Rice Memorial Baptist Church
Sunday, May 19, 2024

Our Heritage

 The Beginnings of Rice Memorial Baptist Church


Rice Memorial Baptist Church was named in memory of Luther Rice, who went overseas as a missionary with Adoniram Judson, and then returned to the United States to spend the rest of his life in leading churches to cooperative efforts in support of foreign missions.  He was also instrumental in establishing institutes of higher learning for pastors and missionaries. 

Rice Memorial had its real beginning in 1960, when a couple from neighboring Westborough, the Charltons received Jesus Christ as their Savior while visiting in Florida.  They returned home to begin a Bible Study group which met in private homes and was led by Reverend Elmer Sizemore.

It was common after the bible study, to have a business meeting to discuss the business aspects of beginning a church.  Funny that one of the first purchases was offering plates, then hymnals.

The fellowship began with about six people meeting in a home, and then grew to 9, then 13, etc.

Sunday services began in the Northborough Town Hall in 1961, and the group was served by Rev. Eugene Trawick and Roland Tietz, of Screven Memorial Baptist Church in Portsmouth, NH, which was Rice’s sponsoring church.  Services eventually moved to the Grange Hall (on School Street I think) and met there for a few years until the church bought property and broke ground.

Reverend Merwyn Borders was called to Northborough in the mid 1960’s and served as Rice’s first full-time pastor.  During his ministry, the church held services at Northborough Grange Hall.  As the congregation grew, land was purchased on Southwest Cutoff (Route 20), then eventually on Lincoln Street.  Ground-breaking ceremonies followed and preparations were made to begin a building.  Shortly after this time, Rev. Borders felt God’s leading to Vermont, where he became Director of Missions. 

The congregation continued their efforts to complete their first building, and moved into these facilities in 1970.  Rev. Jack West served as interim pastor.   The newly called Rev. Robert Lingle arrived in July, 1971.  A parsonage was built on Oak Avenue.  In 1975, an education wing was added to the church.  Pastor Lingle served a little more than ten years, leaving in September 1981.

Rev. Arthur Kreidel served as pastor from March of 1982 to August of the next year.  Rev. David Milligan, who with his wife was curator of the Luther Rice homesite, served as interim pastor until the arrival of Rev. J. V. Davis in September of 1984. 

In May of 1988, ground was broken for the larger sanctuary and additional classrooms and office space.  The original educational wing was remodeled into the pre-school area.  New kitchen facilities were added during 1990 and 1991. 

Following the move of Rev. Davis to Tennessee in 1990, Rev. Milligan again served as interim until Rev. Richard Drehmer assumed the pastorate in March of 1991.  He and his wife June served until summer of 1996. 

During these years, the church had grown upwards to almost 200 members.  It wasn’t uncommon to have well over 150 in Sunday School and the worship service. 

Rev. Ken Klingler served as interim pastor until August of 1997 when Rev. Weldon Moak was called as pastor and served at Rice for two years after which he accepted a call to pastor a church in Louisiana.  

Rev. Rafael Hernandez served as interim pastor until the church called Rev. Stephen Bickel to serve as pastor at Rice Memorial and he assumed the pastorate in September of 2000.  Rev. Bickel and his wife Carolyn served at Rice until August of 2004 when Rev. Bickel accepted a music minister position in Florida.

Once again Rev. Hernandez came and served as interim pastor.   In May of 2005, Stephen Georgeson was called and confirmed as the new pastor of Rice Memorial.  Stephen had been a member of Rice for thirteen years and accepted the call to the ministry and to serve as Pastor at Rice along with his wife Mish.  Rev. Hernandez mentored Stephen for ten months until March 2006 when Stephen was ordained into the gospel ministry and installed as Pastor of Rice Memorial Baptist Church and has been our Pastor to this day.

Rice Memorial has been active in funding and supporting mission churches.  Rice has been led by God and used by Him to start Christ Baptist Church in Hopedale, North County Christian Fellowship in Leominster, Central Baptist Church in Rutland, Rice Korean Church in Northborough, and most recently a Quechua Indian church in Northampton.  Rice has always been a mission-minded church and gives generously to domestic and international missions through the Southern Baptist Convention’s Cooperative Program.

Rice Memorial is one of the first five Southern Baptist Churches in New England.  Screven Memorial, Portsmouth, NH, started us.  We started several churches which included First Baptist Sudbury, which started Grace Baptist in Hudson, which started Hope Chapel in Sterling. 

The membership of Rice continues to look forward to God doing mighty things through the local church, and by His grace, we will continue to be part of that work.