Odin First Baptist Church
By Mike Stallard
The first Baptist work of record in Odin was in 1865 when a group of thirteen, meeting in Tipton Hall, constituted a Baptist church. Because of the crossing of two major railroad lines, Odin had grown during the Civil War to be the largest city in Marion County. Rev W. T. Green was the first pastor. The church purchased a meeting hall, but later lost it due to inability to pay it off. There were five more pastors as the church continued until 1877 when it disbanded. There was no Baptist church in Odin again until 1911.
On January 19, 1911, at the request of local people, elders and deacons of nearby churches met for the purpose of organizing a Baptist Church. Dr. W.P. Throgmorton of Marion and B.T. Rodman of DuQuoin, two notable men in Baptist history, were present. Elders and deacons from Patoka, Friendship, Fairman, Kinmundy, Salem, Sailor Springs, as well as A.C. Kelly of the Orphans Home were present to help in the birthing of the church.
At the meeting, a letter from First Baptist Church of Sandoval was read stating that at a business meeting in December of 1910 they had voted to dismiss all members in good standing who desired to enter into the organization of a Baptist church in Odin.
In 1912, the church joined the Kaskaskia Baptist Association. Without a building of their own, the members met for one year in the Odin Protestant Methodist Church, and then for two years in the Presbyterian Church building. They then purchased a house west of the school and met there for nine years. One of the members, Mrs. Ira Meredith, wrote to the W.A. Prescotts of Fairport, New York, about purchasing the property where the church now stands. They were Baptist folks who said that they would give the property to build a church if the congregation would pay the taxes owed, about $2300, which they gladly did pay.
Work began on the basement of the new building in 1922, and they began holding services in the basement in 1923. The construction of the rest of the building didn’t come as quickly as they had hoped, and they would end up meeting in the basement for the next 25 years. Finally, in 1948, they were able to build the rest of the building while Bro. Forrest Weems was the pastor. In the 1960’s, the church added an education wing with fellowship hall in the basement and two floors of education space with a baptistery. The church later got very involved in bus ministry and built a bus barn on the property in the mid 70’s. In the year 2000, the church had undergone a major face lift with new siding, new roof, and the addition of an elevator.
Over the years, the church, like most, has gone up and down in size. There has been some mighty revivals as well as some low times. Yet the church remains strong and healthy. Over the years, they have sent out six men to the Gospel ministry: Rev. Thomas Spears, Rev. Irvin Smith (pastor at Bethel for over 40 years), Rev. Kent Robinson, Rev. Tim Beard, Rev. Roger Lipe, and Rev. Mike Fogerson. The church is justifiably proud of these men of God.
Beginning in the late 1990’s the church began several major remodeling projects including the addition of an elevator for easier access to the basement and main floor. In 2007 ground was broken for a Family Life Center next to the present church. This building has a gymnasium, kitchen, five classrooms, bathrooms with showers for mission groups, and storage. This multipurpose building is set up for worship, recreation, fellowship, education and a variety of uses for the growing church as well as ministry to the community. The completion in 2009 will usher in a new era of ministries to the Odin area. Building upon the dedication of those in the past with the vision of those in the present preparing for the future.