My favorite story about Kingsport FBC was told to me by Mrs. Dorothy Hall the year we celebrated our 75thanniversary. We both were active in WMU (Women’s Missionary Union) and I admired and appreciated her.
We all have now heard that due to growth, the original church building became too small so in 1927 our present-day sanctuary was built. There were a few men who signed the loan document guaranteeing payment for the $100,000. Dot Hale’s father was one of those men. In 1929 when the depression hit, that commitment became a huge burden for the church and her family. She remembered doing without things as a family so her father could help try to meet the loan payment. She said the church prayed to ask the Lord to help them get out of this debt. The church started giving 50 percent of its budget to missions for spreading the gospel. The Lord got them out of debt.
I believe this is the reason our church still puts a strong emphasis on missions for spreading the gospel and a large portion of our budget is dedicated to reaching others for Jesus.
God is still honoring that commitment as we are celebrating 100 years in a new $6,000,000 building almost debt-free. To God be the glory!
~ Mary Helen Caldwell
When coming to Kingsport after getting out of college 50 years ago, I met and married my husband, David, had two wonderful children, Janet and Craig, saw Janet married in our church, dedicated four grandchildren at our Christmas Eve services, and had David’s memorial service here. It is hard to condense from all those years just one memory.
Teaching Preschool Choir has always been a fun time and interesting as we never know what kids will do in their programs, but family and friends attending always enjoyed seeing them perform. Playing handbells with Joyful Ringers was hard work but so rewarding. We enjoyed our bell trips and learned so much through the years from our directors, Bill Robinson and Susan Hoover.
I enjoyed chaperoning several high school student mission trips going to Hamilton, Ontario, Naperville, IL, and Hilton Head. There was never a dull moment from teaching backyard Bible School to doing interpretative dancing on the beach.
Having been involved with the Missions Committee for many years has given me a heart for missions as well as caring for others. From those days of deacon zones, we had the opportunity to meet and come to love so many friends and some we continue to see who are still here.
Thank you, FBC for affording our family the opportunity to be involved in so many aspects of our church all these years. Friends from our beginning time here as well as many we made along the way are so special!
~ Charlotte Devault
Much excitement when the “new” Children’s building opened in the early sixties - rooftop play area.
~ Sheila Gibson Moss
Remembering the “old” Fellowship Hall and dinners there.
~ Bill Moss
My most special memory at First Baptist Church has been participating in Disciple Now both as a student and now as a college leader. As a student, I made memories worshipping and learning about Jesus with my best friends, making pizza with Danny Silvey’s face on it, going on scavenger hunts throughout Downtown Kingsport, and having one giant, weekend-long sleepover with all of the girls. Now as a college leader, I have made a whole different set of memories. It has been really cool to be on the other side of the equation now. I have been able to mentor and pray over the awesome young ladies. I have so much fun spending time with them and getting to know them. My hope is I am making an impact on them as my leaders did on me while I was a student. Growing up at First Baptist Church has consistently been my favorite memory!
~ Elaine Greenfield
Bill and I joined FBC shortly before Dr. E. Gibson Davis retired. I can still hear his Scottish brogue as he often prayed. “The silver is Mine; the gold is Mine; the cattle on a thousand hills are Mine.”
One Christmas Eve service stands out. There was a live Mary (Lisa Piercy), Joseph, and baby Jesus. The story was told of the composition of “Silent Night” when the priest and schoolmaster hurriedly wrote the words and music for their Christmas Eve service when the organ would not function. It was sung by both men accompanied by the schoolmaster on his guitar. Bill Robinson played the guitar as we sang “Silent Night”. Beautiful!
Music minister Bill Robinson’s birthday came one summer during VBS. At refreshment time, Bill was surprised with a birthday cake and candles. He was asked to cut the cake to serve us. He had difficulty cutting it because the cake was made of CARDBOARD! He laughed with us.
Hearing aging Clarence Bryan singing in our choir the solo part of “The Longer I Know Him, the Sweeter He Grows”. We were all blessed.
~ Barbara Payne
I look back around thirty years to a wonderful couple's Sunday School class with Ruth and Ray Herring as our wonderful and wise teachers. Each Sunday was something to look forward to, to learn more about the Bible and how we could apply it in our lives. I will never forget one of the things that Ray said about heaven wouldn’t be heaven without children. Most likely someone had lost a child in death. Also, a trip we made to Traveler’s Rest, SC for a retreat with them to be under the teaching of Max Rice, a godly man sitting at his feet for teaching, as well. The food was good too. It truly was a mountaintop experience. I thank God for their influence on my life and the wonderful memories of those two wonderful Christians that I had the privilege of knowing and loved.
~ Leland Leonard
We have been members of First Baptist Church for 10 years. Our favorite memory would have to be after we had visited the church a couple of Sundays looking for a home church. We got a home visit from a very sweet couple, Bill and Ruth Dunn. They just happened to be members of the Friendship Sunday School Class. The following Sunday we were met in the Welcome Center by none other than Mr. Bill Dunn to direct us to make sure we found our way to the Friendship Sunday School Class. In this class, we found the warmest and friendliest people we have ever encountered in any church we had ever attended. We did not waste any more time trying to find a home church because we knew First Baptist Church, Friendship Sunday School Class was our home. We also joined the choir and under the direction of Susan Hoover, every time we practice or sing is a great memory. We can’t say enough to express all the other great memories we have since becoming members of First Baptist.
~ Ed and Gerea Hayman
I remember as a small child, being in the large group Sunday School area before going into small group classes, and if it was your birthday, you were celebrated in a special way. The birthday person sat in a small chair under a flowered arch and everyone sang “Happy Birthday”. Then I would drop pennies of my age (4, 5, 6) into a special jar, as all counted aloud. Every child looked forward to their birthday in Sunday School at FBC!
~ Martha Breeding
Doug and I were married in my home church (FBC, Elizabethton) Easter weekend of 1964. Following our honeymoon, we returned to Kingsport where we both were employed with Tennessee Eastman Co. Our first Sunday as newlyweds we attended FBC, Kingsport. (We had decided earlier to be a part of this church.) At the end of the service, Doug came from the choir and met me as I came down the aisle. Dr. William Purdue was the new pastor and warmly welcomed both of us.
Our son, John Alan, was born a few years later and grew up in this church making lifelong friends. We have had so many wonderful years as part of this body of Christ.
~ Rosalie Smith
Thirty-six years ago, on Palm Sunday, John, Kent and I went to the early service as we were ready, and left Connie to come later. That morning, during the call, Kent got up and I started to pull him back as I wanted Connie to be there for this moment in our life to see our son profess his faith in Christ. But I drew back and let him proceed to the front of the sanctuary. This church has been a great influence in our family’s life, and this moment I will never forget. The members of our church that teach Sunday School, VBS, RA’s and music help sow the seeds that allow the Holy Spirit to work and save our children. Thanks for our great fellowship and to God.
~ Connie Leonard
My introduction to Christ, my Baptist faith, and my Christian foundation began at the First Baptist Church of Kingsport. As the only child of Harold and Lydia Davis, I spend a great deal of my time at FBC and many of my happiest memories are of events, friends, and my faith which developed and grew at FBC.
Remembering especially Sunday School classes, Vacation Bible School, Training Union, miniature golf at Warriors Path State Park and the night I won first prize, Sword Drills, the Sweetheart banquet when I was 16, singing in the choir and the practices, our beautiful church redecoration in light pink and cream velveteen and the gorgeous chandeliers, which made the sanctuary the prettiest in town. Years later we learned that our sanctuary’s stained-glass windows were designed by a father and son from Lansing, Michigan, where I was in graduate school (and later served MSU for over 35 years as a Vice President) and that they had also designed the windows of the chapel on the MSU campus, bonded me even closer to my home church.
Now after 35+ years, I have returned to Kingsport and am home again at First Baptist. I feel reconnected not only to my church but also to my faith which is hard to describe. Recalling especially when I was baptized as a nine-year-old, the words of Pastor Dr. E. Gibson Davis who said as I stood, “And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water.” I think of those beautiful words when I am in our sanctuary, and feel HIS guidance and recommit to finding more ways to follow HIM.
~ Dr. Mary Lee Davis
September 28, 2017

© 2020 by First Baptist Church of Kingsport, Tennessee.

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