Pownal is a small community in the southwest corner of Vermont. In 1772 Benjamin Garner arrived in Pownal from Massachusetts, and a Baptist church was formed. During the following year some sort of disease swept through the area, and the Lord used it to awaken residents to their spiritual needs. The Baptist church increased from five to sixty-five members. At that point some people came from Massachusetts with information about past sins in Garner’s life. Upon investigation, that sinful behavior was still going on. The result was the near destruction of the church.
In the winter of 1781, the Lord led an evangelist to Pownal, and the church began once again to grow in numbers and spirit. Then in 1788, Elder Caleb Nichols arrived to become pastor. Under his ministry the church was able to overcome the reputation it had been unjustly given.
Caleb Nichols was born in Exeter, Rhode Island on this day in 1743. As a young man he was considered to be proud, selfish and thoughtless, primarily interested in playing his violin in taverns and generally wasting time. But at the age of twenty-four he was born again, trusting Christ as his Redeemer. Not long after his baptism he began to preach, and upon his ordination, he became the pastor of the Baptist church in Coventry, Rhode Island. During his ministry there the church grew by more than three hundred fifty members.
After Brother Nichols moved to Vermont, the Lord gave to that church two periods of revival and spiritual growth. The name of Christ was magnified among the residents. After Nichols’ death it was said that in his ministry he exchanged his violin for the gospel trumpet. Many heard the call and came to Christ.