History of First Baptist Church of Madison, MS

The congregation of First Baptist Church began with just 19 charter members when it organized on November 3, 1889. The following notation in the handwritten minutes recorded by Mr. W.T. Coleman, acting clerk, describes the beginning of this great church.

“A number of Christian brethren of regular Baptist Churches of Christ living in and near Madison Station, having set upon this the first Lord’s day of November, 1889, as a time for organizing a new church of the same faith and order, assembled at the Presbyterian house of worship at 4 p.m.”

The founding members named the church Madison Station Baptist Church and called J. R. Casten to serve as the first pastor at an annual salary of $150. For several years the group held services in the Presbyterian Church.

A memorial gift enabled the church to take the first step toward having its own facilities in 1891. At that time Mr. and Mrs. R.C. Lee donated a piece of property, which was located west of the Methodist church in memory of Mrs. Lee’s father, Isaac Bass. On March 6,1892, the church voted to meet with the New Hope Baptist Church, which was located west of Madison Station. Two years later, in 1894, the New Hope Church dissolved and gave their building, organ, Bible, songbooks, and stove to the Madison Station Church.

On January 23, 1894, men from both churches took down the New Hope building and moved it to Madison Station. There, Murry W. Bennett reconstructed it on the church’s property. The members from New Hope united with the Madison Station Church, and the combined membership was boosted to 77. Subsequently the name was changed to New Hope Madison Station Baptist Church.

Until 1926, the pastors were part-time, and most of them served only a year or two. During these early years, the church experienced little growth. In 1926, the church building was remodeled into a spacious, attractive two-story building. Tragedy struck on February 13, 1944. The church building burned. For the next five years the membership met with the Methodists.

In 1947, Mr. and Mrs. Ben L. McMillon, Sr., donated a lot for the church building.

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In 1949, construction was completed on the new building. The church was used as the Sanctuary until it was outgrown and the Fellowship Hall was added to serve the larger congregation. The church called a new pastor, Rev. Harold Jordan. He served for 17 years and became the first full-time pastor in 1953. Under his leadership, the members changed the name to Madison Baptist Church and added a new annex in 1952.

Rev. Billy McKay became the next pastor in 1967. He was the first to occupy the new pastorium. He led the church to build an activities building in 1972. In 1975, the church voted to construct a building that would serve as a fellowship hall and interim sanctuary. This same year, the church began a new outreach program. It remains the only one of its kind in our community. On October 30, 1977, the church purchased an office building and converted it to church office space.

In November of 1978, Dr. Roy McHenry became pastor. During his tenure, the church experienced dramatic growth in membership and added the positions of full-time Minister of Education and full-time Minister of Music.

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Dr. James Richardson came to the church as pastor in December of 1981. He led the church to realize its potential and to fulfill its mission to the rapidly growing community of Madison. Under Dr. Richardson’s leadership, the church changed its name to the First Baptist Church of Madison. An aggressive building plan was completed in December 1986, which included a sanctuary seating 950 people. Adult education spaces, choir suites, and a media center were located on the bottom floor of the sanctuary building. A new preschool/ children’s education center building was completed in 1987. By the end of that project, the church membership had grown to 1,500 with Sunday School enrollment up to 1,261. It became necessary to have two Sunday morning worship services to accommodate the increased numbers attending.

Also in 1987, the original Chapel was renovated in memory of Ben and Doris McMillon, Sr., who had donated the land for the building back in 1947. The shutters were added, new carpet, foyer floor, fresh paint and furniture that was purchased in Chattanooga, Tenn. from an antique dealer. It consisted of a table and two high back wicker chairs for the platform, plus a table for the foyer. Once again, it looked like the church it was built to be.

On November 3, 1989, First Baptist Church of Madison became 100 years old and a special celebration was held to commemorate this milestone in the church’s history. At that time, it had a church membership of 1,860 and a Sunday School enrollment of 1,591.

In October of 1990, two Sunday school schedules were offered to accommodate increased growth. The church purchased the drug store next door, and converted it into office space. It later purchased the veterinary clinic next to the church office and converted it into Sunday School rooms. According to church growth experts, First Baptist Madison was the fastest growing church in the state at that time.

Dr. Richardson retired in October 1992. Dr. John A. Temple became Pastor May 1, 1993. Under his leadership, the church continued to grow and increase in every area: attendance, membership, facilities and land.

Groundbreaking ceremonies for new education facilities were held on May 26, 1996. Leaders in this construction were Dr. Temple, Glenn Holder, Ben L. McMillon, Alan Moak and Paul Bagley. JH&H LTD, Architects and C.E. Frazier, Frazier Construction Company managed the project. The new building was completed in July, 1998 and it includes additional Sunday School classrooms, and a library with an attractive reading area. In addition, the Pre-school Day Care Center is also located in this building. It has an attractive nursery for babies, and rooms for all ages of children. There are also large well-equipped playgrounds.

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In 2001, a Christian Activities Center was built primarily for the youth program. Members who led this effort, along with Dr. Temple and Glenn Holder were: Don Cherry, David Boteler, Tommy Cottrell, Jeff Dukes, Tracy Huffman, Aaron Massey, Steve Rimmer and Cheryl Swain. The building has 27,000 sq. ft. and also provides space for Sunday School classes, ceramics, Wednesday night suppers, a walking track, basketball court, an exercise area, kitchen, and a private reception area for weddings, showers, church activities, etc.

The church converted the old fellowship hall building into Sunday School rooms in 2002 and the old activities building was converted to a maintenance building.

In 2003, through contributions of the church, the original Chapel building was completely renovated to nearly its original condition. The only piece of furniture saved from the fire that destroyed the church in 1944 was the Lectern and it is now in the present Chapel.

Dr. Temple, Glenn Holder and Architect Larry Singleton oversaw the renovation along with the Ben McMillon, Jr. family, and the Chapel is now a truly beautiful place for small weddings and funerals. It also serves as a Prayer Chapel for other services.

The church continues to have a spirit of enthusiasm. As of the 115th Anniversary Celebration, the church membership was at approximately 2,700 and the Sunday School enrollment was at 2,400.

Rev. Ronnie Falvey came as Pastor on May 4, 2008.