Lockport, NY… 1856
In the spring of 1856 construction began on Rapids Free Church, on land donated with the stipulation that if at any time religious services were discontinued it was to revert back to the original heirs. Before that time services were held in the local schoolhouse and were attended by nearly every family in Rapids. In 1899 a church bell was purchased, which still hangs in the old church building and can be rung. Sometime before the 1880’s the church became affiliated with the United Brethren in Christ Church, which later merged with the Evangelical Church to form the Evangelical United Brethren Church in 1946.
Rev. James Burdick was called to minister at the E.U.B church in July, 1960. On April 24th 1968, the congregation voted unanimously to dissolve its membership in the E.U.B. and form Rapids Christian Chapel. This was because the E.U.B. was about to merge with the Methodist Church, thus forming the United Methodist Church.
Shortly after they had voted to leave the E.U.B. and each member of the congregation withdrew their name from the E.U.B. Denomination, the pastor at that time Rev. James Burdick was notified by the E.U.B. that he was forbidden to enter the pulpit the next Sunday. Rev. Burdick did not comply with the order and services continued as usual for nearly 2 years until the church was informed that on Sunday, March 1st 1970 at 11:00a.m. a new minister would be sent to “resume services at the church.”
It was not until the Friday before the new minister was set to arrive that the church found out he wasn’t coming because of their “refusal to give up the property.” Eventually the United Methodists agreed to allow Rapids Christian Chapel to continue to conduct services with their own pastor, but would have to purchase their own building from them. After better than 5 more years of legal wrangling, Rapids Christian Chapel was allowed to keep their building, free of charge, and free of all denominational ties!
In August 1972 Rev. George Brasser was called to minister at the church and carry on the fight. Shortly after the legal battles were done on September 13, 1977, the congregation of over 150 people voted to build a new sanctuary, and just a little over 2 years later on December 16, 1979 the first service was held in the sanctuary that you are all sitting in today! On March 26th, 1980 after the completion of that massive building project, better than doubling the size of the church building, the congregation voted to change the name to Rapids Bible Church as it has been known ever since.
Rev. David Moss was called to lead the ministry at Rapids Bible Church in May of 1985. In July 1993, Rev. Lawrence Bentley was called to minister at the church, and as of October 1st 2016 Pastor Dan Samson has become the Senior Pastor at Rapids Bible Church to continue share the gospel of Jesus Christ to the community of Rapids.