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The beginning of the Intola Baptist Church may be traced to the years 1939-1942 when Misses Aune Ikavalko, Esther Rissanen and Helena Rae (now Mrs. Toivo Tervonen), all from the First Finnish Baptist Church, Toronto, did missionary work in the Bay District in northwestern Ontario. They were assisted by visits from Rev. T. Vainonen of Toronto and Rev. T. Tervonen of Painesville, Ohio. Souls were saved, and by May 1945 eight persons had followed the Lord's command in baptism. It was at that time the church was organized with eight charter members.
At the same time it was decided to build a place for worship. A local Finnish man, Arvid West, donated a lot. The Baptist Mission Union was requested to allow Rev. Toivo Tervonen to come to Intola to supervise the work of building. This request was graciously granted. He drew the plans, which were also accepted by the Canadian Baptist Home Mission Board, and spent three summers working with Rev. Vainonen and local men on the building. At last the beautiful building stood ready for dedication, which took place on August 17, 1947. The church seating 125 was filled to capacity. The pastor, Rev. Topias Vainonen, who had been called in 1946 from Toronto, opened the service and during the program Rev. Toivo Tervonen gave a history of God's marvelous guidance and help in the years preceding the dedication.
A Sunday School was begun with 201 children, which has grown to an enrollment of 42 at present. A Young People's Society was also organized; the average attendance is around 30.
Besides the regular meetings at Intola, gospel services are held at four out-stations. At present the church has no regular pastor. The missionary, Miss Esther Rissanen, leads the work, assisted by Mr. Walter Kotanen and Mrs. Tauno Kotanen. The membership is 15. With hope and great anticipation the church looks unto the Lord for success and growth in the coming days.
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. 53-54.
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