Tipton has a rich history of churches and the people who started each one. There are many churches in our county – both in our city and surrounding areas, that have stood firm on the gospel message that Jesus saves. It is a privilege to live in a great county that has a rich history of a people who have tried to love the Lord and propagate His Word to those around us.
115 years ago a group of people began meeting above the old Compton’s Hardware store located on the southeast corner of Jefferson and Independence streets. Recent research has revealed that as early as 1897, a few Baptist believers were meeting in the home of Mr. Andrew Goodnight, who lived at 727 East Jefferson St, which is now the entrance to the bypass leading out to Park Road.
It was in Mr. Goodnight’s home where it was decided that a Baptist church was needed in the city of Tipton. Therefore, a group of around eleven members met and decided to organize the First Missionary Baptist Church in Tipton. The Rev. John Welsh was the founding pastor, but died six weeks after the church was founded. Before he died, he was instrumental in helping the church to purchase the property owned by the First Separate Baptist Church for $650.00. The trustees who signed the property over to the First Missionary Baptist Church were Mr. Thomas D. Sutherland, Mr. William Bennett, and Mr. William Newhouse. Mr. Sutherland later became a faithful member of the new church. The property was deeded to Mr. Goodnight who was one of the new church trustees.
For reasons unknown to many, the church began to met above Compton’s Hardware store rather than meeting in the newly acquired property. In 1900, due to an enlarging congregation, a small piece of property was purchased on the corner of Independence and North Streets, where a building 30 X 40’ was built for the purpose of worship. Later in 1908, a 16’ addition was added to the rear of the building.
From the records of First Baptist, there were 96 tithing members in 1904, none of which gave more than 35 cents a week. In 1915, a bequest of $400.00 was left to the church by a charter member. That money was used for an extensive building program, which included a full basement, an addition to the east side of the building, and a baptistery.
A parsonage was built on the west side of the church on Independence and North St. (which is still standing today). But the Great Depression came and the parsonage had to be sold, in order to pay the bills of the church. As the years passed by, time began to take its toll on the building structure. And, the crowds kept growing. So, in 1954, discussion was raised about whether to repair the building or whether to move to a new location.
On August 1, 1956, the congregation of First Baptist Church of Tipton voted to purchase three lots on the corners of Oak and North Street for $6,000.00. An architect was hired and a new building was built. From church records, $75,000.00 was raised. In June of 1959, ground breaking took place and a contractor by the name of Mr. R.K. Childers of Sheridan started the building of the current building of First Baptist.
The building project was completed in May of 1960, with an approximate cost of $160,000.00 spent for the new First Baptist Church, including the entire outside and inside structure as well as the furnishings for the new church building. This entire amount, but God’s help and grace, was paid off in November of 1971. On Sunday, May 29th, 1960, the entire Sunday School of the First Baptist Church marched from the old church building on Independence and North to the new, current place of worship. The new building was formally dedicated to the Lord on Sunday, June 5th, 1960.
First Baptist Church has had many pastors over the years. Our message continues to be same – including the singing of the hymns of the faith. While many churches have compromised doctrine and methodology to reach the world, First Baptist has remained true to the sound preaching of the Gospel, the advancement of mission activity around the world, and the winning of individuals through the simple gospel message found in the New Testament.
Our church has never been a place where one is ‘entertained’ on Sundays. We’re not interested in ‘putting on a show’ for people each week. Nor are we interested in watering down the Bible message. We’re a Bible-believing people, holding to the clear teachings of the Bible, attempting to be led by the Holy Spirit of God. We are traditional, Bible-believing and soul-conscience. And, we are grateful for our stand that we take. We are a conservative church, holding to the Bible, not a denominational headquarters standards, for our beliefs and convictions.
As we celebrate 115 years this Sunday, may God give us many more years to press on for Him. It is a privilege to love, serve, and help those in our congregation. My prayer is that many will appreciate our message, understand our methods, and enjoy our worship. Furthermore, I pray that our church will continue to grow and prosper as we reach precious souls in the Tipton and surrounding communities!