First Baptist grew out of 'praying society'

What began as an 18-person gathering in a downtown "praying society" has burgeoned to occupy a 30-acre site in west Augusta.


First Baptist Church, the birthplace of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1845, stands as a consistent testimony in a denomination that focuses much of its energies on home missions and world evangelization.

First Baptist Church grew out of Kiokee Baptist Church in Appling, the oldest Baptist church in Georgia. The pastor of the first gathering of Baptists in Augusta was William Theophilus Brantley, who came to town in the early 1800s as an eager 22-year-old principal of the Academy of Richmond County.

He played an active role in the gathering of the first organized Augusta Baptists, who called themselves the Praying Society. In 1811, Brantley accepted a call to preach in Beaufort, S.C. The Augusta group continued meeting without him in one another's homes and eventually met for services in the Richmond County Courthouse.

Brantley was called back to lead the group in 1819. They then began to call themselves the Baptist Church of Christ and met in the academy chapel.

In 1829, the members paid $1,500 for a plot of land on Greene Street, where the Southern Baptist Convention was founded in 1845.

First Baptist Church -- as it was later named -- moved from the corner of Eighth and Greene streets in 1975 to Walton Way Extension, where it has continued to grow and expand its facilities and its mission.