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West Corners Baptist Church

A Lighthouse for Jesus Christ to the community of West Corners, NY

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History of the church 

The beginning of the West Corners Baptist Church started in 1935 with combined efforts of Stanley Moody and Vern Clark. Stanley had graduated from Practical Bible Training School (now Davis College) in 1932 and was attending Union Baptist Church on Liberty Street. Vern was a member of the West Endicott Baptist Church on Birdsall Street. Together they started a Sunday School class in the basement of the West Corners School.

Moody and Clark held the service in the afternoon to allow for members of other churches to help them. Many people from around the community came to the services. Moody and other visiting clergy would share a short message (in the furnace room of the school), while the children were divided into age groups and taught. When the cold of winter came, the basement grew so cold that a small oil stove was obtained. The stove was only short lived as the smoke and fumes were so bad the group decided to wear coats instead.

Christmas was a happy time in spite of the surroundings. Children made posters for the walls (including one made from a window shade, with a star at the top, baby Jesus below, and the words written on it, The Light of the World. The children preformed a Christmas program complete with singing and afterwards each child received a small package of candy.

As Europe was falling to the forces of Nazism and the Second World War loomed on the horizon the group of believers making up the core of the group prayed for guidance. The group met on Thursday evenings in each other’s home looking for God’s direction.

In 1941 as the group was praying for God’s guidance seven miles away in Johnson City at Baptist Bible Seminary, 27 year old student Donald B. Stowell and his wife Helen were looking for God’s direction. He would be graduating that spring and he had heard of the group in West Corners. He went and talked and prayed with them about the body of believers. After much prayer and conversation the group decided to form a church and call Donald Stowell as their first pastor.

The Stowell family (then just starting with a baby boy) lived near Baptist Bible in Johnson City, and would work bi-vocational managing the services at West Corners and also working part time. A collection was taken, to pay for his car and other needs as he commuted between Johnson City and Endicott.

God continued to bless the ministry of the church as it grew in the West Corners School as the Sunday service was moved from the afternoon to the morning and a Wednesday evening prayer meeting was organized as well. They were given permission to move the church from the basement to a class room.

The believers prepared to organize the church and then one Sunday about an hour after the morning service the United States was plunged into the Second World War with the attack on Pearl Harbor, it was December 7, 1941. Yet, despite the war in Europe and the Pacific the body of believers continued to grow in their faith in Jesus Christ and in attendance.

On Thursday, March 26, 1942 the first meeting for the opening consideration for the organization of the West Corners Baptist Church was held. Dr. Earle G. Griffith, the current president of Baptist Bible Seminary in Johnson City was elected as a moderator and the Reverend Kenneth R. Kinney, the Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Johnson City, as the clerk. The meeting set into motion the next steps for the formation of the church. God was moving the church along, and the next item would be looking for nearby properties.

Mrs. Cornelia Barton told the leaders of a Mr. George E. Miller of Factoryville, PA who had some lots for sale in what was then referred to at the time as Union Gardens, NY. They were only several yards down from the West Corners School. On Thursday, May 7, 1942, Pastor Donald Stowell wrote a letter to Mr. Miller inquiring about the four lots, especially the two lots on the Main Highway. Along with those lots the Reverend Stowell had other lots to present to the church in that neighborhood. 

The church approved the lots that were owned by George Miller and the property was purchased at the corner of Duke Street and Union Highway. 

The church building was constructed through 1943 and the dedication services were held from January 30, 1944-February 4, 1944.