Baptists and the American Civil War: July 6, 1862

North Lyme Baptist Church, Lyme, Connecticut

North Lyme Baptist Church, Lyme, Connecticut

In the North, home to few battlefield clashes, church activity is less affected by the war. Today, the North Lyme Baptist Church (also known as the North Baptist Church) of Lyme, Connecticut dedicates a new meeting house.

The town of Lyme was founded in 1665, while the North Lyme Baptist Church had been established in 1800 or 1810 (sources differ). In 1840 the church’s steeple had been removed, for fear it might fall down due to structural problems. And earlier this year, the congregation had engaged in a discussion of whether to “renovate or build.”

Deciding to build, the congregation employed a contractor for $1,100 to build a new church, with instructions to use material from the old church building, whenever possible. The old meeting house is thus carefully disassembled, with the help of church members.

As noted in a  history of the church, “The whole expense for the house and furnishings was $1,495.29, of which sum the ladies contributed $315.00.”

Members are grateful to God today as they dedicate the new meeting house. The financial contribution of the church’s ladies to the construction costs is not atypical: since the 1830s, ladies societies in northern Baptist churches have grown increasingly proactive in the life of local congregations.

A new steeple adorns the new meeting house, but stands empty until 1871 when a 945-pound bell is purchased and installed, at a cost of $397.20.

The Civil War era church building is purchased by the city of Lyme in 1932, and now is utilized as Lyme’s Town Hall. The bell remains in the building’s steeple.

Sources: “Lyme Town Campus Center,” including image from the Lyme Local History Archives (link) and (link); J. G. Ward, “The History of the North Lyme Baptist Church” (see the prior link for more information about this pamphlet); D. Hamilton Hurd, ed., History of New London County, Connecticut, Philadelphia: J. W. Lewis, 1882, p. 541 (link); about Lyme, Connecticut (link)