A Picture of Our History

Photographs throughout the years that show the blessing that God has been to this house of worship that sits on the corner of Broad and Main Streets. May God always be glorified through the gatherings of His people in this place.

The History of First Baptist Church

On April 23, 1831, three men and six women met and organized the Darlington Baptist Church of Christ with Rev. W. Q. Beattie serving as pastor. In 1912, it became First Baptist Church of Darlington by amendment to the original charter. The church became a member of the Welsh Neck Baptist Association in 1832. During the first 30 years, membership grew to 92 whites and 212 blacks and over the years reached a peak of approximately 600.

Twenty two pastors have served the congregation of our church. The church building shown (to the right) was dedicated in 1859. This is the second house of worship. Originally located at the rear of the church lot, it was moved forward and the framework was used in the construction of the Hardin Building built in 1924 for the purpose of Sunday School classrooms.

There have been many changes to the church campus over its lifetime. In 1912 the current sanctuary building was dedicated. A fire in December of 1935 resulted in the loss of the organ, carpet, pulpit furniture and choir furnishings with damage to the floor, pews, ceiling and windows. A second Sunday School building was added in 1956 and named after our beloved pastor, William S. Jones. In 1975 the Illy McFall Memorial Building was constructed through a gift from her mother, Mrs. W. H. McFall, to be used towards a youth activities building and in 1983, the E. S. Howle Fellowship Hall was built, made possible by a gift from Mrs. Rosa Howle and family as a memorial to her husband. In 1997 extensive renovations took place to the campus. Administrative offices and a choir suite were added to the sanctuary building. The Jones Building and Harden Building were refurbished to offer a better environment for the Sunday School.

In 1984 we lost the steeple to the sanctuary building during high winds one Wednesday night as members were enjoying their Family Night supper in the E. S. Fellowship Hall. It was only by the grace of God that no one was injured as a result of that incident. It took 10 months to receive a 60’ steeple to replace the 40’ one that fell.

From its beginning First Baptist has been a mission oriented church. It has licensed and/or ordained more than 21 members into the ministry. In addition more than 20 individuals or groups have gone into the mission field either at home or abroad. Vacation Bible School began in 1938 and continues to be strong to this day. The Macedonia Baptist Church on S. Main Street was established in 1866 after the War Between the States when many of our black membership left First Baptist to organize their own church. In 1959 the church recognized the need for a mission to serve the individuals living in the Mont Clare community. A committee of deacons from First Baptist recommended financial support for a pastor to serve this new mission and offered moral support and guidance to the Month Clare membership. This new church began with a membership of approximately 96 members. In 2005 First Baptist sponsored a newly established church at the Bethea Baptist Retirement Community, named the Bethea Baptist Church. First Baptist has supported a diaper ministry in Jenkins, Kentucky, by providing young mothers with diapers and wipes and volunteers from our church travel there for a week each year to deliver these items and assist in whatever way they can. In addition First Baptist once provided a Trunk Ministry one Saturday each month by handing out food items to the needy in Darlington. We support The Lord Cares, Free Medical Clinic, Gideons, Raceway Ministry, Just For Women, Operation Christmas Child and many more. A Boy Scout Troop was sponsored for over 15 years and we had a self-supporting kindergarten from 1959-1974. We are now one of the sponsors of the Soup Kitchen begun in 2016. In April of 2010 when a tornado came through Darlington and damaged Cain Elementary School, First Baptist opened its entire campus up to Cain to use as their school until they were able to return to their school building.

First Baptist Church has grown physically and spiritually throughout its many years and has offered its members the resources for growth. It has had a strong WMU organization for many years. A church bus has made it possible for carrying groups on retreats, etc. Meals are provided on Wednesday nights to our members and are delivered to our shut-ins. Courses such as “Walk Thru The Old Testament”; “Walk Thru The New Testament”; “40 Days of Purpose”, and “Worship: Believers Experiencing God” just to mention a few have been offered to the members.

First Baptist was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991. The church cemetery is thought to be second in the state of its size as having the most notable people buried there. There are 146 known burials – 57 were members of First Baptist, 4 of who were pastors at First Baptist and 40 children are buried there.

First Baptist continues to move forward under the Lordship of Christ as we serve in the strength of the Holy Spirit.