First Missionary Baptist to celebrate 140 years

Published 11:00 pm Wednesday, October 3, 2012

First Missionary Baptist Church will celebrate its 140th birthday on Oct. 14 and will dedicate a historic marker commemorating the church’s status as a registered historical place to visit in Pike County.

“The historical landmark was purchased from the Alabama Historical Association to commemorate 140 years of Christian service as the oldest African American church in the Troy vicinity,” said Charlesetta Jones, church member. “First Missionary Baptist Church was organized on July 11, 1872, about 13 years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed setting the Negro race free.”

Jones said that blacks were allowed to worship at the white’s Baptist church and the ministers in those churches taught them.

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“As they learned, their faith in the Baptist doctrine increased,” Jones said. “In time, they were advised to establish a church for themselves with the work of the church in its entirety. Those attending the church at that time were from Perote to Luverne.

“The Rev. Wright of Perote was called to pastor the church and it was declared a Regularly constituted Independent Missionary Baptist Church. People came from all around to hear the Rev. Wright preach. He was called ‘John the Baptist.’”

Jones said the first baptismal service of the church was held in 1873.

“Regular church services were held in a brush arbor and later the small flock saw the need for building their first church,” Jones said. “The church building was constructed on Lake Street and was known as the Baptist Bottom Church.”

The church continued to grow and the church building was remodeled and enlarged. A school, Lake Street Baptist Academy, was built at the same site.

“Due to progress, the people became dissatisfied with the church in the bottom and the present church site was purchased in 1906,” Jones said. “Moving day was July 29 and 700 members moved into the building.”

In 1957, the total indebtedness of the church had been paid and, sadly, the church building was destroyed by fire.

“The church family banded closely together and church services were held at the Academy Street School and the Masonic Hall,” Jones said. “The present site church was built in 1959.”

Jones said a complete history of First Missionary Baptist Church will be a highlight of the 140th anniversary of the church at 11 a.m., Sunday, Oct. 14.

All friends of FMBC are invited to join the membership is celebrating this very special occasion and to participate in the dedication of the historic marker.

“The purpose of the Alabama Historical Commission marker program is to educate the public about the history of the property,” Jones said.

“The historical marker documents the FMBC as one of the interesting places to visit in the state of Alabama and especially here in Pike County.”