Over one hundred years ago, members of the First Baptist Church were eager to start a work among the residents of the rapidly growing north end of the city then known as the “Annex”. As a result of their efforts, on June 7, 1908, “The Annex Branch of the First Baptist Church” was formed, the first meetings taking place in the Y.M.C.A. Hall on Fairmount Avenue.
The following year, on November 25, 1909, this Branch was officially organized as the Temple Baptist Church, with a charter membership of 45, the late Rev. J.A. Gordon officiating. The Rev. Gordon H. Baker became its first pastor. In January 1910, the Masonic Hall at the corner of Laurier and Park Avenues was leased and all services were held in this hall for the next two years.
From the commencement of the church until the end of 1922, support was regularly received from the Baptist Home Mission Board; but since January 1, 1923, the church has been self-supporting. Formerly a mortgage of $15,000 was carried on the present building, but this was retired over a period of years. On February 28, 111938, the mortgage was burned at a special service of praise and thanksgiving. This occasion also marked the twentieth anniversary of Rev. C. G. Smith’s pastorate.
Rev. Robert R. Nicholson succeeded Rev. C.G. Smith as pastor of the church in 1943. He resigned in 1945 to serve as a chaplain in the Canadian Forces. At that time a call was extended to the Rev. Dana H. Lamb of Weyburn, Saskatchewan, and accepted. Rev. D. H. Lamb was pastor from June 1945 to May 1950., when he resigned to accept a pastorate in Simcoe, Ontario.
Temple’s fifth pastor was the Rev. Benjamin G. Smith, who came from Andover, Nova Scotia, in September 1950 and remained for nine years until the summer of 1959. He resigned to accept an assignment for the Home Mission Board to establish Baptist Work at Prescott, Ontario. Under the leadership of Rev. B.G. Smith, a small group of members from the Temple Baptist Church with some other sister churches, started what is now known as Lakeside Heights Baptist Church in 1953. Then in 1958 another group requested letters of transfer and started Val Royal Baptist Church in Ville St-Laurent. The Rev. Thomas J. Caldwell, pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, began his pastorate work in Outremont on July 1, 1960, and remained until March 19, 1961.
Rev. Dr. Paul Stevens, B.A., of Toronto, and a senior Divinity student at McMaster University in Hamilton, became Temple’s seventh pastor on June 1, 1961. In April 1966 Rev. Dr. P. Stevens resigned to become the Quebec Area Secretary of the Canadian Baptists of Ontario and Quebec. He continued to devote part of his time to the church until September 1966. Services were then conducted by supply ministers until March 1, 1967, when Rev. Stuart F. Gillespie was called to become the interim minister, devoting part of his time to the church, the balance to the work of the Grande Ligne Mission. Rev. S.F. Gillespie remained at Temple until October 1, 1968, when he resigned to follow God’s call to work in French Canada.
With the help of the Department of Baptist Missions, Rev. Hazen C. Parent, formerly of the Canadian Baptist Mission staff in Bolivia, visited the church and preached on November 12, 1972, and in December accepted the church’s call to become its full-time pastor, effective January 1, 1973. At the end of July 1975, Rev. H.C. Parent accepted a call to Bethany Memorial Baptist Church in Kentville, N.S. On Sunday, October 17, 1976, at a specially called meeting of the church, the Pulpit Committee recommended that Mr. William G. McNairn be appointed part-time pastor of Temple. Mr. W.G. McNairn also accepted another appointment as Minister of Stewardship of Ontario Bible College. In April 1981 Mr. W.G. McNairn resigned as pastor of Temple to return to the Welcome Hall Mission.
On April 10, 1983 the Rev. William N. Reagan, was extended a call to become the church’s pastor. Rev. W. N. Reagan came to the church from North Carolina and remained the pastor until his resignation in April 1984.
The induction of the twelfth pastor, Pastor Joseph H. Hovsepian took place on Sunday, May 12, 1985. This was not the beginning of Pastor J.H. Hovsepian’s ministry, but simply the continuation of it, under the new office of church pastor. Pastor J.H. Hovsepian came to the church in 1960 and has since been an active and hands-on member and pastor of this church.
In the last thirty-five years Outremont has changed greatly and many English families have moved away to suburban areas and the ministry of Temple Baptist Church has been challenged to meet the needs of many ethnic groups who have come to Montreal. French, Spanish, Italian, Greek, Armenian and Chinese congregations have developed here and several churches were born as a result, such as Luz Y Verdad and Chinese Baptist Church.
More recently, Temple has had the opportunity to minister to refugees and new immigrants, most of them from Ghana, Africa. During the peak of the influx of refugees, the Baptist Refugee Aid Committee was initiated by Temple and formed with the co-operation of Val Royal and First Baptist Churches. The congregation has been blessed by the culture and talents these brothers and sisters brought with them. Temple has now come full circle and as the community has continued changing with more English-speaking people moving in, the congregation has seen a shift in the last few years from ethnic groups to Canadians, mainly young people.
Without a doubt, Temple has had unique ministries. We pray that future generations will also experience God’s power and love and they will continue the mission and work of Temple.