Baiting Hollow derives its name from the pond in the hollow and the inn which stood just to the east of the present church. This was where weary beasts and their drivers in the 1700's stopped for rest and refreshment. The meaning of bait in old English is "to give food and drink, especially to horses on the road." In light of this, the name Baiting Hollow Church seems especially significant for it is within and from the church that our faith family attempts to spiritually nourish and feed us in our Faith while providing a physically safe haven.
The Baiting Hollow Church was officially formed in 1791, though members had been meeting in private homes occasionally since 1780. Our first house of worship was dedicated in 1803. That building was refurbished several times but by 1861 the Baiting Hollow Church had outgrown that home and a new one was built on the hill. According to our historian, the 1861 building had a high pointed steeple. Our tall building on the open hilltop was struck by lightning and the tempting spire was replaced with the present stubby bell tower. With the construction of the new church, the 1803 church was moved and it became a barn on a local farm. In 1899 a nearby unused Swedenborgian church was purchased and dragged on skids by oxen to the rear of the church. This became a meeting room, Sunday school rooms and a kitchen. In 1913 the beautiful stained glass windows were installed, along with tin paneling and wooden pews. After WWII the doors and lintels of the 1803 church were rescued from the barn and installed in the entrance to the pastor's study. It was not until 100 years after the 1861 church was built that any major new construction was done on the edifice other than the addition of the Swedenborgian church. In 1961 an addition was completed which included a new parish hall and nine Sunday school rooms. The remodeling also enlarged the sanctuary. Today with the exception of a few maintenance changes the church built in 1861, and enlarged in 1899 and 1961 remains unchanged.
The Baiting Hollow Church has been served by 27 pastors. Our current pastor, Rev. Stanley Knavel has been with us since 2005.
As is the case in many things, women seem to have been the backbone of the church, especially after 1861. The congregational church first ordained women in the
1860's though most served as missionaries. Over the years the women's groups in the Baiting Hollow church have followed what was important to the time, beginning with Christian Endeavor, Ladies Aid,
Women's Christian Temperance Union, Church and Community Club and Good Will Club. These groups have all provided a service and sense of caring without which the church would be unable to carry out
its social and charitable services.
The Junior Christian Endeavor became the Youth Fellowship which offers our young people the opportunity for stewardship as well as fun and fellowship. Our Sunday School continues to try and outsmart the secular calling for activities on Sunday morning and is there to teach our children in the community the principles of our faith and the history of the people of God from creation to the present time.
Our "Church on the Hill" as it is sometimes called, has stood majestically since the turn of the 18th century. It has been a spiritual refuge and gathering place for many throughout these years. It is a fact that some things get better with age, and we would hope that Baiting Hollow Church is approaching even greater heights as it reaches out to those in our local communities and throughout our world with love, fellowship and stewardship.