Many African American churches in existence today developed from a small band of worshipers who sat in the “designated section” of a white church. In this respect, First Baptist Church of Hampton is no exception. Our founders worshiped in the balcony of the Hampton Baptist Church located a short distance south of our present church site.
First Baptist moved out of the balcony of Hampton Baptist to a section of Hampton known as P.D., near Washington and Bailey Streets. A freedman named Jim Bailey gave permission to build a church on his land. The simple frame structure was erected in 1865, with Rev. Zechariah Evans (1863-1868) as its first pastor.
First Baptist’s second pastor, Rev. William Taylor (1868-1873) moved the church to North King Street. The frame church building stood on the lot to the right (north) of the present church. The land, which the church owned in P.D., was sold to Rev. and Mrs. H.P. Weeden.
On March 6, 1873, Rev. Taylor died, and Rev. Young Jackson (1873-1887) was named the third pastor of First Baptist. Rev. Jackson, who had initiated building the brick church building, died on August 17, 1887, before the developing church was ready for occupancy. He had not lived to see the church completed, but the dimensions and architecture of the new church reflected the great vision of Rev. Jackson and our founders.
In 1888, Rev. Richard Spiller (1888-1905) succeeded Rev. Jackson as First Baptist’s fourth pastor. Rev. Spiller’s outstanding accomplishment was the founding of the People’s Building and Loan Association, which held its organizational meetings in the basement of First Baptist.
In 1905, Rev. James Waddell Patterson (1905-1954) became First Baptist’s fifth pastor. His leadership lasted for almost a half-century, and the church prospered and progressed.
In September 1944, a catastrophic fire destroyed the church building. Members of the community and sister churches rallied to support First Baptist, contributing, and offering the use of their facilities. The Hampton Baptist Church presented a gift of one thousand dollars. At a cost of $90,000 dollars, the sanctuary was restored, the first floor of the educational building was erected, a new front was added, and a new electric organ was installed. On August 11, 1954, while away on vacation, Rev. Patterson died.
In October 1955, the church named Rev. James Edward Thomas (1955-1966) its sixth pastor. Rev. Thomas assumed his pastoral duties on December 1, 1955. Young and dynamic, with a burning zeal for progress, he launched plans and programs to carry the church forward and upward in its Christian mission. Rev.Thomas served First Baptist until June 1966 when he resigned. His influence within the church and community was significant in maintaining and building upon the achievements of his predecessors and the church body.
On May 15, 1967, Rev. Seymour J. Gaines (1967-1983) was named the seventh pastor of First Baptist. He became pastor when the church was facing a severe challenge to survive. During his service, community outreach was an integral part of the work of the pastor and the church.
He organized the Big Brothers of America in Hampton, and was one of the organizers for a church leadership program. He passed away in March 1983, bringing to an end an era of phenomenal church growth and development.
On March 25, 1984, Rev. Jason Carl Guice (1984-1987) was named First Baptist’s eighth pastor. During Rev. Guice’s service, First Baptist continued to grow and prosper. Nationally renowned ministers visited and shared in various church celebrations. More than 100 new members joined First Baptist, and a New Member Orientation Fellowship was established. The Gospel Choir was organized; the church purchased a computer, and established a taped outreach ministry, providing tapes of all services.
In June of 1990, First Baptist named its ninth pastor, Rev. William D. Booth (1990-2005). Rev. Booth’s dynamic and eloquent leadership moved First Baptist forward in critical areas: the building of the present sanctuary, the purchase of two new 15-passenger buses, and the establishment of a close relationship between First Baptist Church and Hampton. Rev. Booth resigned on January 22, 2005 after approximately fifteen years of outstanding service to the church and the community.
In June of 2005, Rev. Dr. Richard W. Wills, Sr. (2006-2015) was appointed Interim Pastor of First Baptist. On July 6, 2006, under his leadership, outreach, commitment to progress, church attendance, offerings, and membership increased significantly.
First Baptist Church officially named Rev. Wills its tenth pastor. Rev. Wills served faithfully until his resignation in September 2015.
In October 2016, Rev. Dr. Joan S. Parrott accepted the call to First Baptist as our Interim Pastor. She served First Baptist as our Executive Pastor during the Wills’ administration. On September 16, 2017, Rev. Parrott was voted our Senior Pastor, becoming the first female to lead our historic congregation in its 154-year history. “To God Be The Glory!”
Rev. Dr. Joan Parrott passed away on August 12, 2018.
In January 2020, Rev. Dr. Todd C. Davidson accepted the call to become the 12th senior Pastor of The First Baptist Church of Hampton. Pastor Davidson lives by his favorite Scripture, Philippians 4:13, which states, “For I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!”