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First Baptist Roswell celebrates 140 years
by Joan Durbin
October 03, 2012 02:27 PM | 2335 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
From left, Historic Committee members Pastor Ron Bradley, Suzanne Cockrel and Elwyn Gaissert stand with one of the displays prepared for the 140 anniversary and homecoming at First Baptist Church Roswell.
From left, Historic Committee members Pastor Ron Bradley, Suzanne Cockrel and Elwyn Gaissert stand with one of the displays prepared for the 140 anniversary and homecoming at First Baptist Church Roswell.
When 16 members of Willeo Baptist Church and six members of Lebanon Baptist Church met in 1872 in a little log school close to the Roswell Mill, they laid the groundwork for what would eventually become one of Roswell’s most respected religious institutions.

They came together to form what is now First Baptist Church Roswell because they felt that the fledging town needed a Baptist church inside the city limits of Roswell, which at the time comprised barely one square mile.

Three years later, the growing congregation built a white clapboard church building on South Atlanta Street where Atlanta Street Baptist now stands.

In 1927, under the leadership of Rev. Ralph M. Donehoo, the church was moved to what is now Mimosa Boulevard on land where a grist mill and wooden structure stood.

Now, 140 years later, First Baptist Roswell has had 18 pastors and currently has 2,230 members. On Sunday, the church is celebrating its anniversary with a special homecoming service and old-fashioned church supper on the grounds.

For Jan Moore, a 56-year member, researching the church’s background has been fascinating.

Moore and other members of a history committee uncovered a trove of information, including a number of “firsts” for the women of the church.

Annie Houze Cook was the first woman in the 1930s to teach a boy’s Sunday School class called the Millionaire Class. “She always thought of them as millionaires for the rewards they would receive in Heaven. She taught this group of young men until they were grown and married and then taught the first co-ed class that encompassed their wives,” Moore said.

In 1987 Mrs. Bo Buice, a school teacher and the wife of Luke Buice, owner of the ACE Hardware store, became the first woman deacon of the church, Moore said. “This action was most unheard of in the 1980s, but she assumed the mantle with grace and kindness.”

First Baptist has had three preachers with longevity. In addition to Donehoo, who served from 1915 to 1935, Rev. Brantley Seymour served from 1949 to 1983 and is credited with seeing that land was bought for sanctuary expansion.

The current pastor, Dr. Ron Bradley, has been there since 1997.

“I often think about the broad shoulders we are standing on,” he said. “It’s only because of what has been and the wonderful way the pastors and congregations carried on in the past that we are where we are today.”

Bradley said the church is “already looking forward to the next 140 years.” It is now engaged in “trying to set the stage for the next decade,” he said.

On Sunday, there will be one church service at 10 a.m. Rev. Donehoo’s grandson, Dr. Paris Donehoo, will deliver the message “Heroes and Horse Thieves.” There will be displays throughout the church for views of the past, present and future.

Dinner follows the service. “Everyone can bring a covered dish, and we will have ham, fried chicken and drinks,” Moore said.

The church is at 710 Mimosa Boulevard. For more information, go to
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