Founded on February 11, 1838, the congregation consisted of Deacon William and Dorothy Trowbridge and their son, William S. Trowbridge, A.G. and Mary Dye, and Mrs. Sarah (Trowbridge) Cole. They first met in the Dye and Trowbridge homes, then in the Dye school house.
At this little pioneer meeting in what was practically a wilderness, inhabited by wolves and Indians, a church was born and the seeds of organized religion were planted in Sheboygan County.
The Coles had arrived in 1836 and found their house was not yet built. They spent that first winter living in a tent beside the Sheboygan River with their two small children. Over the next two years, other members of the Trowbridge and Rounseville families arrived.
In 1847, a Sabbath School was organized. As the membership grew, a church building was erected in 1850 on the banks of the Sheboygan River, baptisms occurring at a spot known as Baptist Bay.A bell, which still rings today, was purchased for $400 and shipped from New York. The bell rang six times a day as the timekeeper for the village. Before the bell was purchased Deacon Trowbridge would blow a ram’s horn to signal time. When President Lincoln was assassinated, the bell was tolled from 6:00am to 6:00pm.
In 1856 when the railroad line was built close to the church, the building began to suffer damage. It was moved to its current location on Buffalo Street, using winches, horses, and log rollers.
An important part played throughout its difficult early years in the Falls Baptist Church was by Deacon William Trowbridge. He could always be called upon to fill in as pastor when the church was without one. Even though he was not an ordained clergyman, he served in most capacities just as efficiently as if he had been.
One Sunday in 1861, after Fort Sumter was fired upon, Deacon Trowbridge was preaching, when there was a great commotion in the street. Most of the congregation walked or ran out of the church. Finally the Deacon closed his Bible and slowly followed his flock. Someone told him that the President had called for soldiers to uphold the honor and the flag of the nation and they were going to raise a company right then and there. The old Deacon walked down into the street where his grandson Nathan Cole was irregularly pounding a bass drum. He said, “Nathan, I know that it is Sunday and that all but the Lord’s work should be abandoned, but the saving of our country and the shielding of its flag from dishonor is the Lord’s work. Give me the drum.” Word flew through the community that Deacon Trowbridge had left the pulpit to beat a drum, and on Sunday, too. That night Nathan Cole went to Sheboygan with enough men to make up what became Company C of the 4th Wisconsin.
Another story to told of Deacon Trowbridge which illustrates his colorful character. One winter the little village of Sheboygan Falls was visited by a smallpox epidemic. The first Sunday after the dreaded disease made its appearance, the Deacon made an announcement, “These services will be postponed until after the smallpox disappears from the community. From this time on, I shall give my services to the stricken families.” The Deacon hurried to his home, changed his clothes, bade his family farewell and began his work of mercy. The epidemic lasted nearly all winter, large numbers died, few in the village escaping the terrible disease. Yet neither the Deacon nor the good souls who imitated his example, or their families, became ill. Nearly half of the congregation had disappeared when services were resumed in the spring.
In 1909-10, a new front was added to the building. A new floor was laid in the sanctuary, the building electrified and the original lamps placed in the foyer. The pews were replaced with the current oak benches. Stained glass windows were placed at the front.
Since 1845, when the Sheboygan Baptist Church was founded, the churches worked together while serving their own communities and at times shared ministers. Throughout the years the two churches grew. Members became missionaries and ministers. The churches shared the times with the country at large, sending members to fight in the Civil War, World War I, and World War II and working at home to support the efforts with gardens, knitting and producing bandages.
The Sheboygan First Baptist and Sheboygan Falls First Baptist churches voted to merge in 1989 to strengthen the congregation and help serve the cause of Christ. The name was changed to Falls Community Church.
A new addition was added in 2004, adding meeting space and making the building handicap accessible, with an elevator and an additional bathroom.
While we treasure the building and people who have been part of this rich history, the building is a place for us to gather and be renewed for the work of Christ in the world.