In the winter of 1838-39 Elder Brigham who had preached occasionally in the township of Burns organized the First Baptist Church of Byron with about a dozen people. Special meetings were held which resulted in the conversion of 9 persons, all of whom joined the church. The meetings were held in a log cabin. Although receiving much encouragement at the start, the society lost its influence and was disorganized. It was later reorganized by Elder Peck and some of the substantial members of the former association. The meetings were held in a school house that stood at the corner of Reed and Beard Road. About ten years later this association broke up.
On October 6, 1866, the friends of the Baptist Church met, agreeable to notice, at the Green School House with nine persons present. This stood at the corner of Reed and Lovejoy Roads just over the county line in Livingston County. The result of the meeting was the organization of a Religious Society to be known as the Baptist Conference of Burns and Cohoctah, and was the germ of the society now in active operation in the village of Byron.
Baptist Church, built in 1873, cost $3,000. Originally called the First Baptist Church of Burns.
On August 31, 1872, at the covenant meeting of the society it was resolved to build a place of worship during the next fall. Committees were appointed to solicit subscriptions and choose a site for the building. This new building had a large auditorium with a vestibule at the west end above which was a balcony. At the east end was a platform on which the pulpit stood, also the organ and twelve chairs for the choir. Under the platform was the Baptistry. At the south east corner of the auditorium there was a trap door that opened to a flight of stairs leading to the basement. The full basement consisted of a spacious room where fellowship meetings and potluck suppers were held as well as other social affairs. There also was a cloak room, fuel room and kitchen. A much anticipated social event was the annual chicken pie donation supper held each fall after the harvest season. This was a time of feasting, fellowship and financial donations to the church treasury.
During the First World War the Red Cross used the basement for its sewing and knitting work for the soldiers.
A top the church at the west end there was a steeple, with a spire pointing to the sky, that housed the church bell which has faithfully summoned the worshipers for the past century. The building cost $3,000 and dedicated November 30, 1873. There were 90 members in 1880. It was located on the northeast corner of Hamilton and Ann Streets.
Several changes were made in 1899, the main ones being the remodeling of the front entrance and vestibule, rearranging the seats (pews) in the auditorium and installing the beautiful memorial colored glass windows, gifts of various church members. The names on the windows are: Decon Kanouse, Deacon Sherman, James Hawley and wife, Melissa M. Joslin, L. Ward Joslin, Wm. And Rebecca Smith and Redmond.
In 1956 a two story addition was built on the east side of the church. This provided a sizeable room on the first floor with Sunday School class rooms, and space for the Sunday School secretary and treasurers office in a corner of the hall on the upper floors.
A new Baptistry was installed at this time just in back of the platform of the main auditorium. In 1961 an oil painting 4'x 8' of a water scene was painted for the background of the Baptistry by Ruth Hoover. The cost of this addition was $12,000.
October 1965 through April 1966 saw the construction of a new addition to the front of the church on the west side. This included an entrance hall, pastors study and a nursery with a large glass partition and loud speaker so the attendants could see and hear services. The cost of $16,000 included much remodeling on the interior.
Prior to 1920 the parsonage was a rented house at 404 Maple St. The second parsonage was at 307 N. Saginaw this place being willed to the church by Mrs. James Hawley. The present parsonage is at 115 Ann St. across the road from the church and was a new house purchased in 1968 costing $18,500. The old parsonage was sold for $12,700.
From the earliest history of the church there was the Ladies Aid which did much to keep the church going. Around 1920 a ladies organization known as the Martha Class was started with the assistance of Mrs. Sarah Wright, the wife of the pastor. This group was active for 30-35 years as a combination Ladies Aid, Missionary Circle and Bible Study Class. In 1954 a later Women's organization was formed called the Missionary Gospel Workers which has carried on with similar activities as its predecessors although in a different manner.
Byron Baptist Church (1999)