The minutes of the Baptist Church of Jesup were destroyed by fire in 1940. The oldest document to support the beginning of Baptist work in Jesup was a deed dated October 6, 1877, for a parcel of land 100’ by 100’, on which the Baptist Church stood.
On October 12, 1877, J.J. Black petitioned the Piedmont Association for acceptance of the Missionary Baptist Church of Jesup as a member. He reported two members by baptism and two by letter with a total membership of 14. No pastor was listed in his petition for membership. In 1878, in the Piedmont Associational minutes, Rev. J.A. Harper was reported as pastor.
In 1888, a group from the Baptist Church organized the Altamaha Baptist Church which was located at First and Bay Streets. In 1898, a storm destroyed the church. This resulted in the two groups reuniting. The deacons of the two churches were elected to serve and the name was changed to The Baptist Church of Jesup. Rev. J.D. Norris served as pastor with a combined membership of 76. The membership consisted of 24 men and 52 women.
On April 3, 1901, W.H. Roberson, S.B. Smith, J.F. Black, and Peter Westberry, deacons of The Baptist Church of Jesup, purchased a parcel of land from Ben Miliken on Macon Street. The lot where the church stood is the opposite side of Macon Street from SunTrust Bank. In April 1902, the new church building was completed, and the Baptists of Jesup moved in and changed their name to The First Baptist Church of Jesup. The Rev. W.R. Thompson was pastor.
It was on September 10, 1927, that A.W. Dowling, B.D. Purcell, E.H. Wells, C.H. Ellis, and J.L. Willis, trustees of The First Baptist Church, under the leadership of the Rev. W.B. Feagins, purchased the lot where the church is presently located. This lot was purchased from Mrs. Gertrude Cato.
About 1940, First Baptist Church became the name by common usage.
It was not until 1951, under the pastorate of Rev. Floyd T. Jenkins that the first house of worship on Brunswick Street was completed. During the pastorate of the Rev. Floyd T. Jenkins, two mission churches were organized; Memorial Baptist Church and Anderson Drive Baptist Church. Memorial Church was begun June 19, 1953, in a rented house in East Jesup. Mrs. Mabel Harper and Mrs. Warren Y. Smith, Sr. conducted a Vacation Bible School. From Vacation Bible School, a ministry grew to provide spiritual opportunity for that community. The first services were held on the first Sunday in March 1956, with the Rev. Barnett Ates as pastor. Within a year, the mission became a self-supporting church.
Anderson Drive Church was organized in 1961. The first service was conducted in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Johnny Cooper. Mr. and Mrs. Fred Anderson donated the land for the church.
God has blessed the historic journey of Jesup First Baptist Church throughout all the years. The past is prologue to the great opportunities of the present hour.
Under Dr. Felix Haynes’ leadership, the church embarked on and completed phases I and II of New Beginnings which included a new sanctuary, Senior Adult Department, Youth Department and new kitchen.
The year 2002 marked a significant milestone on this historic pilgrimage. The beautiful 900 plus seat sanctuary was dedicated on March 24, 2002. Senior Adult Sunday School Rooms, a Prayer Room, and a new Music Suite were dedicated in June 2003. On Sunday, September 17, 2006, Dr. Felix Haynes’ last Sunday as Pastor of First Baptist Church, Jesup, the new kitchen and the youth area (The Loft) was dedicated.
Dr. Michael VonMoss was called by the church on June 3, 2007, and led the church to complete New Beginnings III, which included completion of offices.
The sacrificial giving of the membership through “New Beginnings” resulted in the completion of these three phases in a continuing quest to upgrade all facilities. Thus, the entire history is a story of a dedicated people of God.
The future belongs to Him who has guided First Baptist Church to this glorious hour.