Porter Free Will Baptist Church was founded on September 6, 1817, by Elder Rufus Cheney. Elder Cheney was born May 4, 1780, in Antrim, New Hampshire, began preaching at 23 years of age, and was ordained in 1810. After assisting in the establishing of a church in Attica, NY, the Lord led him to Porter (Township), Ohio, where he settled his family and organized the first church in Porter Township. The church was established Saturday, September 6, 1817, in a schoolhouse near Wait’s Station (now Slocum), on Ward’s Run. The new church was originally known as The First Church of the Free Will Baptists of Porter Township, now known as Porter Free Will Baptist Church. Being the only church within the valley, the congregation quickly grew to more than one hundred members.
Pastor Cheney returned to New York about 1823, leading an effort to build a house of worship in Attica. He served as pastor of the Attica church until about 1836, at which time he headed west, focused on church planting efforts in Wisconsin. Documents indicate that his family settled for a period of a few years in Girard, Erie County, PA, where two churches were established. In time, he moved westward to Wisconsin, where he organized the New Berlin Church (1840), and the Honey Creek Church (1841). These were the first two Free Will Baptist churches founded within the state.
On August 30, 1869, Pastor Cheney was called home to be with the Lord. He was indeed one of Free Will Baptists’ earliest church planters.
Porter remains the oldest Free Will Baptist Church in the state of Ohio, which has remained Free Will Baptist since its inception.