First Baptist Church History

Church Exterior

The History of First Baptist Church dates back to the fall of 1874 when Father Brown and two other unidentified Ministers met and organized the Church at 1408 Washington Avenue in Huntsville, Arkansas, which is now North Little Rock, Arkansas. Under the direction of Father Brown and his two Associate Ministers, and a small band of Christian believers in Christ – they elected Reverend Lawson as the first Pastor. After the election of Pastor Lawson, the meeting place was changed to 2nd and Main Street. In 1880, the small Congregation moved to 2nd and Oak Street where Pastor Lawson served faithfully until he resigned in 1896. After Pastor Lawson resigned, Rev. B. W. Alexander served as Pastor for twelve years. Under this leadership, the Church Membership increased to 125 members.

In 1907, the Lord called Pastor Alexander from labor to reward. Reverend W. M. Davis, succeeding Pastor Alexander, led this band of believers to 6th and Orange Street until it was destroyed by fire. A new Church building at 9th and Pine Street was erected in 1915. In 1921, Reverend Davis was called home to rest. We pause to give special recognition to other Ministers who labored, suffered and sacrificed their time and energy in an effort to keep the banner of First Baptist flying at high mast. Other Pastors were W. S. Jackson, W. M. Walker, W. M. Bryant, William McKenzie, Martin Van Hudson, Robert Turner, W. G. Sangster, Alvin Green and V. M. Banks. It was during Rev. Banks’ pastorate that the congregation united and organized to build the Lord a house.

“The face of the Lord shines upon you” was the feeling of the membership when the Urban Renewal Project purchased the Church at 9th and Pine Street in 1967. A new spirit was generated and with the support of the Membership and Bro. E. E. Benton, who was Chairman of the Trustee Board; they set out to construct a new Church. Again, a new edifice was constructed on a 15,000 square foot area located at 822 Locust Street purchased from the Urban Renewal Project in 1967.

Because of the impact of the Urban Renewal Project on the Community, many Members were geographically affected and the Church membership declined, leaving a small number to carry on.

In 1982, at the age of 21 years old, Reverend William L. Robinson became the youngest Minister elected to Pastor First Baptist Church. Pastor Robinson brought vitality and much spiritual uplift to the Church.

Under his leadership, Membership vastly increased and the Church experienced a myriad of new Ministries.

The Tape and Radio Ministry, Nurses Guild, Senior Choir, TLC (Teens Living For Christ) Male Chorus, Young Matrons Society, Circle of Love, Prison Ministry, Children’s Church, BTU (Baptist Training Union) and a Television Ministry and a Vision Team highlighted some of the new Ministries. There was a surge of District, State and National representation, reciprocal fellowship with other Churches and interdenominational Worship.

With the increased growth in Membership and Ministry, a new site at 811 Scipio A. Jones Drive was purchased and the Groundbreaking Service for the new edifice was held on May 9, 1993. The new edifice was completed in the spring of April 1994. First Baptist made the historical march from 822 Locust Street to the present site on the day of our Lord, April 24, 1994. The Dedicatorial Services were held on June 12, 1994.

Because of the greatest of God, First Baptist continued to grow and to be what could only be described as “Uplifting our Lord and Savior.”

In November of 2003, the 129th Anniversary was celebrated, “To God Be The Glory – Over a Century For Christ” – almost a decade after moving to the new location, under the leadership of Pastor Robinson, membership increased to over 1000 members. Many Ministries were added as the Church continued to grow spiritually and numerically. The first “4” Church Fellowship Service was held at First Baptist with Second Baptist Church, Longley Baptist Church and New Hope Baptist coming together each 5th Sunday for Worship and fellowship under the revitalization of Pastor Robinson after many years. During the earlier part of 2003, many of First Baptist members and families were activated for the War on Terrorism. We continue to pray for all the troops until they all come home.

New Ministries such as a Substance Abuse Ministry, Cancer Support Ministry, Economic Development Ministry, and a Scholarship Fund Ministry for Post-Secondary Education were in place to help Members. Other Ministries such as a Mortgage Liquidation Ministry, a Planning Research for Expansion Ministry, the Children’s Choir “God’s Angels” with over sixty members, and the Youth Choir were added to uplift First Baptist. The Sunday School Department classes increased to include a Young Adult Class for 20 – 30 years of age, a Discipleship Class, plus Youth Classes for all ages.

An 8:00 a.m. Early Morning Worship Service was implemented so that Members would have a choice of Services to accommodate their varying schedules.

The Vision as seen through the eyes of Pastor Robinson for 2004 was “Pursuing Order and Expecting Manifestation.” God is a God of order and when we diligently pursue order, we can fervently expect Manifestation.

The Lord hath done great things for us, wherefore we are glad, (Psalm 126:3) and because of the insightful wisdom of Deacon N. P. Marshall, (Financial Consultant) and a prayerful First Baptist Fold, this Church became Debt-Free as of February 2004.

The “Principles of 2004” emphasized Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness and All These Things will Be Added unto You. As we continued to do the Works of our Lord, to bring souls back to Christ and into the Church, to have knowledge of God’s Word and to be steadfast active Christians, always remember, “Lord thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations,” (Psalm 90:1).

Some of the Historical Highlights of late 2003 and 2004 consisted of a new Computer and Tutoring Lab to serve our Youth, the Annual Christmas Pageant, Watch Meeting Service, Extended Class Time for Sunday School each 3rd Sunday, Youth Trip to Orlando, Florida, the Mothers’ Board added seven Mothers to the Mother’s Board of the Church, and the Women’s Ministry presented a Women In White Reception.

The Mortgage Burning Celebrations in June highlighted the whole year with special guests and a special banquet. The 23rd Appreciation Service of Pastor Robinson, the 11th Annual City-Wide Revival and other Annual days of First Baptist Ministries were also highlighted events. In November of 2004, the 130th Church Anniversary was held and Pastor Robinson shared from his heart the Worship Service Message. The year ended with Men’s Day and a great Watch Meeting Service.

The Vision of 2005, “A Stronger First Baptist” was presented to the Congregation in January 2005, calling the Members to be a Ministry of Maturity. New Ministries consisted of the Security, Wedding Coordinating, Caleb and Joshua’s, Community Resources, Focus, Special Events, and Restore. The Ordination of two Ministers, (Minister C. B. Robinson and Minister Harry Murphy) in February highlighted the year. On Sunday, November 6, 2005, we came together for the 131st Church Anniversary and All Ministries Day; the first combined Service in the history of our Church to be held “Honoring Our Past….Building Our Future.” The year of 2005 celebration was a continuation of our Pastor’s vision and initial plan for “2005 – A Stronger First Baptist.” This gave us an opportunity to come together as one body and reflect on our progress over the years.

On the 5th day of November, 2006, many members shared memories of how the Vision of 2006 “Commitment and Teamwork” helped us as a team “Totally Excited About Ministry” know that all things should be done for God’s glory. Everyone’s focus, of spiritually reshaping, remodeling and reorganizing, better equipped us for our Church’s Ministry.

The Ministries focused on “Commitment and Teamwork” through the study of the Word, Worship and Outreach. The power of the preached Word increased our membership through baptism and rededication, restored families and changed lives. Some of the highlights of the year blessed the members through new Worship Services. Because of the continued support from members and friends; the first “4” Church Fellowship” Watch Meeting Service was held at the Robinson Center Music Hall in Little Rock, Arkansas; over 3000 attended.

Pastor Robinson received recognition for his Silver Anniversary as Pastor. Members graduating from High School received scholarships from the Scholarship Ministry to assist with school expenses. Surrounding Churches and friends supported the 14th Annual City-Wide Revival with Pastor Jerry Black of Atlanta, Georgia.

The Deacon Board increased their Board by two Deacons to assist the Pastor and Members. New Choir Robes were purchased for the Sanctuary Choir and dedicated at the Dedicatory Service held in September of 2006.

On November 4, 2007, another great celebration was held for the 133rd Church Anniversary and all the honor and praise was given to God for 133 years. First Baptist grew stronger and more spirit-filled because of the commitment and dedication of the Members and the longest tenure Pastor; Rev. William L. Robinson. The Church celebrated the Silver Anniversary Service of Pastor Robinson in July. The Vision of “Moving Forward in 2007’ Ministries and Souls” continued to strengthen and guide First Baptist Church in doing the work of Kingdom Building for our Lord and Savior as we prepared to move into another year.

Nearly 200 members were added to the First Baptist fold; to God we give all the praise. We also paused to remember those who paved the way before us, those who answered the heavenly roll call and the loyal members of this great Church. Many new Ministries were implemented during the year to include a Vision Team, Men of Standard, Women of Destiny, Home to Home Visitation, and Obadiah’s Kitchen. All Members and Ministries of First Baptist “moved forward in 2007” through prayer, praise, and worship. We give all honor and praise to God for his blessings as we “Celebrated our Journey – 133 years.”

On Sunday, November 2, 2008, we celebrated a year with continued increase, both in number and spiritually. Pastor Robinson presented the Vision of 2008, “Working Together, In Love, Growing Stronger In Christ” and the new Ministry Leaders and Ministries for the year, to the many Members. Some of the highlighted Events during the year of 2008 were: First Baptist purchased a twenty-five passenger mini-bus, and audio monitors were installed throughout the Church.

The Church increased the Deacon Board by two Deacons. The Men of Standard Ministry ministered and fellowshipped together and also attended several College games. Retreats were held for the Youth during the summer and the Women’s Ministry held workshops and conferences that prepared them to be “armed and dangerous” against Satan and stronger for the Lord.

For the first time in the State of Arkansas; over one-hundred Churches of different denominations came together to worship and give praises to our Lord – known as the Arkansas Gathering – many nationally known Pastors were in attendance. First Baptist Church served as host of the Day Sessions while the Night Sessions were held at the Statehouse Convention Center. Pastor Robinson, having prayed much for the 2008 Vision; set First Baptist in place to impact the Community, City and State this year and to change and recreate the things that will meet the needs of God’s people – Working together in love and growing stronger in Christ. “Let’s all work together to accomplish all that God has for us.”

The Vision of 2009 – Exalting the Savior, Equipping the Saints, and Evangelizing the Sinner – attendance increased and many souls confessed their faith in God for the first time and were baptized. A Church Development Workshop was held for all leaders and members before the Installation of Officers to instill in individuals the importance of their position within their Ministry. First Baptist hosted a Health Fair for the entire Community and also continues to serve “food for the hungry” through Obadiah’s Kitchen Ministry every Tuesday.

A Community Outreach Events Program was held to inform every one of the many resources available to assist individuals with job search and retraining opportunities by inviting the Director of the Department of Workforce Services to come and share the latest information; this was the first time in the history of First Baptist and the Community that so many came together to be enlightened about Community Services. The Annual City-Wide Revival included two nationally known Pastors and other recording artists to minister to the many in attendance.

As First Baptist continues to grow spiritually and do the works of Kingdom Building; Pastor Robinson suggested and presented to the Congregation, the Ordination of Brothers Daniel Bearden, Clifford Small and Christopher Young, all received their Ordination Certificates with the blessings of the Ordination Counsel. Bro. Raymond Byrd was also licensed to Preach. Several years ago, First Baptist implemented a plan of unity for the many Ministries to acknowledge and honor all Ministries on the same day and it is still in place on this very special day.

The Vision of 2010 – Following Jesus – was accepted by the Congregation with many objectives to fulfill in January. We give all the honor and praises to God for another year with many coming together and working together like never before to carry on the Pastor’s Vision.

As stated by Pastor Robinson, “there is greatness upon us and we must recognize that our identity is defined by Him “who has called us out of darkness into the marvelous light.” The Community Health Event continues to impact and bring the Community and surrounding areas together with resources that will empower lives. Another special day of Celebration was that of the Arkansas Baptist College Day held on Mission Sunday in September, 2010.

First Baptist, God has given us an awesome opportunity to reach out to one another and understand the importance of the Vision “Following Jesus” as many Ministers reinforced during the brief illness and absence of our Pastor; Pastor Robinson suffered a Stroke on August, 9, 2010. On Sunday, November 7, 2010, we celebrated the 136th Church Anniversary with many members and Guests present – the theme was, “Through a Higher Level of Obedience, Advancing the Kingdom of God” – II Corinthians 10:5. In January, 2011 Pastor Robinson returned to the Pulpit and to his responsibilities with a new Vision for 2011.

The Vision for 2011, Committed To Moving Forward, was presented by Pastor Robinson and quickly accepted by the Members with the supportive scripture of “Where there is no vision, the people perish; but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” Highlights of 2011 consisted of the appointment of Deacon Ivory Lyles as Church Administrator. Plans have been implemented for a Family Life Center to meet the needs of the First Baptist Family and Community. An “All Leaders Conference” was held, focusing on how to better serve as a Ministry Leader. First Baptist completed a phase of remodeling and repairs to give it a new vigor for the members and community.

Several buses of Youth journeyed to Orlando, Florida during Spring Break for the Annual Youth Trip. A Banquet was held for the Graduating Seniors honoring their Parents and to announce details of their future plans during the Annual Youth weekend. Over two hundred Youth participated in the Youth Conference and Annual Youth Day with guests from around the State. The 29th Anniversary Celebrations of Pastor Robinson was held in July with a “Pre-Anniversary Musical” with many invited guests and friends. The Annual City-Wide Revival was held with many members and guests present to hear three national renowned Evangelist – Pastor Bertrand Bailey, Dr. Frank Ray and Pastor Jerry Black during six nights of singing and preaching.

The Women’s Ministry held a “Three-Day Annual Women’s Conference” with guests from Mississippi, Texas and Louisiana, entitled “Women of Substance’ – ‘Sisters Loving Sisters As We love Ourselves.” As First Baptist Church turned 137 years old, we paused to give honor to those who opened the doors for us and to say thank you to the many that still carried the torch for the future.

We celebrated 138 years with a Church that loves God and believes that through God all things are possible. The Vision of 2012 as confirmed by the Members is “Healing This House in 2012.” We are on our way to the next level through Prayer, Praise and Worship. Many Workshops and Seminars were held to help us learn how to be a better servant of God. Our major focus continues to be spiritual development for all members and families. The year of 2012 -was our time of preparation and recharging.

All Officers, Leaders and Ministries are leading with a greater enthusiasm and passion, we have impacted the Community through our Mission and Obadiah’s Kitchen Ministries. Our Annual City Wide Revival attendance grew both in spirit and attendance. Our Church Membership continues to increase and souls are being saved. The Youth are stepping up their Ministry and are getting serious about learning about God as seen by the increased attendance in Sunday School and Bible Study.

The Men’s Ministry Conference and the Women’s Conference and Gala highlighted the importance of developing healthier lifestyle changes. We continue to update our Edifice and prepare for our Family Life Center. May God continue to bless First Baptist as we move forward by Faith.

The year 2013 was a good year for us.  Pastor Robinson presented the Vision, Moving Forward in 2013, supported by Philippians 3:13-14 - we should trust Him beyond our natural limitations. Your eyes can only see the present, but your spirit can see the Promise. Focus on the Promise, not the present.  The Vision for 2014 is “Commitment and Focusing on the Families.”  Come and Worship with us as we magnify the Lord .

First Baptist started the new year of 2014 with Pastor Robinson’s Vision – Commitment and Focus on the Families – supported by Joshua 24:15b.  Each year our Church continues to come together through unity, to accept the new Vision and with the installation of Officers, Leaders and Ministries.  With the appointment of 2014 Leaders and Ministries; the greatest change and increase was the appointment of four new Mothers being added to the Mothers Board Ministry.  Multiple Workshops and Seminars were held for the Men, Women and Youth to teach, train, reemphasize, reconnect and recommit in being a stronger Christian.

Some of the highlights shared by the many Members of First Baptist during 2014:  Our Graduating High School Seniors were introduced to the next level of continuing Education with trips to Colleges to assist in their choice and workshops being held to prepare them.  The In-House and Annual City-Wide Revivals blessed everyone with the presence of special guests to share God’s Word.  Having a healthier lifestyle carried over into this year with seminars, brunches and conferences being held to update families and friends on the importance of taking care of the whole body and mind with the emphasizes on always putting God first.

With the celebration of the 32nd Anniversary Service of Pastor Robinson; many community leaders and guests from the surrounding cities came to wish him well and to let us know that First Baptist is firmly rooted and will reach new heights because we love, worship and give all praises to God.  The year 2014, through many challenges, continues “to lead Souls to Jesus Christ through the communication of the gospel and to ensure the Word of God with simplicity and humility through the power and direction of the Holy Spirit.”

The 140th Church Anniversary Celebrations held during the traditional first weekend of November, lifted the spirits of everyone with a Banquet held at the Clinton’s Library for Members and Friends prior to the Annual Sunday’s Services.  Pastor Robinson introduced the quickly approved Vision “Renewed Commitment in 2015” to the Members with excitement and it was greatly received.  Throughout the year; some of the Ministry activities included an additional Mother being added to the Mothers Board Ministry and two Deacons added to the Deacon’s Board.  The Youth were blessed by national recording star, Minister Zacardi Cortez of Houston Texas on Annual Youth Day.

Pastor Robinson’s 33rd Pastor’s Appreciation Celebration was held with Pastor Jonathon Carter as special guest with many other guests and friends present to celebrate with him.  Revivals were held to revive, renew and refresh the Church and Communities and many Souls walked down the aisles to join our Membership and to be baptized throughout the year.  The Health Ministry had increased participation with the “Race for the Cure” and on Pink Carnation Sunday, special guests were present to give “Flu Shots and Free Health Screenings after both Services.

The 141st Church Anniversary Services were held on November 01, 2015 with the President of Shorter College – Dr. O. Jerome Green as the Messenger of the “8:00 a.m. Hour of Power” Service.  Dr. Dante Wright and his Congregation from Round Rock, Texas were the Sunday Morning Worship Service Guests.  Pastor Robinson reminded us, “As we anticipate what God is going to do for us, it is going to take our entire membership’s hard work and all of our willing workers, and our Sisters and Brothers praying and serving together.  Join us in doing God’s Work and to be the Church God wants us to be.”

December was very busy with preparations for the New Year; with the Presentation of the 2016 Vision, “Renewed Focus and Consistent Commitment” and the Ministry Leaders of 2016.  On December 17th – the Watch Night Service ended the year and started a New Year for First Baptist.

Pastor Robinson’s 2016 focus was Christ is being preached, Truth is being taught, Souls are being saved and all of our Ministries are stronger.”  Some of the Highlights of the year include:  Installations of Officers and Leaders with Sis. Euleta Ware as the Keynote Speaker.  The Annual Quartet Musical, the Soul Food Supper prepared by the Deaconess Ministry, The Women’s Ministry held several Workshops, a Retreat and a Women’s Month’s with Race for the Cure and Pink Carnation Sunday recognizing Breast Cancer Survivors.  The Men’s Ministry also held several Workshops.  Several Revivals were held to increase and refresh our relationship with God.  We have been blessed with three Ministers ordained, three Ministers preached their first Sermon and one Deacon being added to the Deacon Board.  An increase in Tithes and Offerings allowed for the purchase of a new Van.

The Health Fair attendance was a record breaker with many Resource Agencies present. The Youth celebrated on Annual Youth Day, attended a Youth Banquet and all participating High School Seniors received “FBC” Scholarships. Vacation Bible Study kept us busy all week learning and hearing more about God.  Pastor Robinson’s 34th Pastor Appreciation Service with Dr. Jonathon Carter as Guest Messenger was a blessing to many. All Usher Boards combined for their Special Recognition Day, and the Sanctuary Choir held the first of two Concerts.  The Church Picnic attendees had plenty of fun, food and fellowshiping.  The first Sunday of November 2016, was a special day as we celebrated 142 years of Worship on this Church Anniversary and all Ministries Day.  We thank God and we give Him all the glory for what He has done and is doing for us.

The year 2017 began with many blessings for the First Baptist Church Family.  We are excited about Pastor Robinson’s Vision for the new year, “Reset in 2017″.  Many new Events and Activities were planned to carry on the Ministry of First Baptist.  The Celebration of Pastor Robinson’s thirty-five  years as our Pastor was held on July 16, 2017 with great support from the Members and Friends.   On Sunday, August 6th, another milestone,  took place with the “Community Unity Communion” Services – bringing Pastors and the Communities together to pray for peace and unity in our homes, communities and cities.  The 22nd Annual City-Wide Revival was held in August with three special Evangelists, (Pastor Jerry D. Black, Pastor  Bertrand Bailey, Jr., and Pastor Tim Rogers).  Two new Deans (Sister Laura Landrum and Sister Euleta Ware) were certified, leading to the first “Christian Leadership School” on September 12 – 13, 2017.  First baptist known for setting high standards, was recognized by the Division of Christian Education, Sunday School Publishing Board of the National Baptist Convention as the first Church to host two Christian Leadership Schools at the same time by two new Deans.  Some Pre-Church Anniversary Services held leading up to the Anniversary on the first Sunday in November 2017 – the Sanctuary Choir’s Musical Concert, and “Over sixth (60) Celebration Reception for all Members over the age of sixty and the Pre-Church Anniversary Service.   The Theme was “Through God’s Grace – 143 Years.”  The Ministries of First Baptist, as stated by Pastor Robinson, must all bond together and leave no Ministry or Member behind as we prepare spiritually for such times as these.

Pastor Robinson’s daily prayer is that we love one another and give the same love as we want to receive.  Through it all, each day know that  our God is still on the Throne.  Let us remember – Be ye steadfast, unmovable in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know, that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Corinthian 15:58).  The Vision of the Church for 2018 is Equipping the Church of Today for Tomorrow.  Highlights of the year:  The Black History Program hosted by the Deaconess and Ministers Wives Ministry.  The 13th Annual Unity Men’s Sit ending with an “All Men” Prayer Meeting.  The 3rd Annual Associate Ministers In-House revival.  Pastor Robinson was the guest speaker for the National Holy Convocation for the Twelfth Episcopal District African Methodist Episcopal Church.  All Ushers Boards combined to celebrate their special day during both Worship Services.  Bro. DeAndre Singleton preached his first sermon.  Minister Singleton is Director of Media Services.  The Sanctuary Choir’s Concert blessed the members with a great selection of Songs.  The Youth celebrated their Annual Youth Day and all High School and College Graduates were recognized during Education Day.  Pastor Robinson’s 36th Appreciation Celebration was held and hosted by the Servants Help Ministry – 36 years!  The Celebration followed by the Union District Congress  – First Baptist received the Highest in Attendance Trophy/Award.

The Annual City-Wide Revival was held six nights with many guest speakers, members and friends attending.  The Singles Ministry largest outing of the year was a trip to Branson, Missouri to see the play “Samson”.  The Men’s Ministry held their Weekend Retreat 2018 in Solgohachia, Arkansas.  The 2nd Christian Leadership School brought many together for two nights.  The Church Outing at Burns Park gave members and families plenty of fun, food and fellowship.  The Women’s Ministry Conference blessed the hearts of many women with the two-day spirit-filled Events.  Many members and friends gathered at the Church Banquet – leading up to this 144th Church Anniversary Celebration.  “Equipping the Church for Tomorrow” with God’s Word, Worship, Praise, Serving and Ministry will guide us to where He wants this Church to be.  We are not there yet – but we are on our way.   ”Get on Board” – be more than a Member – be a willing worker and Member.  Remember God loves you and so do we – let the Church say Amen.