First Baptist Church Nashville was first organized in 1852 on the property of James F. Goodman. At that time, there were twelve charter members and the Pastor was Brother Simpson Mathis. The land for the second meeting place was purchased in 1889 for $15.00. It was located on the Northeast corner of South Berrien Street and West McPherson Avenue. To attend the constituting service of the church, Mrs. Daniel Hancock walked from the Lenox area, carrying her baby in her arms and leading her other child by the hand. Two of the men, William E. and Jessie Morris, walked from Alapaha for the organizational service. William was later ordained to the gospel ministry.
The second structure in which the church met was located at what is now the corner of South Berrien Street and West McPherson Avenue on the northeast side of the intersection. The land was purchased October 21, 1889 for $15.00 from Ella Patterson. The building was erected by members working far into the nights after plowing in the fields of their farms all day. After the church moved from meeting at this house of worship, it was used as a school building.
The Church's present sanctuary was built in 1916 at a cost of $27,000.00 The congregation entered the building debt free. The land for the building was purchased January 17, 1916 for the sum of $500.00 from W. W. Rutherford. Simpson S. Mathis was the pastor at that time and it was under his leadership that the church moved forward, during the trying times of World War I, to build one the most beautiful edifices in south Georgia. Among its many outstanding features are its beautiful stained glass windows in the main auditorium. Over time, various tracts of additional land were obtained making the entire two blocks of land the property of the church.
A number of Godly men have had the opportunity in the past to serve God and the people of First Baptist Church. Former Pastors include: A.H. Giddens (1926-1941), Royal Callaway (1940-1944), Omer Graves (1944-1954), Garnie Brand (1954-1958), Ira Faglier (1958-1963), John Hunt (1963-1971), Don Bowick (1971-1977), J. Terrell Ruis (1978-1982), and Dr. William (Billy) Southerland (1982-2001). C. Richard (Rick) Williams, Jr. (2001-2006).
H. Giddens was a member of the church prior to serving First Baptist beginning in 1926. With his service as a deacon and his seventeen years as pastor, Brother Giddens served a total of more than 37 years in ministry to our church family. It was in the tenure of Brother Omer Graves that the basement was dug out and completed. Additionally, the balcony was enclosed for Sunday School space.
Reverend Garnie Brand left his mark upon the church family in the short time of four years. His remarkable ministry is still remembered to this day. Brother Brand won the hearts of the membership and the community as a man of great compassion and concern for the people.
The Education Wing of the church was erected in 1971 while Brother Donald Bowick served as pastor. The church experienced great evangelistic growth during this time. In 1972 Brother King Abernathy became the first full-time minister of music and youth/education director. The Seville organ was installed in 1974 and the baby grand piano was given in 1975. Brother Edgar L. Griffin became the Choir Director and served until 1953. After his death, the church choir was named in memorium to his honor.
In 1982, Brother Billy Southerland was called as pastor. He diligently served the church family for 19 years, until his retirement in 2001. In 2005, Brother Billy was honored by First Baptist for his fifty years in the ministry by being named Pastor Emeritus of First Baptist.
In 1992, Hope Baptist Chapel, a mission begun by First Baptist, was constituted and became Hope Baptist Church. Hope Baptist is located at the intersection of Old Valdosta Road and the Adel Highway. W.E. "Pete Cliatt was the first pastor and Dean Spivey was called as the second pastor. Brother Spivey served until 2001. Brother Steve Pickern was called as the Pastor to Hope Baptist Church in 2002.
FBC took a giant step of faith in 1997, as Brother Billy led the people to discover God's vision for the Church. The Vision Statement of First Baptist Church is:
To reach every person in Nashville and Berrien County with the Gospel of Christ, discipling those we reach, leading them in their full potential in Christ; and to use the Sunday School to fulfill this vision.
In 1999, the church called B.J. Holliday as Associate Pastor for Music/Senior Adults. Brother Holliday and his family (wife, Teresa and children, Katie and Jonathon) proved to be a great blessing to our Church. B.J. Served from 1999-2007.
In God's timing Bro. Steve Usher was called in 2004 as Associate Pastor. Steve and his family (children, Brittany, Justin, Tiffany, and Jordan) were a blessing to the Church. Steve served from 2004-2006.
Pastor Rick Williams was called to serve the church following Brother Billy. Pastor Rick served First Baptist from June 2001 through September 2006.
Bro. Stanley Luke (and wife, Martha) accepted a call to serve as Senior Pastor at First Baptist in January of 2008. Bro. Stanley began his service at First Baptist by serving as Interim Pastor in 2007 before heeding to God's call to serve as Senior Pastor. God has used Bro. Stanley mightly! Bro. Stanley Luke served FBC Nashville until March of 2015.
Bro. Barry Spence (wife, Kay and daughter, Emily) accepted a call to serve as Minister of Music and Senior Adults in July of 2008 and served until July 2010.
In July 2009, under leadership of Bro. Stanley Luke, the Church voted on a new purpose statement which is;
to exalt the Savior, evangelize the lost, and equip the saints.
In January 2010 First Baptist welcomed Dan Nix (wife, Rachel, and 4 children) as he accepted a call of service to our youth and college students. Bro. Dan served our youth until August 31, 2015. He was a blessing to the youth at First Baptist!
In July of 2013, First Baptist sought out Dr. Danny V. Ray as a part-time associate pastor. Bro. Danny accepted the calling and began work imediately with our senior adults. In March of 2014 Bro. Danny began as full-time associate pastor. Bro. Danny served as Transitional Pastor from March 2015 until April 2016. He and his wife, Marta, were a blessing to our Church!
On May 29, 2016, Dr. Keith Stewart begins his ministry here at First Baptist. We welcome Keith, his wife, Beth, and children, Hannah, Braden, and Bethany!
First Baptist has truly been blessed by a rich heritage. May the church continue to strive to do God's will and fulfill the Vision He has so clearly set before us.