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"In Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others." - Romans 12:5


First Baptist Church is a unique Baptist congregation with an historic commitment to inclusiveness, ecumenism, missions, and social justice. We honor and celebrate the inspiration of holy scripture, the priesthood of all believers, the autonomy of the local church, and the servant leadership of both men and women. As a family of faith, we commit our material and spiritual gifts to the work of God's Kingdom in our community and throughout the world. We educate persons in Christian discipleship, nurture personal and spiritual growth, minister to those in need, and embrace all who seek truth and love.  

    First Baptist Church of Savannah, Georgia is an inclusive family of faith seeking to follow Jesus, who turned no one away. Neither do we. We believe Jesus treated everyone with a spirit of love and equality. Therefore, we accept every individual without regard to age, gender, race, ethnicity, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, political affiliation, or socio-economic status. We affirm all persons as created in the image of God. At First Baptist Church, individuals can find family, families can find community, the injured can find healing, and all can seek truth and justice. We labor together in love for each other, our community, our world, and our God. No matter who you are or where you are on life's journey, you are welcomed, accepted, and loved.
    The First Baptist Church of Savannah, Georgia, was chartered on November 26, 1800, and soon thereafter the first meeting house was built on Franklin Square. The cornerstone of the present church on Chippewa Square was laid on February 2, 1831, and the building was completed in 1833. This Greek Revival structure is Savannah’s oldest standing house of worship. The sanctuary was enlarged in 1839, improved from time to time, and completely renovated in 1921. The most recent renovations were in 1966, 1989-1990, and 1998-1999. The church was granted a perpetual charter on December 19, 1801, by Governor Josiah Tattnall, Jr., to “the Deacons of the Baptist Church in Savannah.” The name has been the First Baptist Church since February 4, 1847. The Sunday School was organized on April 29, 1827. Henry Holcombe, first pastor of the church, edited The Analytical Repository, said to have been the earliest religious magazine in the South and the first Baptist missionary magazine in the nation. William Bullein Johnson, second pastor, became the first president of the Southern Baptist Convention, after retiring as president of the Triennial Convention. In 1828, Josiah Penfield, a deacon in the church, left a legacy of $2,500 to the Georgia Baptist Convention, which became the first money given toward the establishment of Mercer University, principal Baptist college of Georgia. In 1844, Joseph Binney left the pastorate of this church to go to Burma to become associated with Adoniram Judson, leader of the first Baptist missionary group to go out from the United States. This church was one of the very few Southern coastal churches that did not close during the Civil War. Pastor Sylvanus Landrum preached one Sunday to a congregation made up largely of Confederate soldiers, and the next Sunday he preached to one largely of Union soldiers, Savannah having surrendered during the week. Three pastors of this church have become outstanding leaders in Baptist denominational life. W.L. Pickard became president of Mercer University, Norman W. Cox became executive secretary of the Historical Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and Arthur Jackson became the first secretary of the Georgia Baptist Foundation. Recent pastors have included Leroy Cleverdon (1942-1961), W. Forrest Lanier (1962-1969), Thomas D. Austin (1970-1988), Fred W. Andrea (1989-1993), John M. Finley (1994-2017), and Katie & John Callaway (2019-2022). A historical marker was placed in front of the church in 2002. Click here to learn more. The historic sanctuary is open for tours most Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm. Visits to our History Room may be arranged through the church office. If you would like to purchase a copy of our history book,"Pilgrims Through the Years" by George Schriver (1999), please contact the church office.
    REV. DR. KYLE T. REESE Senior Minister Kyle Reese is the Senior Minister of the First Baptist Church of Savannah. Before coming to Savannah, Kyle served as Executive Director of OneJax and pastor of Hendricks Avenue Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida. Kyle serves on the Baptist Health System Board and is a consultant for the Center for Healthy Churches. Active in Baptist life, Kyle is the past moderator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, having served as preacher at the 2011 Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly in Tampa, Florida. Kyle also served on the board of Baptist News Global for nine years, six of which as chairperson. A native of Texas, Dr. Reese earned degrees from Wayland Baptist University, George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University, and Northern Seminary. Kyle is married to Dr. Karla Repper, a clinical psychologist who works with children and adolescents. Click HERE to read more about Kyle's appointment to FBC. REV. DR. JUSTIN L. ADDINGTON Associate Minister for Music & Worship Justin Addington is the Associate Minister for Music & Worship at the First Baptist Church of Savannah. Originally from Cowpens, South Carolina, Justin holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education from Limestone College, a Master of Church Music degree in Choral Conducting from Concordia University Wisconsin, and a Doctorate of Theology in Worship Studies from the Robert E. Webber Institute. With over twenty years of experience as a church musician, Justin has also taught music in the public schools, served as a board member/officer for several arts-related organizations, and worked as a musical director and pianist for community and professional theatre companies. In the Savannah community, Justin is the accompanist for the Richmond Hill High School Chorus, as well as the conductor of the newly-formed Savannah Men's Chorale. To learn more about Justin and his work, visit REV. JAMES C. RICHARDSON Organist Emeritus James Richardson is the Organist Emeritus of First Baptist Church of Savannah. He served as Associate Minister and Organist from 1971 to 2012 and returned in an interim capacity from 2019 to the spring of 2021. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Mars Hill College and a Master of Church Music degree and Performers' Certificate from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He holds the title of Associate in the American Guild of Organists, and has served as Dean of the local chapter numerous times. James was ordained to the ministry by the First Baptist Church of Savannah in 1978. REV. EMILY RICHARDSON-DION Assistant Minister for Discipleship Emily Richardson-Dion is the Assistant Minister for Discipleship at the First Baptist Church of Savannah. Emily has been teaching in the public school system since 2006 and has taught all ages from Pre-K through the college level. Emily received her bachelor's degree with a major in Religion and a minor in Psychology from the University of the South in Sewanee, TN, and her Master of Theological Studies degree from The Candler School of Theology of Emory University. Emily received her Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Georgia State University and her Specialist Degree in Elementary Education from Georgia Southern University where she is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Curriculum Studies. Emily grew up in Savannah where she now lives with her husband, Keith, and daughter, Jacqueline. GINA K. SHIELDS Office Manager Gina Shields is the Office Manager for the First Baptist Church of Savannah. Originally from New Jersey, she went to The College of New Jersey where she graduated with a Bachelors of Music in Vocal Performance. She also lived in Philadelphia for several years where she received her Masters in Business from Drexel University. Gina moved from Los Angeles, CA about five years ago to beautiful Savannah and loves living here! Her professional life has been in finance, banking, and communications. She has also owned several of her own businesses, including a fine dining Italian-American restaurant. Gina also sings in the First Baptist Church choir. JASON RAUB Facilities Manager Jason Raub is the Facilities Manager for the First Baptist Church of Savannah. He attended Purdue University and Columbia College. After college, Jason and his wife made their home in Atlanta. On a weekend getaway to Savannah, they fell in love with the area and decided to stay. Jason brings a great deal of know-how and experience to his role of Facilities Manager. In his previous role, he was Facility Manager with the Islands YMCA for 17 years. Jason and his wife, Bianca, have been married for 22 years, and together they have a 19 year old son, Pax, and a 16 year old daughter, Willow. ROBERT B. FENDER Financial Coordinator The finances for the First Baptist Church of Savannah are under the care of Sadowsky & Company. Our on-site representative is Robert B. Fender. Robert started with Sadowski and Company in September of 2019. He previously worked as a financial analyst and finance manager for companies in the medical device industry in Savannah and Chicago. Robert received his BBA in Business from the University of Alabama.
    Our understanding of Baptist faith and practice is expressed by our emphasis on freedom in biblical interpretation and congregational governance, the participation of women and men in all aspects of church leadership and ministry, and religious liberty for all people. While we hold Baptist views about the Christian faith, we also rejoice in our Lord’s gracious gifts to our fellow believers, who are called by names other than Baptist. The beliefs listed below are adapted from the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Priesthood of All Believers — We believe in the priesthood of all believers* and affirm the freedom and responsibility of every person to relate directly to God without the imposition of creed or the control of clergy or government. Scriptural Authority — We believe in the authority of Scripture. We believe the Bible, under the Lordship of Christ, is central to the life of the individual and the church. We affirm the freedom and right of every Christian to interpret and apply Scripture under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Congregational Autonomy — We believe in the autonomy of every local church. We believe Baptist churches are free, under the Lordship of Christ, to determine their membership and leadership, to order their worship and work, to ordain whomever they perceive as gifted for ministry, and to participate as they deem appropriate in the larger body of Christ. Separation of Church and State — We believe in the freedom of religion, freedom for religion, and freedom from religion. We support the separation of church and state. Lordship of Christ — We confess Jesus to be God’s Son, the Messiah. He gave his life for our sake, and comes again and again by the Holy Spirit, to communicate himself to his people - the Church. * First Baptist Church practices believer's baptism by immersion, which means that we typically baptize adults upon profession of their faith. However, all forms of baptism from other denominations are accepted. New members to our church are not required to be baptized again.
    In 2000, the church officially dissolved its ties with the Southern Baptist Convention after 155 years because of "differing views on the role of the pastor in church government, autonomy of local congregations, the priesthood of all believers, and the Convention’s view that orthodox adherence to its view is prerequisite to full participation in Baptist life." Our congregation now supports the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the Baptist World Alliance. Members of our church are also members of the Alliance of Baptists, and the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists.
    First Baptist Church is autonomous, which means that we are not subject to the control of a larger denominational body. The congregation is the final authority on all major church decisions, with each member having an equal voice. Standing committees and task forces are in place to govern the day-to-day operations of the church. Those serving in leadership are named by the Nominating Committee and approved by the church in conference.
    The purpose of First Baptist Church, Savannah, Georgia, is to worship within the fellowship of believers, to seek to know God through prayer and study of the Holy Bible, to minister in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to make known his name and will among all people. - Article II of the Bylaws of FBC We, the members of First Baptist Church, Savannah, Georgia, covenant together to seek: God's heart...through active participation in worship, individual and congregational Bible study, and a life of personal and corporate prayer. In community...creating an atmosphere of welcome where all persons are accepted and respected, engaging each other in a celebration of all life, strengthening the unity of the church with honest and positive dialogue, and cultivating the next generation of children and youth through programs and participation. We embrace our calling...with a commitment to undergird the church through a process of discerning our gifts, abilities, and resources and exercising them as Christian stewards, to support efforts in outreach and mission through active participation, and to stand with the poor and powerless on issues of social justice.
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