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Our History

P1000300The First Baptist Church of Lewisburg has a rich history, having made significant contributions over our 165 year history to American Protestantism and Higher Education.

This church was founded by families who transferred from the Milton Baptist Church for the express purpose of founding a University in Lewisburg. Led by James Moore III, the University at Lewisburg (now Bucknell University) was established.

The ties to Bucknell have been especially strong. In 1846, the school opened in the church basement, with classes for both the undergraduates and college preparatory students from the community. Classes were held there until Taylor Hall opened on College Hill in 1849.

Bucknell faculty and students formed the backbone of church membership for a century and the pastorate was often filled by faculty members. When the church outgrew its original building, the present edifice was constructed on plans provided by Bucknell’s president, Justin Loomis.

One of the great hymn writers and preachers of the 19th century, Robert Lowry, was among those faculty-pastors. We have been blessed by the Jubilee Hymn he wrote for the 50th anniversary in 1894; we sing it each communion Sunday. Lowry’s “Shall We Gather at the River” was adapted by Charles Ives for his Second Symphony. Lowry was a celebrity in his day, causing a standing ovation when his presence was announced at the Sunday School Centennial in London, England, in 1880.