A SHORT HISTORY OF THE FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH
“A Hand Pointing to the Sky”
A hand on a steeple – a finger lifted heavenward, symbolic of the church’s ministry of pointing the way to God; pointing the lost to the Savior; pointing the Christian to God’s full measure of love; pointing the discouraged to the source of peace; and pointing the indifferent to the One he has forgotten. A hand on a steeple – reminding its members of a responsibility and a glorious privilege – symbolic of our hands dedicated to point the way to God through our Lord, Jesus Christ.
On March 7, 1841, the Reverend Joshua S. Callaway stood in a small room of a home in the newly-founded city of Griffin and led a group of fourteen persons gathered together to constitute the First Baptist Church of Griffin. From this original group, the membership grew to 274 in 1882, to 445 members in 1900, 793 members in 1920, and 1795 members today.
The first church building was erected in 1846 on the southern side of Solomon Street between Hill Street and Eighth Street. Eight years later the church sold this property to purchase property on the southwest corner of Hill and Taylor streets. Construction was begun in 1860 on the church Sanctuary, which was erected for a sum of $16,000 and stood until its demolition in 1964 in order to erect the present Sanctuary on the same site. The new Sanctuary used the same Doric column and distinctive steeple found in the original Sanctuary. The renowned bronze hand with the index finger pointing upward to heaven was retained atop the steeple. Most recently the current Sanctuary, constructed in 1966, was renovated and rededicated on June 15, 2008. Renovations included cosmetic restorations, such as painting, plaster repair, and carpeting; modification of pews to allow for wheelchair access; and state-of-the-art sound amplification and lighting systems.
As the church grew in its present location other buildings were added: the Ward Building, adjoining the Sanctuary, was constructed in 1928; the Bramblett Building was constructed in 1937; the Cheatham Building in 1952; the Family Life Building in 1981; the Child Enrichment Center in 2000, along with extensive renovations to the Cheatham and Ward buildings; and the Scout Lodge was erected in June 2001. Additional outbuildings include the Caregivers House, housing our Clothes Closet; the Harris House, housing our Furniture Ministry; and the Carlisle Buildings, currently being used by several local businesses.
Churches established by First Baptist Church through the years include: Mt. Zion Baptist Church (1867), Devotie Baptist Church (1888), McIntosh Baptist Church (1894), East Griffin Baptist Church (1901), Oak Hill Baptist Church (1902), Calvary Baptist Church, now Dayspring Community Church (1944), Edward Street Baptist Church (1949), Vineyard Baptist Church (1953), Southside Baptist Church (1955), and West College Baptist Church, now Sharon Baptist Church (1957).
In 1948 a Kindergarten program was begun by Mrs. D.W. Simonton. Today our Weekday Program encompasses classes for twos, threes, fours, and Kindergarten, with a present enrollment of over 170. In 2007 the church launched the Griffin School for the Arts, with a faculty of over 20 and an enrollment of over 70 persons involved in the performing, visual, and dramatic arts.
In addition to a dynamic Sunday School program, First Baptist Church conducts various discipleship classes/small groups. The Women on Mission, XYZ, Music Ministry, Children’s Ministry, and Student Ministry involve hundreds of people on the weekly basic. First Baptist Church continues to be the hands and feet of Christ in ministering to the less fortunate in our community, and conducts mission trips and projects in North American and overseas.
First Baptist has a wonderul history of pastors, ministerial staff, and lay leaders. Upon his retirement in March 2002, Dr. Bruce Morgan became Pastor Emeritus and continues to serve in that capacity today.