Covington First Baptist Church had 13 when organized in 1823
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.