The Baptist Church of Jackson (white) was organized January 29, 1837.  It is recorded that membership consisted of 49 white members and 41 Black members.  By 1867, the Association reported a total membership of 117.

In November of 1867, the colored members of the church wrote a letter withdrawing their membership from the white church, and stating their plans to organize a church for themselves.

The First Baptist Church was organized April 22, 1868.   Trustees Aaron Banks and Jeff Brown purchased land on Lancaster Street from W.E. Butler to build the first organized Negro Baptist Church in Jackson after the Civil War.  Rev. W.T. Webb was the first pastor of the newly established church.  The congregation worshiped at this location for approximately five years before deciding that a new building was needed.

Property was purchased from Mr. Morris Butler, Jr. and donated to the church by the pastor, Rev. Webb.  The location was on Webb Street which bears the pastor’s name.  Rev. Webb served this congregation for about thirty-five years; toiling, praying, and successfully carrying out the great commission until his death.

Other ministers called to the pastorate included Reverends J. Haynes, J.W. Lester, W. Cowan, and L.H. Allen.  After the resignation of Rev. Allen, the congregation called Rev. J. H. Taylor.  He faced a great task of building the membership and leading the members into a much-needed building program.  Under Rev. Taylor’s leadership, in 1922, the new First Baptist Church was completed.  It was a stone building consisting of an auditorium with a seating capacity up to three hundred, a basement, and a baptismal pool.  Rev. Taylor served as pastor for twenty-five years.

After the death of Rev. Taylor, Rev. Frank Reed was called to the pastorate serving until 1940.  Following Rev. Reed was Rev. J.W. Smith, who served for a short period of time.  Again, Rev. Reed was called to lead; and he served until Rev. M.H. Ribbins accepted the call to the pastorate.

In 1943, Rev. Ribbins encouraged the membership to invest for the future.  The congregation readily accepted this idea and began purchasing War Bonds.  Due to this profitable investment, the pastor and congregation decided to purchase a new church site located on the corner of Tanyard and Institute Streets.  Under Rev. Ribbins’ leadership, special annual days/programs were established.

After Rev. Ribbins resignation, Rev. W.K. Seals and Rev. T. D. Howard lead the congregation respectively.  During Rev. Howard’s seven year tenure, the pastor and congregation agreed to exchange its present location, Tanyard and Institute Streets, to the city for the purpose of erecting the South Jackson Elementary School.

During a brief period, Rev. J.M. Williams served as pastor.  December 1953, Rev. S.H. Herring was called to the pastorate of the church.  During his brief stay at First Baptist, the city again saw the need to purchase the properties of the parsonage and the South Jackson School, which were owned by the church, for the purpose of constructing a new highway.

Shortly after Rev. Herring’s resignation, the Official Board in its search for an appropriate site discovered the location for the parsonage at 586 Baltimore Street.  The church proceeded with the purchase.

In 1956, the church called one of its most outstanding ministers, Rev. W.G. Terry of Byron, Texas.  Rev. Terry supported the membership in their search for a proper site to build the new church.  On February 17, 1957, the church purchased one of the most beautiful sites in the city located at 433 Madison Street.  The official ground breaking ceremony for the new sanctuary was held on Sunday, September 23, 1957.

On March 8, 1959, the fulfillment of a noble dream became a reality when the congregation, led by Pastor Terry, marched from the old building to the present building.  A host of friends, organizations, and churches of the city joined in this great march.  The city provided police escorts, which included our first Negro policewoman, Mrs. Helen Porter.  The completion of this beautiful edifice, built to the glory and honor of God, represents the faith, prayers, inspiration, and sacrificial labors and gifts of its members and friends.

In 1960, after Rev. Terry’s resignation, the congregation was without a shepherd.  January, 1961, Rev. J.M. Cunningham was called to the pastorate.  Rev. Cunningham served untiringly until 1966.

July 20, 1966, after much prayer, God guided us to call Rev. Dennis Epting. His constant concern was for the membership and that we must be about our Father’s business.  Under the guidance of Rev. Epting, our church continued its progress.  The total indebtedness of both the old parsonage and the church had been liquidated.  A new parsonage, located at 421 Madison Street, had been erected for the comfort of our pastor and his family.

September 1976, Rev. W. C. Morrison of Oakland, California was called to lead the congregation.  During his tenure, the following deacons were ordained; T.M. Hodges, Timothy Davis and John H. Washington.  Several upgrades were made to the facility and improvements were made in the order of services and programs.  Rev. Morrison served for nine years.

On February 18, 1985, Rev. John Paul Jones accepted the invitation to the pastorate.  Under his leadership, the Christian Education Program was enhanced, well-rounded programs for our children and youth were expanded, committees established; Board of Christian Education, Educational and Recreational, Church Workers Council, Public Relations, Mission and Evangelism, Scholarship, and African Relief.  Other accomplishments during his tenure include: Dedication of Memorial Plaque for deceased members, instituting weekly Bible Study, and purchasing new furniture for Sunday School classrooms.  December 1986, groundbreaking ceremonies were held for our new Fellowship Hall.  On April 14, 1987, the new Ausie Brooks Fellowship Hall was dedicated.

In the early 90’s four women were selected to serve as trustees for the first time in the church’s history:  Mrs. Mabel Davis, Mrs. Lerline Brooks, Mrs. Ernestine Mckinney, and Mrs. Vera Brooks.

Beginning in 1991, beautification of the sanctuary was still in progress, as well as the purchase of a decorative lighting system by families and friends in memory of their loved ones, dedication of new pulpit and altar furniture in memory of deceased family members, and several revivals were held.

Brother Ronnie Bond, Brother Otis Fuller, and Brother Billy Dawson were ordained as Deacons, and the church purchased properties directly across the street, including the property of our member, Sister Mary Epperson who sold it to the church for a minimal price, and returned to the church her tithes from the sale.

2010 – PRESENT

On Sunday, September 5, 2010 at the close of morning worship service, Rev. J. Paul Jones passed his letter of resignation (effective November 30, 2010) to Brother Milton Davis, Chairman of the Deacon Board.  Soon after, a special meeting was called by Deacon Milton Davis for the purpose of selecting a minister to serve as interim pastor.  Rev. Ollie Patrick was selected to fill this interim position.

The Pastor Search Committee (Deacon Milton Davis, Deacon Otis Fuller, Deacon Ron Taylor, Chairman of Trustee Board- Roy David Manuel, Trustee Donald Dinwiddie, Trustee Debora Spencer, Trustee Sarah Chatman, and members Mary McCorkle and Mary Cunningham) served for several months, praying and searching for a leader.  The committee presented two candidates to the congregation for consideration to fill the pastorate.  On October 4, 2011, a voting meeting was called and Rev. Marvin Mercer, President of the TBM&E Convention presided.  The voting was conducted by secret ballot.  After careful counting of the ballots, Rev. Mercer announced that Rev. William L. Watson had been elected as pastor of First Baptist Church.  On Sunday, October 7, 2011, Rev. Watson delivered his first sermon as Pastor of First Baptist Church.

Under the leadership and guidance of Pastor Watson, our church has experienced significant growth and improvement by welcoming over 400 new members to the fellowship, developed and ordained several members to the Deacons Ministry, and established and implemented several new ministries (with leaders) with leaders that included C.I.A. (Children in Action), New Members, College and Young Adult, Congregational Care, Intercessory Prayer, Singles Ministry, Nursery, Senior Care, and Noon Bible Study (Lunch and Learn).

The W.T. Webb Christian Leadership School has been established to honor the legacy of the church’s first pastor, W.T. Webb.  This school has been established to continue in the legacy of Christian Education, offering an abundance of courses to teach students about the word of God.  Some course selections include Christian Stewardship and Evangelism, The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit, Survey of the Old and New Testaments, and History of the African-American Church.

HFBC has undergone upgrades and renovations to strengthen the campus structures and ensure our facilities continue to move our ministry for the current times.  Pastor Watson’s leadership has guided us through the COVID-19 pandemic.  As the building may have been closed to our members, the church remained opened and attentive to the needs of not only members, but the community as well.  LIVE streaming and upgraded media equipment was installed to ensure our ministry was able to continue to provide the word of God to church family, local community, nation, and abroad.

As we forge ahead, we look forward with thanksgiving and great anticipation to what God has in store for Historic First Baptist, as we prayerfully continue to live out the vision and mission of this church.