In 1874, Victoria, British Columbia, had a population of about four thousand people, but it had no Baptist church. In December of that year, about a decade before there was a rail link between eastern Canada and the Pacific, Alexander Clyde and his family emigrated from Stratford, Ontario to Victoria, probably to work on Britain’s newest naval base. Brother Clyde was not a pastor or a missionary, but he was a Baptist who was burdened about the spiritual condition of his new home. As new families settled into Victoria, Alexander was often there to make them feel welcome and to encourage them to join his family in studying the Word of God. As a few more Baptists moved into town, Clyde began writing home, pleading with the Baptists in the east to send a pastor. Eventually William Carnes made the 2,700 mile trek across the country, and in May, 1876, fifteen charter members, eight blacks and seven whites, organized the First Baptist church in Victoria.
The Lord blessed the little congregation as it struggled for souls. Recognizing the need, they began to build a little building in which to meet. Then in 1877 as the building project neared completion, J.C. Baker of San Francisco sailed up the coast to hold a sixteen day evangelistic effort. A few people were born again. And then on the day of the building’s dedication, this day in 1877, the city of Victoria witnessed it’s first baptism by immersion. The local newspaper, the “Colonist,” wrote: “The sacred edifice was crowded to its utmost capacity. Rev. J. Baker preached an able sermon of God’s plan of redemption, and solemnity such as we have seldom witnessed came over the congregation as the candidates were lead into the water. Strong men were seen weeping, and deep impression was made.”
In this case, one of the key ingredients in the establishing of this church was a layman who dedicated himself to seeing the Lord properly glorified.