Welcome to Baldwin's first church...
First Church Baldwin has shared in the growth of the Methodist Church in America almost from its inception. We are one of the oldest living Methodist congregations in America.
In 1810 a local farmer, Christian Snedeker (who was an ardent member of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Hempstead), felt the need for Christian work in this community. Snedeker conducted the first religious classes in an old one-room building (approx. 20' x 50') on his father's farm, located near St. Luke's Place and Grand Avenue. A stone marker currently designates the site. The building later became know as Bethel Chapel, Baldwin's first church. This Methodist house of worship later served as the first schoolhouse, and gave the area one of its numerous names, Bethel.
Itinerant preachers from the Long Island circuit ("circuit riders") brought the word of God and nurtured the Methodists who regularly met at Bethel Chapel. The first trustees of the church were elected in 1839.
It was William K. Stofford, one of the circuit riders, who inspired the congregation to consolidate the Hicks Neck group of South Baldwin and the Bethel group of North Baldwin. They laid plans to for a new church to be built on the south side of Merrick Road. The new church, under the pastorate of Seymour Langdon, was formally dedicated in May of 1844. It was a simple building with two doors – one for men, and another for women.
Because of the growth of the congregation and overcrowding of the sanctuary, Francis Baldwin (after whom Baldwin is reputed to have been named) donated the land on the north side of Merrick Road where our church stands today. Jane Snedeker Sprague solicited over $7,000 in pledges for its construction.
In 1871 the cornerstone was laid, and construction completed by Lorenzo D. Smith. Our current sanctuary was dedicated in 1872 during the ministry of Rev. Nathan Hubbel, our first full-time preacher.
The spire, hand-built by the ancestors of current members, was a South Shore landmark often used as a beacon by ships at sea.
We honor all those who have dedicated their lives to our church, and are grateful to those who today are building the church of tomorrow.