The congregation of Aylmer Baptist has been a witness to the community of Aylmer and we have been witnessing in our community for nearly 200 years. Founded in 1816, we are one of the oldest churches in the area. The church was founded by Rev. Reuben Crandell, the first Baptist minister to be ordained in Upper Canada, what is now called Ontario. When he left us, the congregation numbered 30 members.
In the early days, services were held in homes and barns near Orwell at Roger’s Corner. It was also in this area of early meeting where our pioneer cemetery can be found. We continued to worship here until 1843 when a new chapel was built at the corner of Pine Street and John Street, in Aylmer.
Our present structure was not built until 1870/1871. It was built under the pastorship of Rev. Dr. T. L. Davidson. The estimated cost of the church building was $16,000 which included a $1,000 organ and a $400 bell.
One highpoint over our years was reached between 1901 and 1903, under a great preaching pastor, named Rev. Dr. J. Vining, who built up the congregation to 1,100 people in a building built to accommodate 750. The two black and white pictures show how the church looked in 1902 during Rev. Dr. Vining’s pastorship.
Tragedy struck on 12 July 1950, when a fire destroyed the church. The entire building looked like that of a bombed out cathedral from WWII, and, following the fire, only the walls and the tower remained. Even the bell in the tower came crashing down. The church was rebuilt at a cost of $138,000. $74,000 was raised by the congregation and $64,000 came from insurance. The bell in the tower would ring again though, a symbol of Baptist resilience.
In October 2014, Aylmer Baptist Church celebrated 198 years of ministry in the East Elgin area!