Our Story

How it all started...

In October 1976, Houghton Baptist Church began as a small weekly Bible study at the Douglass House Hotel in Houghton with Jim Colbert, Alan Largin, and Jay Hays.  When the study was moved to the home of Alan and Marvalene Largin in Hancock, average attendance jumped from four to 12.  The Reverend Howard Clark, pastor of First Baptist Church of Gwinn, led these studies.

In September 1977, the group rented the Seventh Day Adventist church building for a revival and subsequent weekly services.  From these services a nucleus of 10 became the “charter members” of Houghton Baptist Chapel, a mission church sponsored by the Gwinn church. While a pastor was being sought, Gwinn pastoral staff and leaders led the Sunday services.

In September 1978, with financial help from the Home Mission Board and several other churches, Reverend David Barker of Traverse City, Michigan, became the Chapel’s first pastor.  Pastor Barker also began serving as Baptist Student Union director for Michigan Technological University and Suomi College with regular meetings in his home in Hancock.  His wife, Evelyn, taught English classes based on the Bible for the wives of international students.

In November 1979, the Chapel rented the old powerhouse building in Houghton and met there for over five years while efforts were made to find a permanent place of worship.  Membership grew to 48, with average Sunday school attendance around 40 and morning worship around 50.  The Chapel organized as a church on February 2, 1985.

In September 1985, services began at the property on Bridge Street in Houghton. The property was purchased after nearly four years of negotiations.  During the summers of 1986, 87, 88, and 90, many volunteer work groups from several states came to help turn the former boat sales/services building into a completely remodeled, useful church facility which served well for many years.  The Bridge Street mortgage was paid in full in December 1991, after only six years.

Pastor Barker heard God’s call to become director of missions in Missouri during an “Experiencing God" study and resigned in 1994.   The congregation worked hard to find a new pastor.

In June 1995, Reverend Bruce Cargile arrived with his family from Cottonwood, Arizona.  He and his wife, Meri Jane, sensed and obeyed God’s call for serving His church “up North”.  In addition to growing our church, Pastor Cargile assumed a leadership role in the Upper Michigan Southern Baptist Association and helped other pastors in the U.P. resolve problems in their churches.

Pastor Cargile began and completed the “Bridge to Tomorrow”  three-year pledge program to raise funds for a new church complex. In September 2001, a 7.28-acre property on a forested hilltop on Sharon Avenue in Houghton was purchased and dedicated to the Lord.  

In less than two years, the Sharon Avenue building was completed with help from church members, the community, and teams of volunteers from Alabama and Florida. The first service in the new facility was Christmas Eve 2002.

In May 2003, the Bridge Street building was sold to the Chinese Christian Fellowship.

Pastor Cargile heard the call to be part of a mission effort in Kansas and left HBC to follow his heart in September 2004.

In August 2005,  Dee Coker joined Houghton Baptist Church as pastor. Pastor Coker and his wife, Michelle, came from Florida. Church attendance grew, and a second service was added during his time. Pastor Coker started the “Vision for Tomorrow” campaign to help pay off the mortgage.

In 2008, after only five years, the Houghton Baptist Church mortgage was paid off in full!

Pastor Coker resigned to take a position at a startup church in Ohio in 2009.

In 2010, Pastor Jeremy Dunlap joined us for a short six months.  During that time David Whitaker became the assistant pastor. He also served as our interim pastor following Pastor Dunlap's departure.

Whitaker was selected to be our new lead pastor in 2011. He joined us as a Liberty University student working towards his pastoral degree which he completed in 2014.

Pastor Whitaker spearheaded the “Next Phase” building program to expand our current building. The addition was completed in the fall of 2017, expanding sanctuary seating to 260 seats, enlarging the fellowship hall and creating three office spaces.

Pastor Whitaker has guided Houghton Baptist Church to unprecedented growth. This has manifested through church attendance and, more importantly, through 80 saved and more than 168 baptisms during his tenure.

Expanding the vision...

Someone once said, “There’s not enough believers in our community to keep all of our churches alive”. That’s true. That’s why we focus all of our attention on reaching those that are unreachable. Those that are lost and unchurched. And those that are likeminded. The church is a hospital for the sick and broken. Come along beside us to help us reach our mission. 

Where we are headed...

We‘ve got big plans in place to continue reaching the lost and unchurched in our community. Huge plans! We’ve seen 52 saved and baptized 145 in the last five years. So amazing! We’ve also made plans to continue develop our property on Sharon Avenue. Those plans include a family center and larger worship center. We’ll see what God does in the next four-to-six years. 

Be a part of our story...

Join us every Sunday as we gather to worship together at 11:15am