History of Mississippi Baptists

The history of Baptists in Mississippi dates back to 1791. The events that transpired from then until the present day help us to understand and acknowledge our heritage of Mississippi Missions. Had it not been for our forefathers who undertook dangerous journeys and championed overwhelming odds in search for religious freedom we would not have celebrated our Bi-Centennial year in 1991.

History has shown us that in 1791, Richard Curtis Jr. with a group of 35 Baptists embarked on a journey by boat from South Carolina heading westward in search of a place where they could be free from religious persecution. Near the end of a long and treacherous journey they found themselves traveling south down the Mississippi River. Along this journey they reached Cole Creek which empties into the Mississippi river about twenty miles north of Natchez. Turning up Cole Creek they discovered an ideal location to stake their claim and establish a new community.

Acknowledging the providence shown by the Creator, this new community immediately established themselves and started conducting church services in the home of John Stampley. It was during this time that the congregation was organized into a New Testament church. Pastor Richard Curtis, Jr. led in the organization service of Salem Baptist Church. Little did they know what blessings from God would flow to others as a result of their effort. Much like the Psalmist, the members of Salem Baptist Church desired a house for God where they could worship, and in 1805 the first church building was constructed.

Most historians agree that the establishment and organization of Salem Baptist Church was the beginning of the Baptist work in Mississippi. Just as the churches of the Baptist Missionary Association of Mississippi can trace their lineage by doctrine back to the shores of Galilee and the First Baptist Church in Jerusalem, we acknowledge that our history passes through the congregation of Salem Baptist Church on Cole Creek in 1791.

In 1800 Farmington Baptist Church of Corinth, Mississippi was organized and is the oldest church listed in the Baptist Missionary Association of America Directory and handbook. Antioch Baptist Church of Soso, Mississippi was organized in 1805 and is recognized as the second oldest BMA church in Mississippi. Through God’s blessing these two churches continue their ministries today.

In 1806 the first Mississippi Baptist Association was formed. Through our years of mission history the Lord has kept the Mississippi Baptist work strong, enabling us to continue sharing God’s plan of eternal salvation and building New Testament Churches.

Along the way Mississippi Baptists have faced unique and trying circumstances. In 1950 a group of Baptist churches from several states separated from the “American Baptist Association” and organized the “North American Baptist Association”. The Baptist Churches from Mississippi involved in the separation became the “North American Baptist Association of Churches of Mississippi”. In 1969 the “North American Baptist Association of America” was renamed the “Baptist Missionary Association of America.”

Since 1939, the Baptist Missionary Association of Mississippi (the current name) has been blessed to have eight (9) Directors of Missions. These directors who served our historical churches in the leadership role of Missions throughout the state are as follows:

  • Bro. Ollie Parker (1939 – 1952 and 1955 – 1957)
  • Bro. H.L. Gardner (1953 – 1954)
  • Bro. B.J. Knight (1954 – 1955)
  • Bro. Vern D. Holiñeld (1957 – 1965 and 1971 – 1974)
  • Bro. Eugene Murphy (1965 – 1971)
  • Bro. Arnold Knight (1974 – 1990)
  • Bro. Stephen Howell (1990 – 1994)
  • Bro. Rayburn Freeman (1994 – March 2011)
  • Bro. Larry Geraldson (October 2011 – Present)

In 1957, under the leadership of mission director Bro. Vern D. Holifield, the Revolving Loan Fund was created. Together with missions the Revolving Loan Fund has remained under the direction of the Missions director.

God has truly blessed the mission efforts of the Baptist Missionary Association of Mississippi Missions Department. During its history, the State Missions Department has seen more than 100 mission projects organized into New Testament Churches. The Baptist Missionary Association of Mississippi stands in awe, knowing that all this was made possible by God’s providence and His blessings.

Since the humble beginning of the first Mississippi Baptist Association in 1806, the number of churches have increased while remaining united and strong with one cause: That is sharing the precious gospel of Jesus Christ worldwide.

If you would like to read more about the history of Baptist in Mississippi, click on this link  A Survey of Mississippi Baptist History