With jubilant praise and gratitude, First Baptist Church celebrates 156 years of serving God, the community of Yellow Springs and Greene County. Under courageous and visionary leadership and unwavering obedience to God’s plan for First Baptist God has blessed abundantly and is still doing so! Yet, God still has a spectrum of work for us to do. We believe we have been given a sacred mandate to impact people of all ethnicities and status with the gospel of Jesus Christ. That task is to find needs and met them, find hurts and heal them, and to find problems and solve them. We are humbled by God’s specific assignment to us, and His esteemed blessings that have an endless oasis that began 156 years ago.
First Baptist Church, according to records organized in May of 1863, by a group of dedicated and spiritually-minded persons. They held their initial meetings in a private residence, the home of the great, great grandparents of some of our current members. It was a two-story dwelling that still stands to today at 117 West center College Street in the Village of Yellow Springs.
After considerable sacrifice in 1876 members were able to purchase the edifice, which was the former Presbyterian Church, and now the former First Baptist Church located at the corner of Xenia Avenue and Whiteman Street.
These hale and hearty Christians, including Reverend Richard Herod, the first minister, Mr. Wilson Morgan, Mrs. Judy Morgan, Mrs. Hannah Donohue, to name a few, were led to sell food from their tables in addition to the sale of their livestock, hogs, chickens, and corn in order to raise money to make payments.
According to the deeds that were signed in 1869 the church was known as the “Anti-Slavery Baptist Church”. In searching for authentic history about the church and its beginning in preparation for the 100th Centennial celebration, a Mrs. Wilheminia Robinson, now deceased, a renowned historian and professor of history at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio interviewed some of the elder members and they recalled it being known as Zion Baptist.
A church cannot grow without the support of its members. It is as true today as it was many years ago, and these early Christians remained steadfast to keep the church alive and make it a growing institution that we all enjoy today.
The Sunday school served as a training ground for many of its former slave members who learned to read and write there. Early church records show that professors and ministers from Antioch College taught in the Sunday school. In 1863 it was known as the “Colored Sabbath School” but later was reorganized and was called The Judson Sunday School. Research show that this name was derived from the literature they purchased from the Judson Press. One of the most outstanding legacies the Sunday School has given our church was in 1959 when they sponsored a Calendar Tea in conjunction with Black History Week.
Clubs were organized with the intent of supporting and sustaining the needs of the church. The first club was named the Ideal Church Aid Society. We see this pattern continue to function even today and all throughout the inception of FBC with organizations such as Usher Boards, Missionary Society, Deacon and Deaconess Board, Youth Group, AWANA, and Choirs.
In the early 50’s a building fund was established to finance the needs of the growing church and many renovations were made. A basement was constructed. In the 1970’s a balcony was remodeled by adding an enclosure to provide an office for the pastor. A baptismal pool was installed which was used by neighboring churches as well. In the 1980’s the church installed central-air along with new equipment for the kitchen area. A transportation committee was formed and resulted in the purchase of a 15-passenger church van.
With the continuing growth of the church plus its needs, a building fund committee was also formed to work in conjunction with the building committee and in July of 1982 the church purchased land at the corner of King and Dayton Street with the goal to build a new church building.
At an official church meeting in 1987 the Deacon Board, chaired by Deacon Harvey Roberts made a recommendation that we proceed to build a new church and in January of 1997 construction began on the new edifice. This was done under the leadership of our former Pastor James A. Nooks who served as our inspiration in proceeding with the building of our new church.
We especially remember and give thanks to Deacon Harvey Roberts whose dedicated commitment was as a beacon of light that held us together in lighting the pathway to our new church.
After 134 years of service at the Xenia Avenue Location the Church held a final farewell and tribute on August 17th, 1997. Members assembled at the church at 9:30 AM and departed at 10:00 AM to walk to the newly completed church building. A special morning service was held that included music by the Mass Choir of First Baptist Church. An open house with tours of the church followed the service hosted by the ushers. Displays were on hand with detailed information about the new edifice. The event culminated with the unveiling of the cornerstone at 4:00 PM. The official dedication of the new building took place on September 21st 1997 with Pastor Vurn O. Mullins, as guest proclaimer who later became our interim pastor.
On August 17th thru 23rd 1997 a proclamation was issued proclaiming it as “First Baptist Week”. The proclamation was issued during the cornerstone dedication ceremony and reads as follows:
“The Village of Yellow Springs wishes to commend the First Baptist congregation on their initiative of faith and wishes them a long communal life in their new church. We know they will continue to be a vital part of our community and will play an active role in promoting moral and spiritual values in our citizens.”
Following in the footsteps of our founders, and when financial reserves were low members donated various items, such as floor tile in kitchen area as well as the fellowship hall, furniture for bathrooms, kitchen appliances including stove, refrigerator, dishwasher and many other necessities. Some purchased individual pews in honor of family members and stain glass windows were also donated. Monetary donations were made to complete the bricks outside of the fellowship hall.
We were truly blessed with the forming of the Landscape Committee who provided the surrounding churchyard with beautiful flowers, which were enjoyed by the entire community of Yellow Springs as they passed by.
A tutoring program, which aids to the needs of young people in the school system was conceived and led by several members of the church. Other ministries included a Praise Team, a Praise Dance Ministry and a Prayer Praise Ministry.
We are blessed to have an AWANA program that meets weekly where young people are taught the Word of God in a positive manner. Church members serve as leaders.
Music has been an important part of the church from the first organ purchase in 1899 to the baby grand piano that we were blessed with several years ago. Included in the music department are the Male Chorus, Senior Choir and for a time a Gospel Youth Choir and Praise Ministry.
In 2012 the pulpit committee met and with the assistance and help from the Regional Minister from ABC/Ohio, Pastor William E. Randolph, Jr. was selected by the church body to serve as our Pastor.
Pastor Randolph delivered his first sermon on October 7, 2012 and was officially installed on November 11, 2012.