First Baptist Church, Smackover plans centennial celebration

First Baptist Church (FBC) in Smackover is approaching its 100-year anniversary. To commemorate the milestone, the church has planned a two-day celebration.  

Events are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, April 13-14. Saturday’s events begin at 3 pm, with a meal served at 5 pm and a program of music by former ministers of music under the direction of Jonna Bates from 6-7 pm. Sunday will begin with coffee and donuts at 8:30 a.m. followed by Sunday school led by Rev. Ray Wells at 9:15 a.m. The worship service led by Rev. Don Moore assisted by Rev. Carley Davis and Rev. Ross Woodbury starts at 10:30 a.m. A catered meal will be served at 11:30 am with time for visiting following the meal.   

The history of First Baptist Church (FBC) in Smackover has very humble beginnings.  Eight women met in the small lobby of the Wells Hotel on Monday, March 17, 1924.  They officially organized a Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU), and a small tabernacle was built soon after. The tabernacle was built within a week by volunteer labor.  The small congregation sat on rough-cut wooden benches.  Construction was completed in mid-April 1924.   

The church’s first pastor was Rev. Otto Mathis.  By 1942, there were 473 enrolled in Sunday school with an average attendance of 255 and growing.  On March 10, 1953, a new sanctuary was completed.  

In the next few decades, FBC continued as the world kept growing and changing.  From 1982 through 1986, Sunday school averaged 202.  In 1988, FBC ranked second among the 52 churches in the Liberty Baptist Association in baptisms. Then, “Foundation of the 90’s” plan was initiated and included several innovative projects that would have a lasting effect on the church’s future. This plan was kicked off with a Lay Renewal Weekend led by various “lay” people who came as a team to minister in small group settings, as well as in worship sessions featuring personal testimonies from the team.  

That weekend resulted in many FBC members committing to renewed service, using their spiritual gifts for the good of the church and community. The “Planned Growth in Giving” campaign was another part of the “Foundation” plan which reaped lasting financial benefit by gaining new tithers and spurring existing tithers to increase their giving beyond the ten percent threshold. This foundational plan has built a firm foundation for FBC to continue being a strong body of believers who strive to be good stewards to plant seeds for Christ.  

The church has continued to grow and develop as it reaches out into the community to reach the lost for Jesus. The church’s latest large project was the Family Life Center (FLC), which was voted on for budgeting in 2014, dedicated in 2018, and completely paid off in 2023.   

Though currently searching for a pastor, the church continues to thrive in the community and remains faithful as a congregation to move forward as the Lord leads. Under the direction of dedicated volunteers, the church has an outstanding children’s ministry that includes Sunday school, children’s church and a very active Wednesday evening that includes teaching the students and feeding them a meal. This ministry reaches many families in the community that are outside current membership and has led to bringing families to church membership.  

Each month a group of members meet to divide into pairs and visit the shut-ins of the community. The Heart-to-Heart ministry of FBC aids those with various needs, including transportation for doctor appointments, grocery shopping, and small home repairs. While not a church program, a very generous and faithful member assisted by his Sunday school class, hosts a monthly fish fry in the FLC. This event is open to anyone in the community over the age of 70 to come and enjoy a free lunch and great fellowship. Volunteers also deliver approximately 20 plates from the fish fry each month to shut-ins. These ministries along with the church’s youth program, Sunday school and worship, remain strong due to the faithfulness of members, dedication of the deacon body, and worship services led by interim pastor, Bro. Ken Overton.  

The church is looking forward to a new project to begin as soon as the members plan renovations for their sanctuary. Perhaps the following quote from long-time, now deceased, member Donald Lambert says it best, “The progressive spirit that has characterized this congregation from its beginning, emphasizes the impressive reality of individual worship led by God’s Spirit.  Many things change through the passage of time but the call of God to reach and minister to people is always the same.” 

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7 Responses

  1. The five years I served as Worship Leader was the most enjoyable years I have ever serve a congregation. A congregation that welcomed my wife and I from the very beginning of service. FBC is the most loving church we have ever been associated with. We miss them greatly and continue to stay in contact with them and continue to pray for all that is involved with FBC SMACKOVER.

  2. I was saved at First Baptist Smackover when I was 9 years old, and I was very privileged as a young person to have Bro. Don Moore as the Youth Director there. He later officiated at our marriage. My husband and I are planning to attend the Centennial Celebration!

    David and Mary Lou James Patterson
    Houston, Texas

  3. We are so very pleased that in addition to the wonderful men already listed above who will have part in our celebration, Dr. Hess Hester, a former pastor, will be able to be with us and be bringing a message during the Sunday school as well.
    It’s going to be a great weekend and we are so thankful for all who will come join us.

  4. Tentative schedule of events for FBC Smackover 100 year anniversary celebration, April 13-14
    3 to 3:30-arrive, sign in, mingle
    3:30-Welcome by Richard Ray
    -Introduction of former staff by Glenn Thomas followed by brief (3-8 minute) talk by each about their ministry experiences/where they’ve been since FBC days
    4:30 Message from Dr. Mike Spradlin
    5-Potluck meal

    6-Music program directed by Jonna Bates featuring former ministers of music

    8:30-Donuts, coffee, milk, juice in alcove near library
    9:15-Sunday school Led by Bro. Ray Wells and Dr. Hess Hester
    All adults and teens meet in sanctuary
    Children classes meet as usual
    10:30-Worship service led by Bro. Don Moore assisted by Bro. Ross Woodbury and Bro. Carley Davis.
    11:30-catered meal in the family life Center followed by visiting through the afternoon

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