160 years of
FBC has served Winchester, Clark County, Kentucky, and beyond for 157 years. First known as United Baptist Church and later as Winchester Baptist Church, FBC had its origins at a revival held in November 1858. The church was officially constituted with thirty-one charter members on June 8, 1859, almost two years before the Civil War began. The early days were days of hardship and struggle brought about by the Civil War. The fledgling congregation struggled to carry on during and following the war. Nevertheless, the church was born and survived during one of the most difficult circumstances in American history. Early struggles included paying expenses and living in harmony during and following the war when families were often divided by the hostilities of war. The challenges were met, the crisis was survived and members today are beneficiaries of the efforts and sacrifices of those early pilgrims of faith.
The history of FBC shapes the church’s current practice in numerous ways. For example, missions, music and youth programs have been three vital aspects of First Baptist through the years, particularly in the lifetime of people who are now members. FBC is a multi-generational church that has made a difference in the development of children, youth and adults. It is a congregation that cares for people through the generations.
Historically, this congregation has embraced change. For example, this church retained a pastor even after he got a divorce, something not many Baptist churches have done. Also, a number of years ago, this church moved to ordain women as deacons and has accepted women in other leadership roles. This congregation began accepting the baptism by non-Baptist churches when this was not a generally accepted practice among sister Baptist churches. This congregation also began affiliation with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship while continuing to be affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. Most people at FBC value the kind of diversity expressed in this “dual alignment.”
Historically, this congregation has valued traditions. Having been founded following a revival meeting, FBC continues to value evangelistic outreach. Sunday School and Bible Study were integral to the founding and development of FBC, and both continue to hold a high place here. Members at FBC desire a pastor who is a Bible scholar and one who uses the Bible as the basis of quality sermons and one who also teaches the Bible at other times. Other traditions from the past that are valued (at least by some) are Sunday evening and Wednesday evening services. Many people also place a high value on a traditional worship style and singing of traditional hymns. FBC has played a vital role in the community and also in the growth and development of families—those families who are members as well as families in the community. More than one person stated how this church has played an important role in their formation and/or that of their children and teens.
Through the years this church has had various programs that provided its members an important connection to each other as well as ministry to the world. These include such things as youth programs, Woman’s Missionary Union groups, mission involvement, various choirs, mission trips, Town Hall Chapel Hour (worship at theatre), Amigos Ministry, Tend-a-Tot, and Feed my Sheep. FBC played an essential role in establishing several new congregations. Two of these are now full fledged churches (Northside and Calvary) and the other continues to be a mission (Nada Mission).
*Report presented by the Transition Team in 2016