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Intola Baptist Church is located eight miles from Port Arthur, Ontario; on highway 17A. To the surrounding rural community it stands as a monument of grace, and as a reminder that the Lord is able to keep that which is committed to Him, even through difficulty and opposition.
The early history of the church is varied and interesting. Pioneer missionary work by Aune Ikavalko, Esther Rissanen and Helena Rae (now Mrs. T. Tervonen) in the Thunder Bay District resulted in the organization of the church in Intola in May, 1945, with eight charter members. At this time it was also decided to build a place for worship. The Baptist Mission Union sent Rev. Tervonen to supervise the construction of the church edifice, which was dedicated on August 17, 1947. Rev. T. Vainonen was called as a full time Pastor in 1946.
Rev. Vainonen together with Esther Rissanen established the work well during these years. Besides the regular meetings at Intola, gospel services were held at four out-stations. The Sunday School and Young People's society grew and became an important part of the work. When Rev. Vainonen accepted a call to the Finnish Baptist Church in Painesville, Ohio, in 1948, Esther Rissanen assumed full responsibility for the work. She faithfully carried on during the next few years. Her tireless efforts kept the church going despite many problems and discouragements.
Since the beginning of the church work in Intola, the Kotanen Brothers, on John Street, have taken special interest in this ministry. Mrs. Tauno Kotanen has faithfully carried out many responsibilities in the church every Lord's Day, and Walter Kotanen has been used by the Lord in the preaching and teaching of the Word and transporting Sunday School pupils.
The Baptist Mission Union has tried to encourage the work in Intola in several ways. Workers were sent up during summer vacations to help with the Daily Vacation Bible School. Among these workers were Elaine Tikka, Herb Skoglund, Jerry Anderson and Eric Warnstrom.
In June 1955, the Annual Conference of the Baptist Mission Union was held in Intola which greatly encouraged the church. Finally when Rev. T. Tervonen felt the call to pastor the church in the fall of 1958 the Baptist Mission Union pledged their support.
According to encouraging reports of recent days the church can press forward to greater heights for God.
Published in Sixty Years of Christian Stewardship 1901-1961. Prepared in commemoration of the Sixtieth anniversary of The Baptist Mission Union of America. 1961, p. 56-57.
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