First Missionary Baptist Church's History
     First Missionary Baptist Church was, until 1965, known as “First African Baptist Church” of Thomasville, which was formed in 1866.  When we think of the history of this church, historical facts lead back to the year 1849, the year that Thomasville Baptist Church (white) was constructed. 
            On January 14, 1849, Brethren B. H. Russell, Charles Mertz, and Sisters Olivia Howard and Mary Smith met as appointed, to constitute a Baptist Church of Christ.  W. B. Cooper, Wiley Blewett, and Thomas J. Bowen attended as Presbytery, and George R. Moore acted as clerk.  After adopting a Covenant, Articles of Faith, and Rules of Decorum, the church was named “Thomasville Baptist Church” and became a member of the Florida Association in October, 1873.  The Florida Baptist Convention held its State meeting with the First African Baptist Church in 1867.
            For some time the church had no house of worship; however, in the spring of 1850 steps were taken to construct an edifice.  It was April 2, 1853, when the congregation first met and prayed in a building on the southwest corner of Smith Avenue and South Dawson Street, known as Piney Woods Lots.  The church members at that time consisted of negro slaves.
            From 1853-1866, Negro worship was held separately from Whites.  Up until 1865, Thomasville Baptist Church claimed membership of slaves and owners alike.  Records indicate that on February 15, 1852, a number of slaves were received into the church by letter.  Charolett, a colored woman, property of  Brother Blewett was received by Christian experience for baptism, and the church resolved to attend the ordination of baptism on the next Sabbath morning at ten o'clock at Olive Creek Church, located three and a half miles south of the city on the Monticello Road.
            The early membership records also have entries such as:  “John, property of Brother Blewett; Callie, property of Sister Everett; James, property of J. D. Edwards; Rachel, property of John W. Everett, came forward and on relating experiences were received for baptism.  Polly, property of Judge Hansell, presented a letter of dismissal from Marietta Church, and was received into membership.”
            The Negro slaves were brought to church and won to God by their White masters.  Separate conferences, however, were held for their benefit, at which time the pastor and clerk presided.  The White membership had its White deacons, and the Negro constituency had its Negro brethren to preach and its own deacons to officiate.  As records indicate, Brother Aaron, property of Brother Harrell, was licensed to preach the gospel of the Son of God to the “colored” members of the church. This type of division continued throughout the years of the war and after.
            On July 1, 1865, after the war, the black division of the church was informed by the white governing body that it was their privilege and their option to assume an independent form of church government, or to remain in its present state.  The meeting house was offered to them for use on the afternoon of each Sabbath.  The colored church unanimously accepted the offer to use the meeting house, but declined to organize a separate church.  They proceeded to call Brother A. B. Campbell to minister the gospel to them.  Thus, the colored church of 129 members continued to worship in the building with the 126 white members more than a year longer. 
            In September, 1866, the Negroes gave notice that they would withdraw from the Negro-White church and become an independent church.  They gave thanks for all favors granted to them in the past and expressed a desire for Christian unity between the two churches, all of which were appropriately acknowledged.  The war had been over for more than a year and a half before this step was taken, and friendly relations continued to exist between the races, the masters, and the slaves.
             In 1866, Blacks organized the First African Baptist Church of Thomasville.  The land needed for a sanctuary was property donated by a member of the white congregation, Mr. Alex Smith, who specified that the land was a gift to be used for church purposes only.  It was on this ground that the pioneer members worshipped under a “Bush Harbor” until they were able to build a church.
            According to the early history of our church, which was recorded and preserved by Mrs. Georgia Waterman, the first pastor of the First African Baptist Church of Thomasville was Reverend Jacob Wade, who served from 1866 until his death in 1873.  His body is entombed in the Old Magnolia Cemetery on north Madison Street.
            After the death of Reverend Jacob Wade in 1873, there have been 18 other men of God called to serve as pastors of what is now First Missionary Baptist Church.  Reverend Benjamin Munson was the second pastor, and he served from 1873 until 1875, when illness forced him to resign.  After Reverend Munson's resignation, Reverend Aldolphus DeLamotta became the third pastor and served from 1876-1877.   He resigned to accept a position at Spellman Seminary, Atlanta, Georgia.  The Church was without an official pastor from 1877 - 1878.
            In June 1879, Reverend Emanuel K. Love came to serve as the fourth pastor.  During his pastorate, more than 400 members were added to the church roll.  Reverend Love resigned in 1881 to become the pastor of the First African Baptist Church in Savannah, Georgia.
            A native of Thomasville, Reverend N. W. Waterman, was the fifth pastor and served from 1882-1889.   Under his leadership church membership continued to grow.  There were 310 converts baptized during the seven years that he served.  The old church was repaired and $1,000.00 (one thousand dollars) was raised to begin the construction of a new church. His death was a great loss to the church and the community; however, his work was not in vain. 
            The building program continued under the sixth pastor, Reverend Samuel Scott Broadnax, (1889-1897), and the actual construction of the new church started in 1890.  With the constant effort of Reverend Jeremiah B. Davis and the loyal membership, the present church building at Madison and Calhoun Streets was completed, and on July 29, 1900, the cornerstone was laid. Reverend Jeremiah B. Davis was the seventh pastor and served from 1897-1907.
            From 1908-1917, Reverend Hamilton David Martin served as the eighth pastor.  In 1917, he resigned to become the pastor of a church in the state of Illinois.  After Reverend Martin's resignation the ninth pastor, Reverend W. M. Barrow, served effectively from March 1917 to June 1918.
            The Church was blessed with the leadership of the tenth pastor, Reverend G. H. Kennedy, who served from 1919-1921.   Following Reverend Kennedy was the eleventh pastor, Reverend J. H. Brown, who served faithfully from 1921-1927.  The congregation was then blessed with Reverend George T. Martin, who served as the twelfth pastor from 1927-1937.  Reverend W. R. Monroe became the thirteenth pastor in 1937; however, he served for only two months.  The Church had no official pastor until Reverend Emory R. Searcy came to serve as the fourteenth pastor from 1939 -1946.
            The church did not have an immediate successor after Reverend Emory R. Searcy; however, leadership was provided by Reverend E. J. Williams, who served as interim pastor.  Reverend Williams was a spiritual leader and helped keep the church moving forward.  He faithfully filled in between pastors and proved to be an influential leader and a dedicated Christian.

            The fifteenth pastor was Reverend Major J. Sherrod, a native of Augusta, Georgia.  He served the church from 1949-1951.  Following Reverend Sherrod was the sixteenth pastor, Reverend Robert W. Hughes. It was during Reverend Hughes two years as pastor that “Women's Day” was initiated.
            From 1953-1956, Reverend Charles Spencer Hamilton served as the seventeenth pastor.  He served faithfully until he resigned to become the pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Augusta, Georgia.
            Reverend Albert B. Walker became the eighteenth pastor and served from 1956-1961.  It was during his tenure that the physical structure, which includes the church and parsonage, were renovated to improve the general appearance of the church property. 
            Reverend Doctor I. L. Mullins, Sr. of Chattanooga, Tennessee, became the nineteenth pastor of First Missionary Baptist Church in November 1961, and began his pastoral duties in January of 1962.  Led by this energetic, spiritual leader, the church membership doubled, and the Church became a “beacon of light” in all areas of spiritual endeavors in the community.  Because of Reverend Mullins' leadership, the Church became headquarters for the Civil Rights Movement in Thomasville.  The Church was not only a place of worship, but it was also a place of studying, learning, and carrying out the command of, “Go ye into all the world.” 
Under Reverend Mullins' leadership the membership continued to grow.  A total of 1,083 individuals joined the church by baptism, Christian experience, and by letter.  Also, many infants were dedicated to the Lord. This man was considered a giant among his fellow clergymen, political leaders, and many others because of his dedication to God, the Church, and the community that he loved.  Reverend Doctor I. L. Mullins served as pastor of First Missionary Baptist Church for more than fifty years, from 1962 until he made his transition on July 18, 2012. 
            On June 3, 2012 Rev. Dr. I. L. Mullins, Sr. announced to the church his plans to retire due to his declining health. On June 12, 2012 the  Church Conference called a meeting, which two major decisions were made. First the conference  accepted the retirement of Rev. Dr. I.L. Mullins, Sr. and bestowed upon him the title Pastor Emeritus. Secondly, Reverend Jeremy G. Rich was elected by the conference to become 20th Pastor of First Missionary Baptist Church, effective August 1, 2012.
 As pastor of First Missionary Baptist Church, Reverend Rich is a dedicated, energetic, and wise leader.  He is a competent preacher, teacher, and mentor as he utilizes the gift that God has bestowed upon him.  Under Pastor Rich’s leadership, First Missionary Baptist Church has renewed our outreach efforts in the Thomas County Community through the "Ministry Beyond the Walls Project" The ministries have been diverse in reaching our brothers and sisters, they include: American Cancer Society's Relay for Life - First Place Team - (May 2013); Hands On Thomas County (H.O.T.C.) & Landmarks Operation C.A.R.E. Day (October 2012 & 2013); Salute to Veterans on Veteran’s Day (November 2012 & 2013); Community Outreach Day at the Douglass Complex (July 2013); coordinated and hosted the Commemorative 50th Anniversary of the “March on Washington for Jobs and Wages” and the “I Have A Dream” speech (August 2013); sponsored a College Recruitment Fair (September 2013); and an ongoing partnership with Thomas University. This is just the beginning for "eye have not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.