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A Brief History of First Baptist Church of Decatur

There wasn't a worse time to begin a church in Decatur than fall of 1862. The bloodiest single-day conflict of the Civil War, Antietam, had just been fought to a savage stalemate that foretold only prolonged horrors. Within two years, most Decatur residents would find themselves fleeing Federal troops intent on crushing Atlanta, with those remaining scavenging for food in the shambles.

Yet, on Friday night, November 21, 1862, about a half-dozen people did indeed incorporate as "the Baptist Church of Decatur." They would meet in homes, stores, the courthouse and the Presbyterian and Methodist churches, once a month and sometimes less, for the next nine years. But in that 10th year, they would reach 100 members and move into their first building, called "The Little Red Brick Church."

That new church building came largely from the donations of wealthier Baptist churches in middle Georgia and Kentucky, wrung from them on lecture tours by Miss Mary Gay, a middle-age firebrand and church "sister" who had become something of a national celebrity - no less than Samuel Clemens mocked her florid writing style - after publishing a memoir of life in Decatur during the war.

By the early 1900s, the church was strong enough to vote to hold weekly services...

– taken from "A Workshop of God's Saints," The History of First Baptist Church of Decatur, GA 1862-2012. By Karen Hill and William (Bill) Neal.


Learn more about the history of First Baptist Church of Decatur

Interested in learning more about the history First Baptist Church of Decatur? Visit our Heritage Room on Sunday mornings, or visit the Allen Memorial Library for more resources.