History of First Baptist Church, Greenville SC
First Baptist Greenville has a rich heritage of ministry in the Greenville community dating back to the mid-1820s. Officially organized in 1831, FBCG was the second of Greenville’s five original “downtown” churches (along with Christ Church Episcopal, Buncombe Street United Methodist, First Presbyterian, and St. Mary’s Roman Catholic) and the first of the five to be deeded land by Vardry McBee, who owned over 11,000 acres of what is now Greenville. As a “land-grant” church, FBCG has always had strong ties to the community and to its sister congregations downtown.
Our founders were Regular Baptists whose theology gave us a heritage
of principles that include emphases on
• the freedom the individual led by God’s spirit,
• the freedom of the local church,
• the larger body of Christ made up of local churches around the world,
• the servant role of leadership within the church,
• theological education,
• proclamation of the Good News, and
• a free church in a free state.
A progressive spirit has characterized this congregation from its beginning. Its organizer, William Bullein Johnson, became the first president of the Southern Baptist Convention. FBCG was the first home of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, now located in Louisville, KY. FBCG has continued that progressive spirit in giving leadership to the formation and ongoing ministries of the Alliance of Baptists, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond which was founded in our sanctuary in 1989. We continue to stand firm in the Baptist world for the historic principles of our founders, as evident in our membership’s vote on May 2, 1999, to discontinue affiliation with the Southern Baptist Convention of which our congregation was a charter member.
Members of First Baptist Greenville have been influential in missions and education throughout the years. Hands-on missions date back to the 1830s when “The Ladies Working Society” was dedicated to raising funds for the church and missions and helping the needy. In 1872, two of our members were appointed to full-time foreign missions. This emphasis on missions continues today with dozens of missions projects annually—locally, nationally, and internationally. Christian education, beginning with the establishment of Sunday School in 1838 and a church library soon afterwards, has always been a high priority and continues with an extremely active schedule of opportunities for theological educational and spiritual formation.
Throughout its history, First Baptist Greenville has demonstrated that it is a
congregation of vision. Equality of all members in the ministry of the church,
unity in diversity, involvement in missions, Christian education and vibrant worship
are hallmarks of this church which seeks to live out its faith in the world as
a “Community of Believers, Each Member a Minister.”