Brief history of First Baptist Church in Sardis
According to the best authorities, the Sardis Baptist Church was organized either in November or December 1844 in a schoolhouse built on a lot given by Russell Jones and his wife in the southeast corner of Section 27, Township 7, Range 7.
This schoolhouse was in the location where Mr. Russell Barefield operated the City Meat Market for many years on South Main Street. The church was first called “Lebanon” and was composed of eight members.
The first pastor was Rev. Samuel Halliburton, who was assisted in the organization of the church by Rev. Whitfield Dupuy.
The church worshiped in the schoolhouse from the time of its organization until 1852. During these years, the following pastors minister to the little flock: Joseph Lane, Samuel Halliburton, Rev Waldrip, J.J. Sledge, and C.B. Young. Rev. Young was called as pastor in 1852 and served until 1867. During time the church progressed satisfactorily, and a church house was built and received in November 1854.
The following pastors served the church successively from 1867 until 1870: E.W. Henderson, 2 years; J.W. Lipsey, 1 year; C.B. Young was called again and continued until January 1873.
A new church building was erected in about 1890 on the same lot on which the original building was constructed. Entrance to this building was from the east front side, above which was the bell tower.
During the 1924-25 church year, the church front was remodeled and additions made. The balcony and bell tower were removed and an addition was made to the front providing a covered concrete porch with east and west side entrances to the vestibules leading into the sanctuary.
The building of 1890, later remodeled, burned on Sunday afternoon, October 24, 1948. M.G. Reedy was pastor. Services were held in the Sardis Courthouse until a new building was completed in 1949.
In 1958, a west annex was added. A.A. Houghton was pastor. In 1969, the sanctuary was remodeled and the east annex was added. C.M. Conley was pastor. In 1979, the front of the church was remodeled again. G.C. Cox was pastor.
On April 14, 1971, the Constitution and By-Laws were adopted and the name of the church was changed from Sardis Baptist to First Baptist Church. J. Roy McComb was pastor of the church at this time.
Bruce G. Jolly became pastor in October 1983. He served until 1990.
During the ministry of Jerry Sanford, First Baptist was very active on the mission field. Teams went to Montana, Alaska and served with the Mississippi Disaster Relief Teams on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Bro. Howard Beam led a mission team to West Virginia. The sanctuary was repainted and the carpet replaced in the office area. A new organ was purchased. Rev. Beam served until 2014.
The fellowship hall was renovated in 2015. Rev. Bob Self served as interim until August of 2016.
Rev. Mike Jernigan is the current pastor.
Baptists 2: A plaque at the entrance to First Baptist Church in Sardis records the dates of the church’s founding, and its building burning and rebuilding. Taking part in the planning for Sunday’s 175th Anniversary celebration this week was (from left) Martha Brock, Bonita Johnson, Betty Goodnight, Gracie Rogers, and Linda Gunn . (Jeremy Weldon)
Baptists 4: The church building burned on a Sunday afternoon in October, 1948. (Contributed)
Baptists 3: This photo of First Baptist was taken about 1924-25. (Contributed)