Newport Baptist Church
NEWPORT-The Newport Baptist Church, 255 Greene St., was built little by little over the years.
During its formation in 1822, the church had eight members, which Pastor Doug Brown said didn’t meet in a church building at first.
“In between 1822 and 1838, they met in homes and met in various places,” said Brown. “The very front part of the church was built in 1838.”
Brown said Newport’s history coincides with the church’s history.
“The Greens and Danas, names associated with Newport are in some way connected with the church,” Brown said. “The Green family gave the property for the church. They helped to get it started.”
Brown said there is one important historical factor about the church.
“We still have the original bell; it is really cool,” he said. “There were two shipping companies in the area and it was made known the church was looking for a bell. They wanted to get it from Cincinnati, but needed a way to get it here.”
Long-time church member Dave Riggs, 75, of Newport, said the bell was shipped in a unique way.
“The bell was transported by river boat,” he said.
Brown added that Courier and Diurnal were the two companies competing to ship the bell.
“The two shipping companies had a contest; whoever raised the most money could go get (the bell),” he said. “They raised the money to buy the bell and transport it. One company was just short of the other and they said, ‘You didn’t tell us what time we had to have it by,’ so they raised some more money. They ended up getting really close, so one company went the whole way (and got the bell), the other went halfway (and brought the bell back to Newport); they both transported the bell.”
Pat Riggs, 75, of Newport, said the bell cost about $238.
“Back then, that was a lot of money,” she said.
She said the church has changed not only in looks outside, but inside, too.
“They’ve changed the steeple,” Riggs said. “Woodpeckers got in there and they had to fix that. They redid the whole church outside…Central air and heating was put in, new pews and new windows, and the annex was built in the 1960s.”
Brown said when the heating and air went in, some digging was involved to get everything to fit.
“The original part of the building was set in sandstone,” he said. “There was no modern ductwork. They went under the steps, where the altar is now and dug sand out so they could get the ductwork in there.”
Pat said until the 1960s the church was one of three, including Lawrence and Deucher, that shared a pastor, but soon each church had its own full-time pastor.
Brown said there are a couple things that make Newport Baptist unique to other churches.
“We are one of very few Baptist churches that still has an evening Sunday service, at 7 p.m.,” he said, adding, “Everybody’s related. When a family member graduates or goes on to another job or whatever, they have a really strong tie here. We still have communications with them…and (they) want to (stay) affiliated with the church…We truly are a family church.”