who we are
The vision to establish a Baptist Church in Pearl River originated in 1900. The result of that work was a small, short-lived congregation too soon disbanded. The continuation of that work, which is known today as First Baptist Church of Pearl River, was officially organized on August 4, 1912. Rev. Leon Sloane, from the FBC Slidell, presided over that meeting. Seven people were in attendance. They became the Charter Members who established FBC Pearl River. The Pearl River United Methodist Church hosted that inaugural meeting.
The day following the establishment of FBC, many friends, neighbors, and families met on the River's edge near an old pump house to baptize four new members.
The newly chartered church was eager to make good on their vision. The first building was begun just one year after being established, August 1913. Patience and determination were watchwords of the build in that it took about seven years to complete. The new building 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 welcomed and became members of the SBC. One year later, First Baptist Church elected her first deacons: Enoch Blackwell, Ellis Crawford, and O.J. Smith.
First Baptist Church grew from seven charter members to 140 by 1927.
The need for 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:
Church membership continued to increase bringing 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 ministry. The church's growing vision led to the construction of the children's education building which was 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 the Southeastern Louisiana region, including our 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 thousands of volunteers as they collaborated with us to meet many local needs. Along with great devastation many congregants of the FBC family were transferred or displaced. Many moved away from the area; However, many Southshore residents moved to the Northshore because of total devastation within that region.
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 love her community and to reach out with the gospel of Jesus Christ as we minister to the needs of Pearl River in both word and deed.