History

Our church was founded November 1, 1745 in Cranbury, NJ. Our mother church is in Middletown, NJ. The Middletown Baptist Church (now called the Old First Church) is the oldest in NJ and was founded in 1688. We were the seventh Baptist church founded in New Jersey. John and Mary Hight were two of the seventeen founders of our church and also of Hightstown, which was founded in 1721. The church moved to Hightstown in 1785. The present edifice was built 1857-1858 and dedicated in February of 1858. The seating capacity of the church with balcony is 400.

In January 1864 what is now Peddie School was founded in the old brick building known as the Hightstown Female Seminary. The original trustees of Peddie were of this church. Our church is also the mother church of eight other churches; Mt. Olivet, also in Hightstown, is one of them.

Eaches Chapel replaced the original brick building in Hightstown and was dedicated the first Sunday of October, 1926 in honor of Owen P. Eaches who was the pastor of FBC for 42 years. Reverend Powell Norton was the minister who raised the funds and oversaw the building of Eaches Chapel. It was designed by Thomas Applegate, Sr. and built by Willis R. Hancock, Sr.

The stone wall in front of and beside our church was installed in 1891. The stained glass windows were a gift from Mrs. Mary Middleton and were installed in 1883. Our stoves for heat were discarded in 1891 and the present heaters were put in. Electric lights were added in 1901. In 1836 our pews were numbered and rented as a means for church revenue and continued until 1890 when the pews became free and members began using the envelope system for church giving.

The first baptistery was installed under the current pulpit in 1886. The present one was installed in 1901. Prior to 1886, baptisms were held in the Mill Pond at the rear of the church, now called Peddie Lake. The original steeple was erected in 1857 but was struck by lightning on the evening of June 12, 1911 during a Peddie School program. A second steeple was erected in 1912 but was condemned in 1954 after engineers discovered a weakened structure due to the swinging of the large church bell. The present steeple was built in 1956 and houses the original church bell which is now on a hammer system to chime the hour. The steeple clock was the property of the borough of Hightstown (but was recently transferred to the church) and was originally placed with the building of the original steeple. It has continued to move with new steeples and is still an active part of our edifice. The original wooden hands are currently housed at the Hightstown Historical Society. The church also had a cemetery which was closed and moved to the Cedar Hill Cemetery in 1926 when a parking lot was paved.

The Church has had 25 pastors in its 267 years. From Rev. Carmen to our current pastor, Rev. Bruce Wood, our church has had a long history of serving the Hightstown community and the greater Mercer County community. Our history is continuing to be written each and every day and we strive to leave a legacy that displays our dedication to Jesus Christ and to the promotion of the Gospel to this community and beyond.

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