The history of Second Baptist Church is a microcosm of the history of our nation. It has experienced the same vicissitudes. From the pioneer days of its founding in a “rough, untamed frontier town”, it has served the community through financial panics, through periods of affluence and a depression. It has adhered to the principle of individual freedom in matters of faith on which the Baptist church was founded and has long welcomed all believers in Christ to its membership and communion. Religious backgrounds vary greatly including Methodist, Presbyterian, Disciples, Lutheran, Southern Baptist, Catholic, Orthodox and Jewish backgrounds.
Founded, February 18, 1818 / Dissolved, February 10, 1833
The original Baptist church in St. Louis took the road less traveled. It was founded by two missionaries sent by the Baptist Triennial Convention to the Missouri Territory, John Mason Peck and James Ely Welch. Together with seven Baptists they found living in this small pioneer settlement, Peck and Welch formed the Baptist Church of St. Louis. It was organized differently than the Presbyterian, Methodist or Episcopal churches being formed around the same time. African Americans had become members almost from the formation of the Baptist congregation in St. Louis. This meant that slaves and their masters could have held the same membership status, a reality unheard of in this era. In most churches, the black members were forced to sit separated from the white members. There is no evidence of such segregation in Peck’s new congregation. It was a racially mixed congregation for its first ten years.
JOHN MASON PECK was arguably “the greatest of the pioneers to set foot in early St. Louis” (St. Louis Mercantile Library at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, M-111).