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First Finnish Baptist Church, Painesville, Ohio

The Baptist work in Painesville and Fairport, Ohio, began in the years 1908-1909, when a witness from Duluth, Minnesota, Mr. Berglund, came to preach to the Finnish-speaking people. The first three to obey the Lord and be baptized were Oskar and Ullrika Korpinen and Tomi Korpinen.

In 1911 Henry Martikainen came from Finland, where he was a member in Kuopio Baptist Church. He held meetings in the homes of Fairport. In 1934 Rev. Vicktor Holopainen from Toronto, Canada, came to visit. That summer 10 persons were baptized and in August 1934, 12 charter members organized the Finnish Baptist Church. Rev. Holopainen promised to serve at special occasions at the same time he served the church in Toronto. He was called as pastor and served the Fairport church from January 1935 to July 1937.

Rev. Toivo Tervonen was called and began his service as pastor December 1938. The church had then 10 active members. Ten more were added in 1939. Tervonen served the church until June 1947, when he accepted a call to serve as missionary of the Baptist Mission Union.

The present church building and its accomplishment, located at Skinner Ave., and N. State St., in Painesville, is a miracle due to the faith and sacrificial work of Rev. Tervonen and the handful of members. The history in brief is this: In December 1940 the lot was purchased at the price of $850.00. The same month some old buildings were bought from Diamond Alkali Co., at the cost of $200.00. These were wrecked and cleaned by the pastor and members. A large garage was first erected, where things could be stored, which was later built into a parsonage. In April 1941 Rev. Tervonen asked for permission to visit the Baptist Mission Union churches andl ask for aid. The request was granted and a little over $1,000.00 was received. This paid for the property thus far. The pastor drew the plans and they were accepted in October 1941.

Rev. Topias Vainonen Henry Martikainen

With $56.99 in cash the excavation work began and December 9 the water and sewage systems were installed. That winter the Ohio Baptist Convention granted a loan of $1,500.00. By November 1942, the first service was held in the basement. The joy did not last long. Fire broke out from an overheated furnace and wrecked the building to a great extent.

The fire was a great test of faith. The Fire Insurance Co. paid $950.00 and a gift of $300.00 was received from the Asthabula Baptist Association. The cleaning process began. By May 2, 1943 the church edifice was finally completed and dedicated. It was a jubilant day.

By December 4, 1945 Rev. Tervonen reported the burning of the mortgage. Thus with the start of $56.99 on hand 1940 a $7,200.00 church was built and paid for in five years. This proves what a pastor and a few members can do, when they trust in the Lord and are willing to sacrifice something upon the altar of God.

In November of 1947, T. Leonard Juntunen accepted a call to the church, and he was ordained there in June, 1948. He left in December 1948, and the church carried on faithfully under the leadership of the chairman, Mr. Richard Lillback. Finally, in 1950 a call was extended to Rev. Vainonen of Intola, Canada, who arrived in Painesville in September.

The regular work of the church. now includes a service on Sunday, prayer meeting, young people's and Sunday school.

Published in Fifty Years of Christian Stewardship 1901-1951. Prepared in commemoration of the Fiftieth anniversary of The Baptist Mission Union of America. 1951, p. 50-52.

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