First Baptist Church of Woodbury
was established in 1823 as the East Fork of Stone’s River
Baptist Church, but dissolved within a few years. It was again
established in 1844 as the Baptist Church of Christ at Woodbury.
Elder J. M. D. Cates is a founder of the church, and his name
is found in the church’s history throughout the mid 1800s.
He served as itinerant pastor during several different periods.
Church records show evidence of church discipline being administered
to wayward members, mostly for public drunkenness, dancing or
behavior unbecoming to a Christian. During the Civil War, the
records sometimes indicated that there were skirmishes in the
area, often preventing the church from having services. The first
building was a white clapboard building located where the present
sanctuary stands. There are no known pictures of the interior
of the clapboard building. Bro. Clinton Wright was called as
the first full-time pastor in the 1930s. Prior to that, a circuit
riding preacher or bi vocational pastor preached at the church
on a schedule that did not include the church having a worship
service or “preaching” as it was called every Sunday.
In 1938, the clapboard building was torn down, and the present
brick sanctuary was dedicated at a cost of $12,000. Much of
the labor for the new building was provided by the members.
modern building also had a basement that was used for Sunday
School classes. The baptistery was under a trap door on the
platform just in front of the choir loft. The first addition
to the building
was made in 1955, when the one story building to the east of
the sanctuary was constructed for $6,000. This building housed
classroom space for the young people. At that time, the baptistery
was relocated behind the choir loft. In 1960 a two-story building
was constructed on the west side of the sanctuary. This building
included office space, a nursery and additional classrooms.
In 1999-2000, the newest addition was completed on the
east side of the building that was constructed in 1955. The
Madden Fellowship Hall and the kitchen fill the lower floor,
with classrooms on the upper floor. The stained glass windows
on the front were given in memory of Miles Melton Jennings.
church name was changed to First Baptist Church in the 1970s.
The church's first organ was a Hammond Spinet model purchased
around 1950. Janey Hoover was the organist. When Mrs. Hoover
died, a Hammond E-262 Church Model was purchased in her memory.
In 1976, a three rank Reuter pipe organ was installed at a cost
of $11,000. This was greatly expanded during the 2004 renovation
of the sanctuary, and now includes five ranks of pipes and 64
digital stops controlled by a three-manual console with MIDI
capability. A Yamaha Conservatory Grand piano was dedicated in
In 2004, the sanctuary was totally renovated in a 7-month project, which included
all new lighting, an additional row of seating in the choir loft, a new sound
system, renovation of the platform area and stained glass windows. This was the
first update of the sanctuary since 1971, when air conditioning and new pews
The worship services of the church would be considered traditional. There are
Sunday School classes for all ages. An active Woman’s Missionary Union
exists. There are graded choirs for all ages. A three-octave set of Schulmerich
handbells is rung by the handbell choir. The morning worship service was first
broadcasted over WBRY radio (then WBFJ) in 1963, and continues to this day.
First Baptist Church believes in missions. She has been the mother church to
what is now Plainview Baptist Church and Lakewood Baptist Church in Coffee
County. The Don Jones family was appointed by the Foreign Mission Board of
Baptist Convention to serve from 1968-1995 as career missionaries in Taiwan.
The Glenn Herndon family left for the mission field in Colombia, South America
in 1968. Several church members have served as mission volunteers on short
mission projects in countries that include Upper Volta, Sweden, Korea, Scotland
In addition, members have served across the United States in stateside mission