Hazelwood just recently celebrated her 115th anniversary. In a true sense, her roots go back to a distant land—to the city of Rumford, Essex, England. It was here on June 24, 1879 that Charles Benjamin Althoff was born, who eventually became the founding pastor of HBC. In 1892, Charles Althoff’s mother and stepfather immigrated to America and settled in Brooklyn, NY. By God’s grace, Charles became a Christian in 1896 and became a member at First Baptist Church, Brooklyn, NY. As a young man, he was called to gospel ministry. In fact, he was known as the “boy preacher” of Brooklyn, where he would often preach in various missions while he also worked in the YMCA. IN 1902, Charles moved to Louisville to attend the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Charles was able to secure the job of Assistant Secretary of the Railroad YMCA at 10th and Broadway. In his spare time, he did gospel work in the suburbs of Louisville known as the Jacobs Addition. Charles held services in the Jacobs School in the Jacobs Addition, and in the afternoon they met at a home in the Meacham Addition. On their first Sunday service, they had a total of 6 people who attended. By the third Sunday, their attendance had grown to 40 people.
In 1903, they decided to combine the services of the Jacobs Addition and the Meacham Addition into one service. One evening, a visiting minister called the mission, “Hazelwood Baptist Church”, a name that has continued until this day (The name Hazelwood had been chosen because of the local farm that had been given the same name).
The church began meeting in Mr. Lowe’s home but soon had to move to the home of Mr. Thomas for space reasons. Once again, the church continued to grow in size, causing Hazelwood to change locations. The church rented a vacant store from Mr. A. Bachman for $3 a month and began meeting on a weekly basis.
On July 6, 1903 the church was officially organized. The church once again had to move location as it had now grown in size. They secured a tent from the YMCA and began gathering on a weekly basis at their new location. Following the inaugural gathering, Charles Althoff was examined publicly and was ordained to Gospel ministry that afternoon. A Building Committee was selected and a collection was taken to purchase a church building. The “Ladies Aid” paid for the shingle roof on the church and 9 years later paid for the tin roof. In addition, they purchased 204 chairs, paid for the concrete floor for the assembly hall, and painted the church.
Over the years the community that surrounds Hazelwood Baptist Church has changed. The focus and goal of HBC has always been the same—to grow in the knowledge, love and devotion of Christ as we seek to glorify God in carrying out the Great Commission. We give thanks to God for his grace and blessing upon HBC since its founding.
- Dr. E.Y. Mullins, President of the Southern Baptist Seminary preached the dedicatory sermon on April 9, 1905.
- Charles Althoff served as pastor until he moved to Chicago in 1914. He returned to Louisville years later where he served as the pastor of Beechmont Baptist Church.
- There have been 20 pastors of Hazelwood Baptist Church throughout it’s history.
- The Longest tenured pastor was Robert Alston who served for 19 years.