The History of First Baptist Church, Bristol, TN-VA

  • 1859 The church first met in Old Temperance Hall in Bristol Tennessee. That same year the present location property was donated by Joseph R. Anderson.
  • 1862 The first church was built on present location, facing Main Street (now State Street). William Briscoe donated the brick for the foundation and chimney for the frame building, which consisted of one large room, with two rooms being added to the back at a later date.
  • 1881-65 During the Civil War the church building was shared with the Episcopal Church whose building was taken over as a military hospital. The Baptist Church then had approximately 100 members, about half were black.
  • 1865 Forty-two of the black members sought and were granted letters of dismissal to form their own church, eventually Lee Street Baptist. This action was not of malice, bitterness or strife; and not all of the black members lettered out at that time. For special occasions, such as revivals, baptisms, etc., the whites and blacks often came together again.
  • 1870s Baptisms were held in Beaver Creek (where Main Street, now State Street, crossed Beaver Creek, now Piedmont Avenue). This area became known as The Glory Hole.
  • 1886-87 The second building was constructed, a gothic Victorian with a tall and ornate bell tower, replacing the first and still facing Main (now State).
  • 1887-90 Goodson Baptist Church began a Bible study & prayer meeting at Sparger Cotton Factory in Bristol Tennessee. In July 1890 twenty-four members of Goodson Baptist Church sought and were granted letters of dismissal to form Sparger Mission, later named South Bristol Baptist, and in 1895 became Woodlawn Baptist Church.
  • 1888 Goodson Baptist name changed to Bristol Baptist Church.
  • 1895 Bristol Baptist name changed to First Baptist Church with a membership of nearly 400.
  • 1899 – FBC mothered Calvary Baptist Church, who later mothered Virginia Avenue Baptist in December 1936)
  • 1906 FBC purchased adjoining lot and in 1911 began construction of current building, designed by Architect C. B. Kearfott. During construction the services were held in Bristol Virginia City Hall.
  • 1926 First Baptist Church – facing Virginia Street -- was dedicated to the Worship of God.
  • 1940 FBC entered a building and renovation program and an education building was added.
  • 1946 The church began broadcasting some of its morning services on WOPI-AM and FM and WFHG, and in 1948 began broadcasting morning worship services on the fourth Sunday of each month on WCYB-TV.
  • 1947 The gasoline station located diagonally across the street exploded, demolishing the church windows. New windows were installed in 1948, enclosed in one-piece steel frames.
  • 1948 First Baptist Church took over management and was deeded the Goodwill Center on Norfolk Avenue with provision that it would carry on the program alone. FBC provided leadership, Sunday school teachers, etc. for the center.
  • 1963 Silent Friends Sunday School Class was established for the deaf.
  • 1966 FBC mothered Valley Hills Baptist Church, Cedar Brook Circle, Bristol Tennessee.
  • 1979 FBC mothered Norfolk Avenue Baptist Church (formerly Goodwill Center Mission).
  • 1982 Woman’s Missionary Union/FBC on Mission began.
  • 1988 First Children’s Christmas Party for underprivileged children.
  • 2001 The Bristol First Baptist Foundation is incorporated.
  • 2008 FBC purchased old Carolyn Mfg. building on Washington Street and began fundraising to establish the Bristol Ministry Mall.
  • 2009 First Baptist holds its sesquicentennial celebration.
  • 2012 The adjacent Smith property on Goodson Street was purchased for youth activities. The church now owns two city blocks in Bristol, VA
  • 2015 First Baptist Church was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.