Second Baptist Church
Second Baptist Church of Suffield and Suffield Academy
The Connecticut Baptist Education Society was incorporated in 1820. Its purpose was to create a school to “prepare young men for the ministry.” In 1832 a committee was appointed to raise funds for a “literary institution.” Any town which raised $5,000 would get the school. Citizens of Suffield, Baptists and non-Baptists, raised almost $5,000 and beat out Bristol for the school. The Connecticut Baptist Literary Institution opened in 1833 and its first building was completed in 1834. A year later, “Baptist” was dropped from the name because non-Baptists had contributed money and their children could attend the school. Women were admitted in 1843 as the school’s purpose was expanded. Leaders and pastors of Second Baptist Church provided strong support of CLI. Students of CLI were required to attend Sunday services at Second Baptist.
A young, dynamic minister, Dr. Dwight Ives, came to Second Baptist Church in 1839 partly because of the CLI. He became a major supporter of CLI in terms of marketing, serving on committees, and advising the administration of the CLI until his departure from Second Baptist in 1874. During his pastorate, Second Baptist contributed $15,000 to CLI. In 1898, the town of Suffield created a high school - students attended CLI at town expense. CLI became known as Suffield School in 1912 and when the town constructed its own high school in 1939, CLI became known as Suffield Academy. Second Baptist members continued to provide leadership during these years of change.Edward A. Fuller, a member and leading town citizen, served on the Academy’s Board of Trustees in the late 1800s and as its chairman in the early 1900s. Second Baptist’s building (1840) was used by the Academy for a variety of activities even though it became non-sectarian and became all male.
In 1952, Appleton Seaverns revitalized Suffield Academy. After Rev. Joseph A. Sisk became Pastor of Second Baptist in 1954, Seaverns expanded the Academy’s curriculum with courses on religion taught by Rev. Sisk. The Academy eventually hired a chaplain who taught the courses. The Academy continues to hold weekly chapel meetings and its Baccalaureate Service in the sanctuary of Second Baptist.
Second Baptist has used Academy facilities occasionally. In 1994, Second Baptist used space for a retreat and when it hosted ABCCONN’s 175th Anniversary celebration in 1999, the dinner was held in the Academy’s dining room, as was dinner for ABCCONN’s large World Mission Conference in the fall of 2008. In the Spring of 2012, Second Baptist held a day retreat at the Academy. Each year, Second Baptist Sunday School uses Academy lawn space. A long term relationship between Second Baptist Church and Suffield Academy actively continues.