The Great Commandment
We as a congregation seek to fulfill this commandment individually through discipleship, and as a church through worship, service and outreach to our community and world.
The Great Commission
We are committed to spreading the good news of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection as salvation, continuing to fulfill this ongoing commission.
The Baptist Faith and Message
The 5 Purposes of the Church
We believe there are 5 main purposes of the Church. These are eloquently explained in the book The Purpose Driven Church and its companion program 40 Days of Purpose by Rick Warren. This material and the associated conferences and resources are now part of the Purpose Driven series of resources from its own organization at www.purposedriven.com.
Our Church History
The First Baptist Church of Sandersville was constituted June 25, 1859 by Elders Asa Duggan, Isaac Smith, J.L. Warren and J.W. Coston, with four members: Mr. and Mrs. J.M.G. Medlock, Dr. N.H. Hollifield and Mrs. Ann Cary. The Rev. Carlos Stevens served as pastor for a short time, after which the church called the Rev. T.J. Adams, who pastored the church periodically over a twenty-year span.
Church growth was slow in the beginning. By 1860, there were sixty-two members. During this period, the church was without a building and worshipped wherever permitted. The Methodists and Baptists shared the use of an academy as a place of worship for a period of time. Afterwards, a “union” church building was erected in the Old City cemetery and used by both denominations. Later, the Christian Church offered the use of their facilities for one Sunday each month.
In 1866, the church was still small in number and the idea of building deemed an immense undertaking. Also, it was just after the war and everything was in an unsettled condition. However, a few ladies decided to make an attempt to build a church.
After hard and zealous work, the committee succeeded in securing sufficient funds, and the building was erected at the corner of South Harris and West Church Streets. On the second Sunday in May 1873, the Reverend A.J. Battle, President of Mercer University, preached the dedication sermon. The congregation decided that since the debt of the building was paid, the church should have services twice a month.
The Women’s Missionary Society was organized in 1875 or 1876 with Mrs. Louisa Smith serving as President. It is believed to be one of the oldest in the state. Some years later, that passion for missions led Miss Jennie Corinne Mayo to leave the church to serve as a missionary in the Belgian Congo where she died and was buried.
In 1898, under the leadership of the Rev. Aquilla Chamlee, the church constructed a building on the corner of West Church and South Harris Streets. This building was erected for approximately $20,000. The stained glass windows were donated by individuals or by groups, as memorials to loved ones. There were gifts of lumber, other materials, and labor.
The cornerstone was laid on July 27, 1905. A history of the church was read at that service and placed in the cornerstone along with other memorabilia.
In 1905, the church began full-time services. During Dr. Chamlee’s ministry the membership grew to over three hundred in number.
The T.I. Harrison educational building was completed in 1938 during the pastorate of Dr. Carey T. Vinzant. Dr. Vinzant was also instrumental in purchasing an organ and for establishing the church library. He later became the President of Tift College, following in the footsteps of Dr. Chamlee and W. Fred Gunn.
During the 1950s, the growth of the church made it necessary to hire a fulltime Music Director, Newsom Summerlin, Jr., and the first full-time secretary, Mrs. Edna E. King. Interest was renewed in building new church facilities following the Celebration of the One Hundredth Anniversary of the church on June 25, 1959.
A dedication service for the new building located on Mathis Circle was held on Sunday, March 4, 1962, with Dr. Dick H. Hall of First Baptist Church of Decatur bringing the dedicatory sermon. Three former pastors of the church – Dr. Chamlee, Dr. Vinzant, and the Rev. Brown – returned to participate in this significant service.
Rev. Lee Lacey became pastor on May 1, 2002. Under his leadership, the church has grown to its current membership of over 900. Once again, we find ourselves in the exciting position of seeking the Lord’s direction concerning the enlargement of our facilities.
In considering the history of the First Baptist Church, perhaps the most appropriate ending can be taken from the conclusion of the original history, which was enclosed in the cornerstone of the 1905 structure: “Today we enter upon a new epoch in the history of our church. It has stood firm, contending for the faith and looking only to Christ for deliverance and success. Many precious seasons of the Spirit’s presence have been enjoyed. Success hascrowned labor, and today the church stands upon those principles given by our father – ‘Salvation by grace and the final preservation of the saints.’