For this month’s Flashback feature, we will be going back further than we have gone before — a century and a half — to the founding of a church in Roswell.
Before we begin our story, we will set the stage by taking a look at what the local area, the state, and the country looked like 150 years ago.
The Time: The year was 1872, and much of the South was in the midst of reconstruction. The president of the United States was Ulysses S. Grant. The Governor of Georgia was James M. Smith, who is credited with ending reconstruction in Georgia. As a city, Roswell, was only 18 years old.
Roswell was still grappling with the Union Army’s 12-day occupation of the city during Sherman’s march to the sea just a few years earlier. The city’s population in 1872 was around 500 residents.
The church: It was in this postwar environment that First Baptist Roswell was founded. As the story goes, members of Willeo Baptist Church and Lebanon Baptist Church met at the historic Roswell square and first organized Roswell Baptist Church. The church would later become Roswell First Baptist Church and Roswell Second Baptist Church, which is now known as Atlanta Street Baptist.
The church was organized out of a need to have a Baptist Church within the city limits of Roswell at the time.
The first meeting place for the new church was a log schoolhouse near town square, which the congregation outgrew by 1875.
The first building the congregation constructed was a white clapboard church on South Atlanta Street, which is the current location of Atlanta Street Baptist Church.
The majority of the church members left that church in 1927 to build what is now Roswell First Baptist at the church’s current location, though the address was different. The church is now located on Mimosa Blvd., but back in 1927 that street was known as Main Street.
Now: Today, the church is over 2,000 members strong. First Baptist Roswell will host a two-day 150th Anniversary celebration Oct. 22 and 23. The event will include a meet and greet at 1 p.m. Saturday followed by a Family Festival, topped off by a Dinner at 5 p.m.
The celebration will continue during a Celebration Service at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, where Pastor Emeritus Dr. Ron Bradley will lead the service.