History

CHURCH HISTORY

The history of Victoria Baptist Church is closely related to a small community of English and Irish factory workers who settled in the township around the early 1900’s. At one time the building, as it presently exists, was only one of three houses of worship in the township.

In 1897 the former Wallingford Mills was sold to the Silver Springs Plush Manufacturing Co. The new owners were John J. Turner and his brother, Arthur. They had left their homes in one of England’s smallest shires, Rutland, to settle in a part of Springfield known as Victoria Village, named for the beloved Queen Victoria. .

Early in its history John Turner and many other village residents felt the need for the strong Christian influence which only a church could provide. They secured a small building which had served as an election booth and converted it into the first sanctuary later to be called Victoria Union Chapel. Services were led by students from the Crozer Seminary then located in Upland, PA, and they received the sum of $2.50 per Sunday. With a church school program already in progress, The Rev. Warren Wilkins was installed as the first pastor in 1900. In the early years of our church, the average length of service for the pastor was approximately one (1) year or less until 1915, when the Rev. Charles S. Hamilton managed to lead the church for twenty (20) years. The length of service for each pastor increased after the end of World War II. The longer the pastor stayed, the more secure the membership grew.

Growing pains were soon to come so the mi Ladies of Victoria Mills” formed a Ladies Aid on March 1, 1900, to raise money for a new chapel. With the continuous increase in attendance at Sunday services and other weekday activities, it became necessary to build first one addition and then another to the original building. .

By 1910, the first steps were taken toward the erection of a permanent church facility. The Victoria Plush Mills gave these efforts a big boost by donating a’ piece of ground along the Baltimore Pike as well as stone for the proposed structure. On April 22, 1913, the Lansdowne Construction Company received the contract to build the church, and on June 29 of the same year, John J. Turner laid the cornerstone. The church was formally dedicated for use as a “House of God” on January 18, 1914.

This church became the worship center and community center ministering in various ways to villagers regardless of their former religious affiliations. This strong bond of different faiths led to the name Victoria Union Chapel, which was officially chartered on September 11, 1924, with thirty-four persons signed as charter members. On April 4, 1926, twenty-three more joined in full membership.

Since the chapel’s dedication many additions have been made to the sanctuary, including a full size pipe organ as well as many gifts of stained glass windows, which make this simple sanctuary one of the most beautiful in Delaware County :

In 1946, with the selling of the Victoria Plush Mills and its subsequent move to North Carolina, there were economic and social changes that would gradually bring changes to the life of the church. The mill homes were sold and many of the villagers moved in search of employment. The exodus of many young people signaled the end of the “village church” and the beginning of a broader community ministry. Facing the necessity to provide off-street parking, the congregation purchased a piece of ground with a stone garage building located next to the church building. Plans were also made to acquire a parsonage to assist their efforts toward attracting qualified pastoral leaders.

Though they served God well over these years as an independent congregation, there was a growing awareness of the advantages for future growth and service if aligned with a national denomination. In 1956, the church affiliated with the American Baptist Convention, now the American Baptist Churches, USA. It continues in that relationship, and with the American Baptist Churches of Pennsylvania and Delaware, and the Riverside Baptist Association. In April of 1982, the church merged with the former American Baptist Fellowship. In the late 1980s the parsonage was sold and a housing allowance established to enable the pastor to have a wider choice of housing and to establish a personal residence.

The church continues to be a strong Christian influence in a community which has undergone much change. It provides a place for family worship and religious education as well as adding its voice to those of others in the community and more widely through the Riverside Assoication. From a people with a strong faith in God, a vision of God’s will, a capacity for hard work, and a generous spirit, a church that¬† continues to serve and glorify our God. It’s ministry includes Children’s Church, Vacation Bible School, regular worship services, special worship services,¬† children’s activities, and a fine musical ministry