FBC Gainesville History

Shiloh Baptist church was founded. Services were held the first Sunday of each month.

Pastor William Manning and wife Mary were the first to serve Shiloh Baptist Church. His salary for the year was $56.87.

August 7, 1831
First Baptisms: Mr. Day and Mrs. Wells. Took place in a near by creek at 8:30am.

Under Pastor Asa Chandler the church was deeded property between Main Street and Bradford Street. The church built a wood building. Upon moving into the new building the church changed its name from Shiloh to Gainesville Baptist Church.

Fire destroys the wood building. The church built a temporary building near the original site. There was conflict over not building a brick building as planned, but war are rebuilding depleted money resources.

The Atlanta and Charlotte Air Line Railroad line, which became the Southern Railway System opened. The sudden ease of travel caused people to move to the area and triple the population during the 1870's.

The church paid $350 for the old Presbyterian lot on the opposite side of Main Street from the old Gainesville Baptist site. This began a 9 year struggle to build a BRICK building. As soon as the building was started, 10 ladies met at the home of Mrs. Truman H. Sanford and organized a society to aid in building the new church and for general benevolent work. They each donated $1 with which they purchased cloth to make aprons, bonnets and other garments. They sold the items to make a profit for the church. While they were sewing, the Bible was read aloud by one of the group. In 1896, this group would evolve into the Woman's Missionary Society of the First Baptist Church.

Pastor Henry Clay Wilkes is not only leading the church in their building project, but he is also key in the establishment of the Georgia Baptist Convention's Georgia Female Seminary (later to become Brenau College).

August 8, 1882
The new brick building was dedicated. The now 51 year old church was made up of 158 members and was paying the pastor $600/year. With the building complete the women turned their attention to raising money for a new organ that was later purchased for $85.

The church began a mission Sunday school two miles out of town. A year later the church's old pews, a Bible and a stove were donated and the mission was constituted as New Shiloh Baptist Church.

February 14, 1900
Resolutions changing the name of the church from "Gainesville Baptist" to "The First Baptist Church of Gainesville" were read and adopted.

The church was wired for electricity, forty-seven new members joined, and the church voted to raise $300 to "buy a horse and buggy for the pastor and tend to him and his wife as a token of our love to them."

December 30, 1906
The church unanimously resolved to build a new building on the corner of East Washington and Green Streets. The old property was sold, and the new bought for $8,000. The total costs of the building were around $60,000 and were a huge challenge to the congregation.

August 29, 1909
Dedication services were held for the new building. The church sat 1,100 and had beautiful wooden pews arranged in a semicircular fashion around the pulpit. At this time the church had a membership of 702.

In the first published church directory it reads, "Our church has had no better year during all its life than the past year." It reported 87 additions by baptism and 47 by letter, contributions totaling $14,658.01 received from 325 contributing members, and an average Sunday school attendance of 538.

The first church budget was established and the first secretary was hired.

March 29th - April 5, 1931
First Baptist celebrated its Centennial with a weeklong program aimed at involving the entire city. The effort was made to raise awareness and money for a new Sunday school building that would include 32 class rooms, a kitchen, central assembly room, nursery and primary department.

April 1936
Just after the completion of the new Sunday school building, the church was faced with a devastating event when a tornado went through the center of town destroying everything in its path. The church roof and dome were wrecked and other damage was inflicted. Nine members lost their lives in the tornado.

First Baptist Church began its sponsorship of Troop 26 of the Boy Scouts of America.

December 1, 1938
A fire in the adult assembly room of the Sunday school building caused $13,000 worth of damage.

December 31, 1939
The church paid off their last note due on the damage done by the tornado and the fire. They celebrated entering the year 1940 debt free.

September 10, 1941
The church voted to broadcast its Sunday morning services over the local radio station: WGGA at the cost of $8.50/month.

January 11, 1942
The Sunday school building was made available to the Red Cross for use in its blood donor program taking place during WWII.

The church hired its first educational director: Miss Bess Moses.

February 12, 1960
A terrible fire reduced the building where First Baptist gathered for over half a century to an empty shell. Saddened by the fire, but not defeated, the congregation met in Brenau College's auditorium until a new house of worship could be built.

March 27, 1960
The rest of Herbert Dean's property on Green Street was purchased for the new church building. A portion of it had already been purchased as the congregation was outgrowing their current site.

Sunday, June 4, 1961
Ground breaking ceremonies were held for the construction of the new building.

July 19, 1961
A donation was received to cover the costs of building a scout cabin on the new church grounds.

September 16, 1962
The first services were held in the new building.

The first full time minister of music was hired: Miss Lillian Howell.

The initiation of the First Baptist Kindergarten to provide religious-oriented education for pre-school children of all denominations took place.

June 3, 1973
The church held its first homecoming. A covered dish dinner filled the Civic Center and Dr. Franklin Owen was the guest minister.

The Family Life Center was constructed to provide members and the community with a place to fellowship and get fit.

A balcony was added during the remodeling of the sanctuary to meet the growing needs of the congregation.

First Baptist broke ground on their 3rd Century building project that will include educational space, a banquet hall, state of the art nursery and children's facilities, and a choir suite. A columbarium was built, housing loved ones for the first time in the church's history.