975. The site of the church was in the woods on top of Oak Hill, the highest point in the city of Westerville. Prior to the completion of the church, day camps were held on the site. These included tents and camp files. These continued until one campfire destroyed the entire day camp. Baptisms were held at East Baptist Church or other area churches until the baptistery was added April 1986.
Reverend Danielson served as pastor until his resignation in October 1971. Reverend Eugene Bell was called as pastor in September 1972 and served until he was asked to leave in March 1977. Reverend Ralph Gordon was called to serve as interim pastor in August 1977 and, in December 1977, was called as full-time pastor. As Moderator Nola Eynon wrote in her year-end 1977 report, “…Many hard decisions were to be made in early 1977, and with the help of the Lord, we faced them and acted accordingly as we felt we were directed…It was in August that we enlisted the services of Reverend Ralph Gordon, as interim pastor. It was like touching a match to a well-laid fire – sparks flew and the whole place became aglow. One of the best signs of the changes that have been wrought is the necessity of adding 50 chairs to the sanctuary”.
The cost of the original church building was $85,000. The loan of the original building was paid in full in 1998. In 1997, the church decided to engage into a building expansion program to include a new sanctuary, fellowship hall and the remodeling of the existing facility for offices, restrooms and a new kitchen at a cost of $525,000. After many years of fund raising, the church broke ground on the church extension on November 10, 2002. Because the remodeling could not begin until the extension was completed, the dedication of the new facility did not occur for another two years and was held on November 7, 2004. With the additional space, the church now has the facilities for more elaborate dramas and music ministries, larger weddings and banquets, additional classes, and multiple meeting spaces. In addition, trees and brush have been removed so that the church with its beautiful new stained glass windows can be seen from Schrock Road.
Pastor Gordon continued to pastor the church until his retirement in May 2006 after 29+ years of service. Reverend Mark Farmer joined us as pastor in April 2007. Pastor Mark and his wife Jean served as missionaries to France for over 20 years where they planted two new churches and Mark served as pastor for a church in Paris. They returned to their hometown of Worthington, OH in 2005. ABC Westerville looks forward to the leadership of this skilled evangelical team!