Our History

Church circa 1870

The revival fires of the Second Great Awakening were still burning in 1826, when Benjamin Knight of Salem began holding services in a small schoolhouse in Beverly Farms. “His labors were greatly blessed and souls were converted,” according to church records. The group started as a Sunday school, became an official church in 1829, and ordained Mr. Knight. In 1830, the congregation built and moved into its first building. The cost was $1,590.
Four years later, the Farms church broke away from its sponsoring church, the First Parish of Beverly, amid the rise of Unitarianism, and was renamed the Second Calvinist Baptist Church of Beverly. The dedication sermon on Aug. 31, 1834, was “Jesus Christ, the chief cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:19-20). The church began to emphasize believer’s baptism, closed communion, monthly “concerts of prayer” for “missions,” “the sabbath school cause,” and “the benefit of seamen.”

For 75 years, the church was guided by pastors who balanced the spiritual and financial needs of the church, often through spiritual droughts and economic recessions. High points of the first 75 years include:

  • 1835-36 Addition of 50 members, 46 by baptism.
  • 1842-44 Baptisms of 24, 17, 5 people. (Rev. Sumner Hale).
  • 1843 New building of 44 by 62 feet, 23 feet high; with bell and spire; $4,855; membership at 126.
  • 1850 “Meetings of inquiry” lead to 70 “hopeful subjects of divine grace,” mostly all youth (Rev. Charles W. Reding).
  • 1877 Revival leads to 36 baptisms.
  • 1887 20 young people dedicate their lives; eight seekers request baptism. (Rev. T. Richard Peede).
  • 1891 $9,219 expansion lengthens meeting house and adds “wings.” (Rev. E.P. Hoyt).

When the church called the Rev. Clarence Strong Pond in 1903, it was in part because of his ability to relate to young people, and a year later nine youth professed faith through baptism. But over the next 35 years, Pond abandoned orthodoxy in favor of Unitarianism; he refused to perform baptisms and communion services, and removed the communion silver from the sanctuary. His successor, Rev. Leon G. Miles, a Christian Scientist, took down a picture of the Last Supper. What spiritual direction there was came from the Board of Deacons, who kept the gospel witness alive through sponsoring occasional guest speakers and prayer. By 1938, months before Rev. Pond died, only 15 people were attending Sunday morning services, and those numbers changed little over Rev. Miles’ 10-year pastorate.

In 1950, the church called its first evangelical pastor in 50 years: Millard Fraumann (1950-1953); he was succeeded by Lloyd M. Perry and William Nigel Kerr. Each of the pastors since has stayed longer than his predecessor: Donald J. Ryder, Wayne Hill, Rich Schoenert, and Mark Coleman. The past 50 years has been marked by a strong pulpit ministry, an increasing involvement in world missions, a growing congregation, the 1972 merger with Wenham Neck Baptist Church, and four capital campaigns:
1957 Addition of two new classrooms, a kitchen, and pastor’s study.
1980 Purchase of property next door, and addition of education wing.
1996 Purchase of half-acre behind church; parsonage becomes hospitality house.
2001 Construction of larger parking lot.

North Shore Community Baptist Church has an amazing heritage. Founded as a missionary church, we now send money and members all over the world. Dedicated to reaching youth from the start, we now have Sunday school classes, youth ministries, and adult Bible studies for all ages. And, despite a 50-year period of wandering in a spiritual desert, the communion silver is back on the altar, and Jesus Christ is once again our chief cornerstone. We are grateful to God and to the faithful men and women who have gone before us.