First Baptist Church Senoia
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
PO Box 86, 41 Johnson St. Senoia, Georgia Phone: (770) 599-3012 Fax: (770) 599-1528
On July 6th 1867, Rev. Henry S. Reese, J.C. Camp, and James Sperling formed as presbytery, to found and constitute what was originally named “The Baptist Church of Christ at Senoia.” Consisting of only 15 members, the small group held their first services in a two room school house, across the street from the current location, on August 3rd 1867.
Although the beginnings were small, the support they had quickly grew, and members flocked to the new church. Some, including Mrs. Nancy Manning Moses, her daughter, son in-law, and two granddaughters, joined by letter to show commitment to the new union. In just a few short months, with a swelling number of members, they had outgrown their meeting place, and approached their Methodists brethren in search of a new home. That request was met with warm acceptance, and the little church began sharing “The Rock House” with them, on July 27th 1868.
Continuing to blossom over the next year a committee was appointed in May of 1869 to discuss the possibility of a more permanent house of worship. With approval, and the dedication of it’s members, the project was underway, and the first building was completed in 1871. This became the second church building erected in Senoia, with the first being the Methodist Church erected by the very same brethren with whom they shared a home.
As the new building was completed the first bell tolled service on July 22nd that same year. The bell, which still rings in the tower today, was added for the cost of 136 dollars. The sum, which was considerable for the day, was gathered together through donations, and the efforts of Miss Lavonia Cooke, a dedicated member of the church.
The first resolution adopted by the church for it’s new building, was an invitation extended to their Methodists brethren, the use of the building for any future need. This was done in thanks, and recognition to the Methodists for being allowed to share their building, and maintain worship during the intervening years.
In August of 1871, seeing a need, they extended that welcome further, as the members voted to tender space in the new building to Lutheran brethren for worship. The Lutheran brethren held service every first and third Sabbath, for several months until their own church home was completed.
Holding to the biblical edict of reaching and teaching, the church expanded it’s programs, and in May of 1871 the first Sunday School classes were held. Brother T.A. Barnes elected as superintendent, while the first instructors were: Dr. A.C. North, Mrs. Olivia Towns, and Miss Lavonia Cock. In April of 1872 the church adopted the “Baptist Hymnal Book” purchasing 50 copies.
The official dedication of the new building came later that same year, and in July of 1872, dedication services where held and presided over by founding member Rev. H.S. Reed. Rev. Reed remained Pastor until the close of 1873, While Rev. J.H. Hall preached the dedicatory message.
With a firm foundation and being a large part in the community, the church members resolved and voted to simplify the name of the church. In July of 1881 “The Baptist Church of Christ at Senoia” officially became “Senoia Baptist Church” The new name didn’t however change the basis, beliefs, or missions of the organization, as they kept their goals, and constitution from it’s founding.
Expanding further, the growing congregation formed The Women’s Missionary Society, and the churches first organized outreach program, on May 1st 1885. Mrs. Elizabeth Griggs, one of the churches prominent leaders was elected president of the newly formed group.
While the town of Senoia was small, it’s roots and heritage ran deep, and as the town grew so too did the church. With the coming of the new century, on July 4th 1897 the church elected a building committee for the purpose of replacing the current structure with a larger, more permanent building. Through tithes and donations, and with the support of Macedonia Baptist Church, the current home was constructed, complete and held it’s first services in 1900.
Although the building was complete, and services were being held regularly, the official dedication would not come until four years later. After paying off the mortgage of 4000 dollars, and offering their thanks for support, Rev. J.W.R. Jenkins presided over and preached the message for the ceremonies in 1904.
The Senoia Baptist church, now a staple in the city, quickly also became a prominent part of the Baptists Community as a whole. The church throughout the years has held countless services, and revivals, as well as joining such organizations as the Harmony Baptist Association, the Western Baptist Association, the Baptist Young People’s Union, and the Southern Baptists Convention to name a few. It’s commitment to preach the word, and spread the gospel continued to attract members, and the once congregation of 15, now boasted 100’s.
With the ever growing need, and congregation, the church broke new ground on November 6th 1949 for the addition of a Sunday School annex. The new addition, to be added to the existing structure, would house the teaching facilities for the church. Miss Joan Williams, the youngest member of the church, had the honor of removing the second spade full of dirt for the new construction, while A.H. Jones, the oldest member (90) had the honor of removing the first. The addition was completed and dedicated on March 12th 1950, and was named the “Dr. John W. Faulkner Annex” The honor came as a dedication to the presiding minister for his service to the church and commitment to the Lord.
The coming years added continued stability and growth, and as the decades rolled through, the church had quickly come upon it’s 100th anniversary. The centennial celebration was held July 2nd 1967 commemorating 100 years of service. Along with presenting ribbons and flyers for the event, an artists rendering of the church building was created to mark the invitations. Also “The Pioneer Room” was established to honor the history of the church. Included in the room were photos of each former senior pastor, as well as the first rostrum being on display. Along with current members, the event brought former presiding Minister Rev. J.H. Dykes back to deliver the anniversary message, with Rev. Luther Woodward, also a former pastor, present for the occasion.
Prosperity continued for the church, the town, and the community as a whole. With the ever growing population of Senoia, and several new church’s organizing in the area, the congregational members of “Senoia Baptist Church” voted on May 16th 1982 to officially change the name to “The First Baptist Church of Senoia” As with the previous name change, the churches dedication and commitment remained true to it’s original foundations.
The fall of 1990 brought more changes to the church, as members voted and elected a building committee to expand the education facility. The purposed two story structure would house a fellowship hall for the members, as well as a nursery and children’s Sunday School, and at the time, a welcome center. In 1993 the building, attached to the annex, was completed, with dedication held that same year.
The new building wasn’t the only changes in the 90’s. With it’s growing outreach program, Sunday School classes, fellowship, services, and other programs, the members drafted and adopted a second constitution on August 23rd 1992. While adhering to the standards and dedication to the Lord as outlined in the original constitution, the newly adopted charter gave a more detailed outline of the duties within the church organization.
1997 also brought with it further expansion. With the purchase of a new pastorium for the presiding minister, the former residence, adjacent to the church, was converted into space for additional Sunday School classes. Also the congregation voted to erect a Youth Building on the sight of a former pavilion. That building was completed the same year, and with modifications, and improvements continues to adapt with the needs of it’s young members.
The Fist Baptist Church of Senoia has been in existence for nearly 150 year. The years have brought growth, prosperity, as well as trials, and hardship, but through it all it’s members have remained committed to God and the message of Jesus Christ. In that time they have seen 37 Senior Pastors, as well as countless deacons, teachers, members, and students. The current Pastor, Dr. Ted O. Padgett 1997-Present has been the longest standing senior pastor in the church’s history, and his determination reflects the standards of each original member. The dedication, patronage, and service of it’s members allows for continuing growth, restoration, and upkeep of it’s life, light, and history. Preserving not just the buildings, but reaching and teaching a community, and by the grace of God, will do so for years to come.
(( This documentation made possible, largely in part to Mrs. Carol Moses Hand. [July 16th 1882 – August 25th 1980] as well as, Martha W. Gill. ))