It was the 1940's...
Amidst the hectic activity and population explosion related to the construction of the Alaska Highway, a small evangelical movement was started in Whitehorse alongside the military chapels and existing churches. The Gospel Hour led by Rev. and Mrs. S. C. Cronkhite met weekly in the Whitehorse Public Library. The Cronkhites, however, were scheduled to leave in the summer of 1946 and they prayed earnestly for a shepherd for their tiny flock.
Their prayer was answered when Rev. and Mrs. Harold Lee arrived in Whitehorse on May 5, 1946. Although planning to go to Alaska with the Alaska Evangelization Society, the Lees saw the need and decided to locate in Whitehorse. Rev. Lee, a man with boundless energy, held meetings in the local theatre and in the U.S. army chapel before renovating a dilapidated garage and moving it to a rented property on Second Ave. and Steele St. On Sept. 8, 1946 it was dedicated as the Gospel Chapel, replete with a $50 piano and a donated pulpit. The next year the ‘garage’ was replaced with a more suitable building obtained through Crown Assets. The property was also purchased and on Oct. 5, 1947 that site became known as Whitehorse Gospel Chapel.
On June 7, 1949, Rev. and Mrs. D. Smith arrived to continue the work started by the Lees. The Smiths took up residence in a newly acquired parsonage and spearheaded a plan for outreach to the youth of the community through a summer camping program. In 1953 a suitable spot was located on McClintock Bay of Marsh Lake. The following year Rev. Smith directed two camps with seventeen girls and twelve boys in attendance. Marsh Lake Bible Camp was dedicated in July of 1954.
The original camp on 2.1 acres of leased land consisted of one building (kitchen and dining hall), one cabin and two toilets. Campers and counsellors slept in tents. Today the camp, situated on 6.2 acres of titled land, has six log cabins for campers, staff cabins, and a lodge. The lodge, constructed in 1982, houses the kitchen, dining room and chapel. Staffed by volunteers, the camp can accommodate sixty campers and continues to minister to the children of the Yukon.
On June 25, 1955, after the congregation of the Whitehorse Gospel Chapel had drafted and approved a constitution, Whitehorse Independent Baptist Church was incorporated. The following year the name was officially changed to Whitehorse Baptist Church. Rev. D. L. Harbridge served as pastor during the transitional period.
On May 21, 1957 plans for a church building to be located at Second Avenue and Rogers Street were presented and approved by the congregation. The new building was dedicated on April 9, 1961 and remains the home of Whitehorse Baptist Church to the present. Rev. E. Hill was pastor during the building phase and remained until 1969.
Whitehorse Baptist Church was affiliated with the Gospel Missionary Association from 1960 to 1990 and from 1991 to the present is associated with the Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches of Canada (FEB).