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First Baptist Meetinghouse in Potsdam. Photos:
First Baptist Meetinghouse in Potsdam. Photos:

Potsdam Baptist church closes doors after 188 years

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After 188 years, the First Baptist church in Potsdam has voted to close. The remaining members gathered for their final services this weekend. A congregation of thirteen founded the little American Baptist church in 1824. Nora Flaherty has the details on the dissolution of the tiny church.

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Nora Flaherty
Digital Editor, News

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Membership in First Baptist had grown over the decades, but by last year the church was down to only ten people.

Its bank balance was dwindling as well. Trustee Cherie Baker says with members getting older and tough economic times continuing, the church had a decision to make.

Without continuing support, you have to evaluate whether the best steward of the money is to spend it until it’s gone. We had to figure out what the best thing to do for our area, which was a restart.

That means the church is shutting down, selling the Victorian house in the village of Potsdam where it’s met since 1971, and giving its assets to American Baptist Churches of New York State.

Church members are hoping the money will be used to start another American Baptist church in the Potsdam area—although under the organization’s rules that church can’t have the same pastor or trustees.

Reverend Joanna Luockey–Ramsey was the Pastor at First Baptist. She says the decision to dissolve was a tough one.

It’s been a long process, and you always have mixed feelings. But we’re looking at this as another step in our adventure with God.

It’s not guaranteed another American Baptist church will open in Potsdam anytime soon—but there are others in Ogdensburg, North Bangor and Malone. First Baptist will hold a final celebration of its history, on January 22nd.

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