History

 

 

 

Temple Baptist Church traces its roots back to early settlers who traveled down the Erie Canal and bringing the Gospel with them. In 1847 The Ohio Baptist Convention, headquartered in Chillicothe desired to begin a work in Portsmouth. The church organized in the home of Mr. D. D. Jones on January 19, 1850 as the First Baptist Temple Church. A charter was granted to the church by the Ohio Legislature on March 20, 1850. The first building was dedicated on March 20, 1859. In 1909 the congregation moved to recently purchased property on the southwest corner where Gallia and Waller Streets intersect. The original temporary structure was referred to as "The Tabernacle with a sawdust floor." The original permanent structure was completed in 1916. This building was destroyed by fire shortly after the conclusion of the morning worship service on December 27, 1925.

After the destruction of their meeting place, the congregation met for a time in the Auditorium of Portsmouth High School.  Under the Pastoral leadership of Dr. Stuart Tillis a new building was finished and occupied in 1928. The design reflected the effort to ensure the building would resist destruction by fire. Bank officers requested a flexible design be used. In the event of financial reversal they would have a marketable property.

In 1929, The Great Depression gripped the nation and the congregation defaulted on its loan. At the time, it was considered to be the largest church in town with an extended membership roll numbering approximately 1200. During the early 1930's  the building remained unsold and the church met in other locations. In 1937 the Ohio River flooded and water crested at the top of the pulpit of the church sanctuary. As times got better the church made an offer to the bank to restructure their debt and was able regain the building and reorganize under the name of Temple Baptist Church under the Pastoral leadership of Rev. H.O. VanGilder, who served until 1944 when he left to become the first National Representative for the newly formed General Association of Regular Baptist Churches. The Church continued to grow through the WWII years and become debt free in 1945.

In 1976 the church began Temple Time and a Pre-school known as Temple Tots which continue to the present.

Thirty men have served as Pastor of Temple Baptist Church. In 1984 the church called Rev. John Gowdy, who was their Youth Pastor and Visitation Pastor, to serve as pastor. Pastor Gowdy grew up in Portsmouth and in Temple Baptist Church. In June of 2009 Temple Baptist celebrated the 25th anniversary of John & Leigh Gowdy's ministry as Senior Pastor & First Lady. A number of building renovations and remodeling has been completed in recent years.  These included the addition of an elevator.

In 1990 Temple Baptist came to the aid of nearby First Missionary Baptist Church of Eden Park, Ohio.  That ministry was in the process of closing. Through Temple, new leadership was put in place and the Lord again honored His Word.  This church is once again serving as lighthouse for the gospel and has become self-supporting under the name of Shawnee Hills Baptist Church. In 1997 the church opened a crisis pregnancy ministry called "Cradle" to continue the mission of sharing Christ's love in the Portsmouth area. Temple Baptist continues to have a world-wide outlook through the dedication of missionaries who carry the message of Christ.

In 2008 Temple Baptist added several new ministries! These ministries include LifeLine College Ministry on Tuesday evenings at 8:00 p.m., a new radio ministry by Pastor John Gowdy called "The Passagethat can be heard on Thursday evenings at 7:30 p.m. on CRD Radio (88.3 FM in Portsmouth) or on www.thepath.fm - They also formed a new Health Ministry. In order to stay up-to-date, Temple Baptist added new Audio/Video equipment to their sanctuary. This equipment included two video screens, two projectors, and three plasma TV's. On June 24, 2009 Temple Baptist held a congregational vote and made the call to Aaron & Alicia Hedges to join the staff as new Youth Pastor and they accepted. Remodeling and painting also took place at the church parsonage located on Carol Drive in Portsmouth. We are excited to see what God has planned for Temple Baptist Church during 2010!