Newly Published History of First Baptist Church
Always Becoming New:
A History of First Baptist Church Athens, Georgia
Written by FBC Member and Church Historian
Ernest C. (Ernie) Hynds
Ernest C. (Ernie) Hynds is emeritus professor of journalism and former head of the Department of Journalism at the Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications, University of Georgia. He is also a longtime member of our congregation and our church historian.
Dr. Hynds says the church is characterized by its positive response to unending changes in community, culture, and attitudes toward religion and the church and by its willingness to try different approaches as needed to become a new and more effective church.
Since its founding in 1830, the church has not only persevered through civil war, reconstruction, world wars, depression, flight to suburbia, social change, new technology and other challenges, but also has become more committed to missions at home and abroad and developed strong programs in education, music, and other areas, and exerted a positive influence in both the denomination and the community.
The history is organized to provide a readable narrative of the First Baptist story and provide record information on governance, missions, education, music, age-related ministries, denominational relations, and other topics. The sections on denominational relations describe in some detail the process through which First Baptist reached its decision to withdraw from the Southern and Georgia Baptist Conventions.
Early chapters cover developments in time frames such as the founding years, building church in the antebellum period, transitions in the decades after the civil war, and growth and expansion in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The other chapters describe developments during the administrations of prominent ministers, including Drs. Jim Wilkinson, Howard Giddens, Julian Cave, Jon Appleton and Bill Ross and interim minister Kent Anglin.
In addition, the book includes appendices that list ministers and lay leaders such as deacon chairmen, Woman’s Missionary Union presidents, and Sunday School Superintendents; a timeline of major events such as starting new churches and constructing new facilities; documents such as the Covenant adopted in 1840 and the resolution to withdraw from the Southern Baptist Convention passed in 2000; and endnotes to help readers find additional material on the topic if desired.
The author used church and Sarepta Baptist Association records, interviews with current and former ministers, staff, and lay persons, letters, photographs, newspapers, books, and other materials in the research. The narrative includes many illustrations and anecdotes to help tell the story.
Always Becoming New is dedicated to Mary Ann Hynds, the author’s wife and companion for more than 57 years. She served as a Sunday School teacher for more than 50 years and served as an associate department director in the Sunday School for many of them. She also has served as a deacon, committee member and committee chairperson, Training Union leader, Vacation Bible School teacher, choir member, and officer in the Woman’s Mission Union, including three terms as president. The dedication describes Mrs. Hynds as “one of those loving, dedicated Christians whose lives exemplify who First Baptist is and who it aspires to become,”
Copies are available through our Church Office at a cost of $25.00 per copy. You may purchase a copy by calling the office at 706.548.1359.