Cov­ing­ton First Bap­tist Church had 13 when or­ga­nized in 1823

The Covington News - - LOOKING BACK -

The year fol­low­ing the in­cor­po­ra­tion of the City of Cov­ing­ton, 13 men and women held a meet­ing on June 21, 1823, to con­sti­tute a Bap­tist Church, with the Rev. Messrs. Joel Col­ley, Luke Rovin­son and Richard­son Pace as the con­sti­tut­ing coun­cil and Fran­cis Cook, clerk pro­tem. Rev. Joel Col­ley be­came the first pas­tor, John Al­mand the first trea­surer, and Hardy Mor­gan and Ge­orge Daniel, the first dea­cons.

By March 6, 1824, the mem­ber­ship was able to buy three acres of land on the north side of Dried In­dian Creek, where Wash­ing­ton St. School now stands, at a cost of $5. Records re­veal a res­o­lu­tion passed July 3, 1824, which “post­poned foot-wash­ing un­til we can get in our new house.” In Oc­to­ber of that year, Ge­orge Daniel be­came the first man li­censed to preach, and was later or­dained. The first Ne­gro mem­ber ad­mit­ted was Brother Glas­gow, property of Matthew Smith, Feb. 6 ’25. Also in ’25 con­tri­bu­tions for the sup­port of the gospel were sought; James Ham­brick was elected “singing clerk”; and the first prayer meet­ing was men­tioned, on Dec. 31 and be­came a fixed ap­point­ment on each Thurs­day night, on Nov. 2, 1827, un­til later years, when Wed­nes­day night be­came the mid­week ser­vice time.

Erec­tion of the first build­ing was com­pleted soon af­ter July 1826, and the body be­came quite vig­or­ous and vig­i­lant, as ev­i­denced by records of fre­quent ac­knowl­edge­ments of wrong do­ings, and oc­ca­sional ex­pul­sions from mem­ber­ship. At one time fully half of the mem­ber­ship were the colored race, and in 1827 leave was granted to Jerry, a colored brother, to preach in the church on May 4, ’27, and ev­ery suc­ceed­ing secnd Sab­bath. Three-day meet­ings were held once a year, with fre­quent ad­di­tions to the church at other reg­u­lar times of wor­ship. The sex­ton re­ceived $6 per year for his ser­vices. On May 31, 1828, J.R. Hand and John Al­mand were li­censed to preach.

The first House of Wor­ship was burned by Gi­rard’s Raiders, on July 22, ’63, with a quan­tity of cot­ton stored therein. The next church site was where the jail is now lo­cated, and dur­ing Re­con­struc­tion days ex­pe­ri­enced a bit­ter strug­gle for ex­is­tence. The third church build­ing is still stand­ing and is use as an apart­ment build­ing on Col­lege St. It was built while the Rev. J.M. Brit­tain was pas­tor, and was one time later used as a Chris­tian Sci­ence Church. Dr. Brit­tain was one of the church’s pas­tors who gained wide recog­ni­tion in other fields; he was an em­i­nent ed­u­ca­tor, and a pro­fes­sor at Old Emory Col­lege. An­other was Dr. F. M. Cheney, in­ven­tor of the well known “Cheney’s Ex­pec­to­rant,” still a pop­u­lar patent cough syrup. When the 1839 con­tro­versy arose over mis­sions, First Bap­tist chose and re­mained a mis­sion­ary church.

In 1905 a cor­ner lot one block from the pub­lic square, on Floyd and Elm Streets, with a nine-room pas­to­rium and room for a new church, which was com­pleted in 1910 un­der the lead­er­ship of Rev. E. R. Pendle­ton, pas­tor was pur­chased. Through the gen­eros­ity of N.S. Turner, the ad­join­ing lot on Floyd St. was pur­chased in 1917; and a $10,000 S.S. An­nex was built debt free thereon in ’28. The Ma­tron’s .S. Class ini­ti­ated this build­ing fund with a $1,000 gift. Fur­ther ad­di­tions in­cluded a mod­ern $116,000 Ed­u­ca­tion Build­ing in ’57; a $26,000 brick pas­to­rium on Legion Drive in ’60; and com­plete ren­o­va­tion of the church sanc­tu­ary in ‘5 at a cost of $140,000.

The late Mrs. John Call­away, Miss Fletcher Lou Lunsford, pi­anist, and Mrs. Reuben Tuck, who was or­gan­ist for some 30 years, as well as Mrs. Alvin Rape, cur­rent or­gan­ist and Mrs. Hugh McDon­ald, cur­rent choir di­rec­tor, have made splen­did con­tri­bu­tions to the out­stand­ing Mu­sic Depart­ment of the church which has over 100 mem­bers en­rolled in the Be­gin­ner Ac­tiv­ity, Pri­mary, Ju­nior, Intermediate and Church Choirs.

Min­is­ters hav­ing served the Church are: Joel Col­ley, J.T. Hand, Ge­orge Daniel, David Carter Cook, Stephen May­field, Wil­liam Spears, Dr. F.M. Cheney, J.F. Edens, Dr. J.M. Brit­tain, T.J. Swan­son, Christo­pher White, J.M. Still­well, I.G. Walker, (un­cle of J. Walker Combs who served for 44 years), R.E. L. HRRIS, j.t. Fields, S.C. Hood, B.W. Col­lier, E.R. Pendle­ton, M.P. Jack­son, H.W. Wil­liams, Rev. Combs and Edgar A. Call­away, cur­rent pas­tor. The church has nur­tured sev­eral sons of the min­istry, among them Em­mett Owne Floyd, pas­tor, Win­der Mere Com­mu­nity Church in Fla. W.G. (Pete) Nunn, pas­tor 1st Bap­tist Church, Gar­den Dale, Ala.; Guy Wal­ton, pas­tor Sparta First Bap­tist; and Mar­shall Ed­wards, Mid­dle Oaks Bap­tist Church, tem­ple, Tex.

The Church’s mem­ber­ship has reached 685 mem­bers, with an aver­age S.S. at­ten­dance of 330.

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