On November 7, 1840, nine members who had asked to be withdrawn from Bethel Baptist Church for the purpose of establishing a Church in Clinton, met and constituted the Clinton United Baptist Church of Christ. On Sunday, November 8, these two men and seven women called J.S. Corum as their first pastor and ordained John Jarnigan as the first deacon.
A small, single-room building with a bell and belfry, and crude, rough benches for 250 people was erected near the old Baptist Cemetery on Edgewood Avenue. In 1893, First Baptist Church occupied a new, more centrally located building on Main Street. The First Baptist Church of today, is still at that location on Main Street in the heart of Clinton.
In 1956, Clinton, Tennessee was the first city to desegregate a state-supported high school in the south. The following information about this time in the history of the City of Clinton and First Baptist Church is from the Green McAdoo Cultural Center website – www.greenmcadoo.com. “Rev. Paul Turner, a white minister of First Baptist Church in Clinton, made his contribution when he escorted 10 of the 12 black students to school on December 4, 1956. When Turner returned from his walk, he was assaulted by a mob and badly beaten. The following Sunday he preached to his congregation, “there are no color lines at the cross.” News of the assault spread throughout the town. Reverend Alan Jones, current pastor of Asbury United Methodist Church says “Segregation may have won a victory against integration had Rev. Paul Turner not taken the initiative to walk with the African-American students to Clinton High School that particular day.”
The Church facilities have undergone several major renovations and building programs – adding Sunday School rooms and a new Sanctuary. The present Sanctuary was completed in 1939 and the Education Building in 1960. The FBC Family Life Center opened in March 2005 and provides a facility for worship, concerts, gatherings, and many other events. The Family Life Center features a walk track, weight room, and gym. The Upward Basketball program takes place in the Gym and offers an opportunity for the boys and girls of Clinton to participate in sports where sportsmanship and competitiveness are kept in proper perspective.
The leadership of First Baptist has committed to meet the needs of growing, changing Church families. As with their predecessors, the Church leadership has continued to have the vision to provide facilities in which the Church can effectively minister and carry the Gospel of Jesus Christ into the twenty-first century.
The old bell in the tower was carried from building to building to its present lofty place in the Main Street belfry. From this steeple you look down on a much different Clinton than that seen by our ancestors, but the vision is the same. As was the desire of early settlers who constituted First Baptist Church, this bell rings out calling Clinton families to Bible Study and Worship.