What is now known as the Caton Bible Chapel came into existence through the efforts of circuit riding Baptist preacher/evangelist Thomas Sheardown. Elder Sheardown began holding meetings in the town, which was then known as No. 1, at the Miller Schoolhouse in 1830. Over the course of the next year and a half, brother Sheardown returned several times, sometimes staying for a period as long as one week. He would begin with prayer meetings as early as 5 o’clock AM and continue with services that often stretched till 9:00 PM. These services were held in the No. 1 White Schoolhouse (Breeze), the No. 3 Schoolhouse (Honness), and the No. 4 Red Schoolhouse. As interest grew, the brethren felt led of the Lord to officially organize as a church, and so in the home of Nelson Wollcott, on August 23, 1832, the church officially came into existence. The meeting was organized under the auspices of the Tioga Baptist Conference with ministers representing Catlin, Hornby, Elmira, Southport, Big Flats, and Tioga as delegates called to examine the doctrine and practice of the body. Rev. P.D. Gillett of Elmira moderated the meeting, and Elder Thomas Sheardown delivered the message taken from Philippians 2:12. At the time of organization, Caton was part of Painted Post, and so the church was known as The First Baptist Church of Painted Post.
During its early years, the church was served by various pastors of the churches in fellowship with the Tioga Conference, with Rev. Sheardown as the first acting pastor. Services were held in the different schoolhouses in the area, but it soon became apparent that a larger structure was needed to house the growing church. Land was secured and the structure known as the Baptist Meeting House opened its doors on September 18, 1840. This building served the congregation for a little over a decade when growth once again led them to build. The second structure, located on the Caton Road, was erected in 1852. By now, the church had adopted the name of the town, and was known as The First Baptist Church of Caton. This building served well for over one hundred and sixteen years, until growth once again demanded new construction.
Because of growing theological problems with the American Baptist Conference, the church had withdrawn its membership in the mid 1950’s. When the church relocated to its present spot, an entirely new name and organization was born: The Caton Bible Chapel. On May 19th, 1968, ground was broken for the new building, and by December the Chapel was completed. On December 8th, 1968, the congregation celebrated the blessings of God in a special dedication service with Dr. Monroe Parker as the guest speaker.
Today, the Caton Bible Chapel stands as a testimony to the vision and commitment of those early believers and to the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord. Our focus hasn’t changed over these many years - even though buildings have come and gone. We are still committed to the core truths of the Word of God. Who we are and what we are called to do and be is contained in our Purpose Statement and our Mission Statement adopted in 2006.
Our Purpose—Above all things, our purpose is to bring glory to God through heartfelt worship, committed discipleship, genuine fellowship, and compassionate outreach.
Our Mission—The Caton Bible Chapel seeks to be used of God in helping people become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ