200 Years of History
On Saturday, November 22, 1823 at the corner of 4th Street and Broadway, eleven Baptists met in the home of Charles Hardin, Columbia's first postmaster and father of a future governor, to organize Columbia's first church of any denomination. In addition to Hardin the original founders were Hutchins Barnett, William Ridgeway, Hannah Jewell Hardin, Harriet Goodloe, Abraham Foley, William Jewell, Henry Cave, George Jewell, Mary Jewell, and Hiram Phillips. They called it Columbia Church. Two Baptist churches had been established earlier in Boone County, Bethel Church in 1817 and Little Bonne Femme Church in 1819 prior to the founding of the City of Columbia in 1821.
The Baptists met in private homes until 1828, when they moved to the Boone County Courthouse. The first minister was Anderson Woods, one of the first judges of the Boone County Court and also the first pastor at both Bethel and Little Bonne Femme churches. When Columbia Church moved to the courthouse in 1828, Alan McGuire served as minister for the next eight years without compensation.
By 1830, the church had grown to 50 members. In 1832, the church showed a balance of 62½ cents in its treasury.
In 1836, William Jewell and Moses U. Payne, a Methodist, erected at their own expense a building used by both denominations known as the Union Church. It was built on the southwest corner of Walnut and Guitar streets. Guitar Street was located between today's Seventh and Eighth streets. It remained home to both Baptists and Methodists for two decades.
In 1856, the Baptists finally had their first church building, a 40 by 60-foot brick structure built just west of the old courthouse, across Walnut from the Union Church.
By 1891, members felt the need to expand. The building on the courthouse square was sold to the county court to make space available for today's courthouse, land was purchased at the corner of Waugh and Broadway, and a $30,000 Gothic-style church was erected. A student center was added in 1927 (our current Education Building), and in 1955, the old church was replaced by today's building dedicated on May 5, 1957. The Church has its original inaugural document from 1823.
Acknowledging Our Past Sins
First Baptist acknowledges six of our eleven founding members were enslavers, including William Jewell, William Ridgeway, Henry Cave, Charles Hardin, Hannah Jewell Hardin, and Hiram Phillips. Thus, First Baptist recognizes that we had a distorted view of the gospel of Jesus Christ upon our founding and are working to acknowledge, confess and become actively anti-racist in our faith.