Early in the 1930s, with sawdust on the ground and wooden benches, many flocked to a big tent meeting in Hessville. Out of this meeting, a small group of believers desired to start a Sunday school. With assistance from First Baptist Church of Hammond, a Sunday school was organized and flourished. Soon it was decided that a church should be formed. A vacant store on Kennedy Avenue served as the first meeting place in fall of 1934.
Feeling the need of association with a separated, fundamental group, the church voted to become a part of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches on May 24, 1939.
After years of praying, in the spring of 1941, two lots on Arizona Avenue were purchased. An old schoolhouse was purchased and dismantled, and then reassembled on the church property on top of the basement excavated by the men of the church. The first services were held in the building on Christmas Day 1941.
The church voted to buy the property at 3034 Crane Pl. in March of 1946 to serve as a Parsonage. On April 26 of that same year, a fire burned the newly remodeled Church building, which was almost a total loss. With limited resources to rebuild, services were held in the gymnasium of the Harding School until opposition forced them to return to the burned-out church building. A building program began in the fall. The basement was enlarged and a temporary roof installed with the belief that God would supply the need.
On March 22, 1950, plans for a new Parsonage to be built on the lot next to the church were approved. The north side of the church was extended for additional classrooms and a garage, during the same period. With funds from the sale of the Parsonage on Crane Place, the men of the church began to build the new Parsonage in June of 1951. Their diligence and hard work produced a completed home by the Fall.
Voting to complete the church building on April 14, 1954, construction starting next month. Once again, the men of the church banded together to assist in the project. In October, the church’s 20th year, the building was complete. The church then enjoyed a period of great growth and development.
By October of 1960, it was necessary to consider new building plans for a larger sanctuary with more rooms and better Sunday school facilities. Construction began in 1963 with completion in June of 1964.
Like most Churches, there have been the blessings and challenges which come with ministry for the Lord. The church has been blessed of God with many fine and faithful men who served as pastors. Young people, raised in the church, have gone on to serve the Lord in capacities from pastorate to missionary. The Hessville Baptist Church has continued to give forth God’s Holy Word since the day of its founding. With a strong desire to reach the lost of the community and the whole world, and encourage the believer, HBC is a place where Christian brothers and sisters are growing together in Christ.
Adapted from History of Hessville Baptist Church – “The Sawdust Trail”