Hundreds of Yazooans from near and far attended the 175th anniversary celebration held at the First Baptist Church on Sunday, Feb. 24.
The big event celebrated the formation of the church, which was originally created in 1844 with only 15 charter members.
The first location was a one-roomed brick building on Washington Street, which served as the meeting place for the congregation over the next 58 years.
In 1900, the church members felt the need for a new location and a better house of worship for their larger congregation. They selected a new location at the corner of Broadway and Monroe Streets, near downtown Yazoo City. The first service in the new building was held on October 13, 1901, but on May 24, 1904 the church was destroyed by a terrible fire that claimed over 300 other structures in Yazoo City.
For over a year, the church members came together and rebuilt First Baptist on the same spot, while holding services inside the Yazoo County Courthouse. This church building existed on Broadway Street until 1957, when the members again decided to relocate to a larger location, favoring a new structure to hold its expanding congregation.
The dedication service that opened the doors of the First Baptist Church location on Grand Avenue, took place on the morning of March 31, 1957. Services have been held there every Sunday for the last 60 years.
Last Sunday, current and former members of First Baptist Church of Yazoo City celebrated the 175th Anniversary of the organization as a whole.
The celebration began with the morning worship service, which featured musical selections and special videos from former members, missionaries and church staff. Along with other live testimonies from church members, First Baptist welcomed a special sermon from Guest Pastor Jim Futral.
Clint Ritchie, pastor of FBC Yazoo, said that he was happy with the number of visitors who came for the celebration, as well as the topic of the sermon.
"The guest pastor spoke on Jesus' words to Peter, ‘On this rock I build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.’" he said. "He just talked about how God had provided for the church over the years. He incorporated a lot of its history, from fires to floods to wars, that the church continued to survive those turbulent times."
Following the worship service, Ritchie said that around 250 people stayed to enjoy the celebration luncheon in the church fellowship hall, where members and guests were served lunch by students from the FBC Yazoo youth department.
"It's humbling to look back and know the people who made the sacrifices for this church to be as strong as it is today," Ritchie said. "They have served so faithfully, and we are always looking ahead. Our word for the year is ‘Forward.’ We can go forward because of the strong past and strong foundation that we have."
Following the theme of moving "Forward", Richie said that First Baptist held revival services from Sunday night, Feb. 24, until Wednesday night, Feb. 27.
"We spent the last 40 days prior to this event preparing spiritually for revival," He said. "We talked about worship and what it means, and we talked about it being what God expects from us. One of the speakers we had spoke about how we have this rich past, and how we can build on that and move forward, not just for this week but for the whole year."
The revival series featured three guest speakers from different areas of ministry. Jim Futral spoke on Sunday morning and evening, and returned to complete the series on Wednesday night. Ted Traylor, visiting from Pensacola, Fla., spoke to the congregation on Monday, and Rick Blythe spoke on Tuesday.
"One of the neat things that happened on Monday night was that Dr. Traylor asked everybody that was 75 and up to come forward, and everybody that was 35 and below came and stood behind them and prayed for them," Richie said.
He added that this symbolized how the different generations can help build upon each other for the future.
"I think the effectiveness of revival is seen in the days and weeks and months after the service." He said. "Revival is not limited to four days. It's seen in the people of God following that time of refreshing. I think we will see is they got the message and we truly revived, and prayerfully they were and we will continue to see that in the weeks and months ahead."