Meridian, Mississippi There aren't many church congregations in Lauderdale County dating back to 1839. In fact, First Baptist, Meridian, is the oldest on record for the County. This weekend the church will celebrate its 175th anniversary. Preparing for the event has been a great time of reminiscing for church members, as they look forward to the church's journey of faith for generations to come.
When you walk into First Baptist Church, Meridian, you notice the traditional elegance of the sanctuary. But as Pastor Raymon Leake explains, it's not the facility or the furnishings that make up First Baptist. "It's not about the stained glass windows. It's not about the grand piano, and the wonderful organ. It's about the work that we do on behalf of Jesus Christ."
That work of serving others dates back to the very beginnings of the church some 175 years ago. From spreading the gospel to other parts of the world, to starting other churches over the years in Lauderdale County, to serving neighbors in need, First Baptist members continue to have that mission spirit.
One member who has been serving the church's children for as long as anyone can remember is Pat McCubbin. She remembers many funny stories, including the time in 1961 when an uncooperative child hid under a table just as a fellow teacher was trying to introduce the kids to the new preacher, Dr. Beverly Tinnin. "She just thought she would leave him under there, that it might be easier," McCubbin recalled. "So Bev met all the children and talked to them, and as they were finishing up, she said to him, 'Now we have one child who is under the table,' and he said, 'Oh, yes, I know that. He bit me on the leg!'"
Members young and old have funny stories, but they also have many warm memories.. And a common word seems to be "family" when asked about First Baptist.
"If you're going through hard times, good times, bad times, you can always pick up the phone and talk to your pastor, talk to anybody in your church family," said church member Greg Monsour.
Monsour's wife, Kathryn adds "The people here are who I want to tell when something exciting happens, who I want to pray for, and who I want by my side if i'm having fun." It's that connection, Leake says, the church body will celebrate this weekend. 175 years of sharing Christ's love. "If we can bring people closer to Him, and touch people in the loving way that Jesus would have touched them, I think our legacy will be a lasting one."