Community Free Will Baptist History

West Jefferson Original Free Will Baptist Church later becoming West Jefferson Free Will Baptist Church is known today as Community Free Will Baptist Church. Community started worship services in October 1959 in rented rooms and homes of members, then several tent revivals in West Jefferson in the October 1959. Later recognized as an official not for profit company under the rules of incorporation as mentioned in the Ohio Revised Code, on April 13, 1960.

The members elected to purchase land from then pastor Rev. C. A. and Ollie Newman whom served as the first Pastor of the church. Even though Community was founded and land was purchased the church couldn’t have been built without prayer and the help of a Deacon  Leo Young, whom used his personal residence as collateral to build the initial section of the church, which is known today as the Fellowship Hall.  In the early 1970’s the church outgrew the initial building and needed a larger sanctuary.  

The Community Free Will Baptist Church attendance continues to thrive and the church offers a wide variety of programs and services which wins souls for Christ.

Free Will Baptist History

The Free Will Baptist denomination is a fellowship of evangelical believers united in extending the witness of Christ and the building of His Church throughout the world. The rise of Free Will Baptists can be traced to the influence of Baptists of Armenian persuasion who settled in the colonies from England. The denomination sprang up on two fronts at almost the same time.  

The southern line, or Palmer movement, traces its beginnings to the year 1727 when one Paul Palmer organized a church at Chowan, North Carolina. Palmer had previously ministered in New Jersey and Maryland, having been baptized in a congregation which had moved from Wales to a tract on the Delaware River in northern Pennsylvania.          

The Northern line, or Randall movement, had its beginnings with a congregation organized by Benjamin Randall June 30, 1780, in New Durham, New Hampshire. Both lines of Free Will Baptists taught the doctrines of free grace, free salvation, and free will, although from the first there was no organizational connection between them. The Northern line expanded more rapidly in the beginning and extended its outreach into the West and Southwest.  

In 1910-1911 this body of Free Will Baptists merged with the Northern Baptist denomination, taking along more than half its 1,100 churches and all denominational property, including several major colleges. On December 28, 1916, at Pattonsburg, Missouri, representatives of remnant churches in the Randall movement reorganized into the Cooperative General Association of Free Will Baptists. Free Will Baptists in the Southeastern United States, having descended from the Palmer foundation, had often manifested fraternal relationships with Free Will Baptists of the Randall movement in the north and west; but the slavery question and the Civil War prevented formal union between them.           

The churches in the southern line were organized into various associations and conferences from the beginning, and had finally organized into a General Conference by 1921. These congregations were not affected by the merger of the Northern movement with the Northern Baptists. Now that the remnants of the Randall movement had reorganized into the Cooperative General Association and the Palmer movement had organized into the General Conference, it was inevitable that fusion between these two groups of Free Will Baptists would finally come.  

In Nashville, Tennessee, on November 5, 1935 representatives of these two groups met and organized the National Association of Free Will Baptists. This body adopted a treatise which set forth the basic doctrines and described the faith and practice that had characterized Free Will Baptists through the years. Having been revised on several occasions, it serves as a guideline for a denominational fellowship which comprises more than 2,400 churches in 42 states and 14 foreign countries.