who we are
The initial work to establish a Baptist church in Pearl River began in 1900 and resulted in a small congregation. Established only briefly, they disbanded within a short time. The continuation of that work, which is now known as First Baptist Church of Pearl River was officially organized on August 4, 1912 with seven charter members. The Pearl River Methodist Church shared their building with the new Baptist congregation.
The day after being established, many friends, neighbors, and families met on the River's edge near an old pump house to baptize four new members.
The new church was eager to make good on their vision. They began a building in August 1913, just one year after being established. Great patience and purpose was required as it took about seven years to complete the new building. It was dedicated September 5, 1920.
The membership of First Baptist Church increased. In March 1923, FBC sent messengers to St. Louis to petition the Southern Baptist Convention to become a member church at their Annual Meeting. First Baptist Church was invited and became members of the SBC. One year later, First Baptist Church elected her first deacons: Enoch Blackwell, Ellis Crawford, and O.J. Smith.
Having begun with only seven charter members, First Baptist Church, grew to 140 by 1927.
The need for various new amenities increased with growth. In 1927 the church purchased a large iron bell which beckoned the community to gather for worship. In 1928, FBC held her first baptism in the new baptistry. Electric lights were installed in 1935. In 1940 the church was authorized to purchase gas to heat the building. A sizeable down payment of $50 was required to become a gas "customer."
God prospered His work at First Baptist Church. Ministries and facilities were expanded. What began as a meager $720 annual budget grew to almost $350,000. Records indicate that the first Vacation Bible School was conducted in 1943; That the church began giving 10% of her tithes and offerings to the SBC Cooperative Program in 1945; And that a bus ministry was begun in 1946. A new concrete building was also constructed in 1946 at a cost of $669.64. FBC dedicated her first parsonage in 1950.
Church membership continued to increase. This brought the need for a larger sanctuary. In 1962, First Baptist Church built and dedicated a new sanctuary. Other expansions were made to church facilities over the next two decades to accomodate growth in membership and ministries.
Sue Byrd organized the first choir in 1963. In 1975 Ed & Mina Oglesby organized a children's church ministry. The church's growing vision led to the construction of the children's education building dedicated in May 1977. Additional ministry and construction came in the 1980's and 90's. The youth of the church took their first recorded mission trip to Bayou L'Ourse, Louisiana. Tom & Angie Myers organized the first senior adult ministry in 1980. The church purchased two mobile units to accomodate Sunday School growth in 1981. The "Smith" property was purchased in 1982. A new parsonage was dedicated in 1986.
On August 29, 2005 Hurricane Katrina made landfall in New Orleans. Life was greatly disrupted across Southeastern Louisiana, including the Pearl River community. Great devastation provided great ministry opportunities through regional Disaster Relief partnerships with many churches and State Conventions across the U.S. Disaster Relief outreach continued for two years. FBC hosted and fed hundreds of volunteers as they collaborated to meet many local needs. Along with great devastation many congregants of the FBC family were transferred, displaced, and many moved away from the area.
After 100 years of growth and service the church expanded once again. A new sanctuary was built and dedicated in 2011. First Baptist Church of Pearl River continues to seek God's will and to spread the gospel in our community and around the world as God leads and enables.
The history of First Baptist Church is that of a shared vision. Through the generations -past, present, and future- God has and will provide leaders with a vision for growth to prosper His work through His church. God still calls this family of faith to reach her community for Christ and to ministers to the needs of Pearl River through both word and deed.