In December 1848, seventeen members of the Concord Baptist Church met in the home of John and Cynthia Bostick to form a new congregation, Cool Springs Baptist Church. This was the first church to be formed in the town of Burnt Chimney. Elder William Harrill, a blacksmith and cabinetmaker, was elected pastor. Church services were held in the Bostick home (Fig. 1) until 1855, when John Bostick deeded property near present-day Vance Street and a log church was built (Fig. 2). The construction in 1867 of what is known today as the Seaboard Coastline Railroad, which would run through the property, forced the church to move. Land situated on what is now Cool Springs Cemetery was donated by Mills H. Flack and Robert M. Harrill (Elder Harrill’s son), and a new frame church building was constructed (Fig. 3).

The town of Burnt Chimney changed its name to Forest City in 1887, and two years later the congregation built its third church, the first brick building in Forest City, on property donated by Elder and Mrs. J. H. Yarboro on the corner of Main and Church streets (Fig. 4). The congregation voted to change the name of their church to Forest City Baptist Church. As the church grew, a larger building was needed, and in 1913 construction began on the fourth and present-day church (Fig. 5). Designed by architect J. M. McMichael, many of the original furnishings, including curved pews and stained glass windows, are still in use today. A parsonage was added in 1923. In 1970 the parsonage was converted to house church offices, library, and kindergarten. It was razed fifteen years later.

The continued growth of Forest City Baptist Church necessitated additional educational space, so a three-story building was erected adjacent to the church. Named in honor of J. F. Alexander, the new Sunday school building was dedicated on March 13, 1927. In order to prepare for the church’s 1948 centennial celebration, the sanctuary was remodeled, including the installation of a new console for the newly rebuilt pipe organ. Pulpit furniture, the organ console, a Steinway grand piano, and chimes were donated by church members. Six years later two wings that had been utilized as Sunday school space were opened to enlarge the sanctuary. The two-story Chapel Building was built in 1956 to house a chapel, church offices, music suite, the Charles E. Nanney Memorial Library, nursery, and children’s classrooms. The entire church was also air-conditioned at that time.

The Alexander Memorial Building underwent a complete renovation and refurbishing in 1980, and a new fellowship hall and family center was also built. After forty years of radio broadcasts, the congregation voted in 1997 to add television to its communications ministry. The first TV broadcast of our Sunday morning service took place on May 30, 1999. Our church also felt a need to expand and to reach out more to the community, so a master plan was developed to renovate some space and build new space. Our new music suite, named Blair Hall, was dedicated on October 28, 2001, and a new nursery was completed in 2004. Also in 2004, our Fellowship Hall got a facelift, and the chapel was converted into a library and conference room.

In its 150+ years, First Baptist Church of Forest City has grown from seventeen charter members to over a thousand. Our growth has paralleled that of Forest City and Rutherford County. We have been blessed by God and supported by the strength of prayer, of faith, of strong leaders, of loyal workers, and a vision of spreading God’s kingdom throughout our community, our state, our nation, and our world.