1833 - to Present

Click here for a list of   pastors throughout our history

The purpose of First Baptist is to share the gospel of Jesus Christ by witnessing to the lost, discipling the saved, ministering to needs, and promoting Christian Fellowship.

The church that began as a mission in 1842, continues to believe that reaching people with the good news of the gospel is our reason for being.

The church gives 10% of all un-designated funds to the Cooperative Program of the Southern Baptist Convention. 3% of un-designated funds are given to the Holston Baptist Association. In addition, 3% of offerings are given to other Southern Baptist Mission causes. The church also supports local ministry through a program called "My Dollar for Ministry" which distributes food and clothing in our community and helps many people with utility bills, medical assistance, medicine, shelter, and other urgent needs.

The First Baptist church was organized in 1833 by William Cate and T. J. Pointdexter who were at the time, members of Muddy Creek Baptist Church. It began as a mission effort of the Tennessee Baptist Convention. For the first ten years, meetings were apparently held in different locations . One site appears to have been in a two room log school building and another was a store building near where the first church was erected.

In 1841 Elder William Cate was appointed as missionary to Upper East Tennessee. One writer speaking of William Cate said, "No man ever stirred up so much interest or aroused such fierce opposition as did William Cate."

First Church 1843-1912
In June of 1843 land was acquired from Laurence Snapp of Blountville and the first building of the church was erected across from the present Blountville Glass Company. Mr. Snapp gave the land with the stipulation that the land revert to his estate if it ever came to be used for anything but a house of worship. The deed stated in Laurence Snapp's words that the land was given to "James Poindexter, Hardin Hooper, and John C. Rutledge, Trustees for Blountville Baptist Church and the successors in office for the good feeling I entertain for the good that Religious institutions have had and may have upon the Community."

Noah Cate, older brother of William, came from Middle Tennessee where he was a missionary to serve as the first pastor. The first frame church building was erected during his pastorate. In 1851 Pastor Cate made a motion that the association become involved in foreign missions. This seems to be the first time that foreign missions was advocated by formal motion by an East Tennessee Baptist pastor.

In 1848, the Laurence Snapp family sold the land on which the first parsonage was built. Today, it is still standing and is known as the Marsh House. It is one of the historic houses within the bounds of the Blountville Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

During the Civil War in 1863, the early records of the church were destroyed when an artillery shell set fire to the Blountville Court House. John Rutledge who was the Sullivan County Court Clerk was also Church Clerk and kept the records in his office. The records which were lost in the fire were later written from memory by Joel D. Millard.

Block Church 1812-1955 In 1912 with the help of money left by a former church clerk, Mr. Noah J. Phillips, grandfather of Mrs. Ella Kate Holt, a new church was erected at our present site. In the same year, T.L. Cate was called as pastor with a salary of $12.50 per month. In 1910 the two story frame building at right was erected to serve as the home for pastors and their families. Later two additions were made on the church for Sunday School rooms and part of the two-story pastorium was also used for class rooms. During this time the church grew in spirit and number.

Block Church 1812-1955

This plate with a picture of the block church above was painted by Ethel Kate Phillips as a fund raising drive for the church. She was an aunt of Ella Kate Phillips Holt.

Educational Building On Sunday, May 1, 1955 a special ground breaking ceremony was held for the Educational Building following the Worship Service. The cost of the building was $30,000 with much of the work was done by church members. On December 4, 1955 the first services were held and in August 1964, notes on the building and adjacent property were burned.

Following the construction of the Educational Building, the church again experienced growth in church membership. This building has served several generations as a place for worship, education and fellowship.

Sanctuary By 1966 the membership had grown to the point that a new sanctuary was needed. Sunday morning July 31 was homecoming day and Ground-Breaking services were held for the new sanctuary and addition to the Educational Building. Construction was started in August and the first services were held on December 25, 1966. The sanctuary cost $150,000. On June 25, 1967 the new Sanctuary was dedicated. Since 1967 the sanctuary has provided space for many worship services and special events in the life of the church family.

In 1973 the church build a new pastorium in Carr Estates which was occupied in September.

In January 1982 a note burning ceremony was held signifying the repayment of the loan for the construction of the new sanctuary. Later in the same year, another note burning was held after payment was completed on a loan used for general improvement to the physical church plant.

Stained Glass

In 1987 a stained glass window was given to the church by Willie Barker and place behind the baptistry in memory of her husband, Sidney Barker.

Church Bell's Home

In 1990 Evelyn Wagner and Louise Pack donated funds for the construction of a new sign in front of the church. This sign incorporates a home for the church bell which had been used since the organization of our church.

Family Life Center In April of 1991, First Baptist Church broke ground for the construction of a new Family Life Center. Located behind the 1955 Educational Building, this facility houses a nursery and pre-school area, nine additional classrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, office, stage and full basketball and volleyball courts. This facility was dedicated on May 31, 1992 and was built as a cost of approximately, $800,000. On Sunday May 5, 2002, a note burning ceremony was held in the Family Life Center signifying the repayment of the loan.

In 1998, February 4, a new Constitution/By-Laws was adopted. It was a completely new document in which the church studied for over a year. It contains the Vision, Mission and Goal of the church, nine Statements of Faith, a Membersí Covenant, and six Ministry Councils consisting of thirty-five teams. See our Vision, Mission and Goal Statment.

In May 20, 2007 First Baptist Church dedicated Fellowship Park. This marked a two year volunteer effort to complete this first phase of the park development. Fellowship Park now consists of a Chapel, The Steele Pavilion, and a historic log Church and walking trail.

Replica Chapel

This Chapel which seats approximately 55 people is a replica of our original building. It is being used for a weekly Youth Service, weddings, conferences and special services. The pews were given by church members in memory of family and loved ones. Mrs. June Tolliver donated a pump organ in memory of her parents.

Steele Pavilion The Steele Pavilion was dedicated in memory of John Steele. John was a faithful member, deacon, and servant of Christ. The plaque reads: In Memory of John H. Steele Faithful member and servant, First Baptist Church, Blountville, Tennessee The Pavilion features a large stone fireplace, bathrooms, kitchen and storage area. Already it has been used for many church and family functions.

Log ChurchThe historic log structure from the late 1700s was built in an area possibly known as Sapling Grove in Johnson County, Mountain City, Tn. In the late 1950's it was moved to Elizabethton where it was part of a tourist attraction which included a house that belonged to Andrew Johnson (seventeenth president of the United States). The church was purchased and donated to First Baptist by JoAnn Steele in memory of her husband, John H. Steele. It was relocated to Fellowship Park after spending a year in her barn. JoAnn has been the driving force of "re- creating" this historic church. In features antique handmade pews and handmade furniture from the Steele family. The doors were made from wood removed from their barn which over a hundred years old. The floors came from trees cut and sawed on their farm by her husband. Most of the hardware is original and made by a blacksmith.

The Walking Path is approximately one half mile concrete track following the outline of the park. It including a walk along a creek and behind some of the most historic buildings in Blountville.

Sanctuary-Out-2015On Easter Sunday 2015, the congregation of First Baptist Church of Blountville moved back into the Sanctuary building. The groundbreaking day had been the last Sunday of 2013. During that absence, the church used the Family Life Center as a worship-Bible Study-Fellowship Hall-Recreation-Awana facility. For those fifteen months, the word multi-use was given new meaning to us. The renovation/expansion project, however, began much earlier.

In the Spring of 2009, the church appointed a Sanctuary Study Committee. The committee began countless hours of trying to determine what the best stewardship of God's resources for the next generations of those who would call First Baptist Church of Blountville their church home. As with all planning processes, the building was built and rebuilt many times on paper and in the minds of the committee. The church contracted with Goins, Rash, and Cain of Kingsport to help us with the design phase of the process. Hiram Rash and Sophia Davidson came and spend many evenings with the committee trying to resolve the many challenges that faced us trying to bring a nearly fifty year old building up to current code standards.

The building team consisted of John Mize, chairman, Joe Davenport, Scott Hammitt, Sid Lester, Louise Pack, Pete Perry, Edna Quillen, JoAnn Steele, and Robyn Wingate. Their dedication to the task resulted in a dramatic change in the appearance and use possibilities of our facility.


Among the features of the project was a new nursery/toddler area with a children's check-in area. A new Library and classrooms along with an elevator were added to make the all areas of the buildings accessible to everyone.


The Sanctuary was completely redone with great improvements to the balcony, sound, heat and air efficiency, and seating.


A welcome center was added along with a new vestibule. Thanks to the work of a local artist, Donald Hilton, and two of our members, Charles Hubbard and Sid Lester, an eagle sculpture and scripture of Isaiah 40:31 is now the focal piece of the welcome center.

On Sunday April 26, 2015, the rededication day was help with a large and enthusiastic congregation present for the morning service at 9:30 am and the rededication service at 1:00 pm. Our prayer is that this facility will bless and encourage future generations as a meeting place for the body of Christ. Our mission however is not contained in the building. Our mission remains as always to "glorify God by providing an environment in which Christians are disciple to discover and exercise their spiritual gifts as they participate in true worship, biblical instruction, godly fellowship and effective evangelism."

Dates of Interest

  • 1870 - The annual Baptist Association met with Blountville Baptist.
  • 1880 - John B. Cole was licensed to preach the gospel by the church.
  • 1882 - December 17, John B. Cole was ordained into the ministry.
  • 1900 - December 18, a revival began which continued through December 31.
  • 1902 - Sunday, February 15, offering taken was $2.85.
  • 1906 or 1907 - The Church bought the first musical instrument, a pump-organ.
  • 1910 - A two story frame building was erected as the home for pastors and their families. This building was later used for classrooms in Sunday School.
  • 1912 - On the third Sunday in March, a short business session was held after the 11:00 am service and Brother T. L. Cate of Holston Valley was unanimously called to the Pastoral Care of the Church at a salary of $12.50 per month.
  • 1915 - June 20, by request of one family, the Lordís Supper was administered in their home because they were aged and shut in.
  • 1918 - July 20, the W.M.U. was organized with Minnie Millsap as president.
  • 1918 - Minutes record that there were no services from August until February 1919 because of the Spanish Influenza.
  • 1924 - Mrs S. R. McDowell (mother of Mrs. J. R. LeSueur) was the first woman to serve as Sunday School Superintendent.
  • 1941 - W.M.U. was reorganized with Mrs. Helen Millard Rutherford as president.
  • 1952 - In the summer a new pastorium was erected on Franklin Drive.
  • 1952 - September, the pastorium was dedicated and a Brotherhood was organized. Haynes Hardin, president; Wiley Millard, 1st vice president; J.R. LeSueur, program chairman.
  • 1953 - The name of the church was changed from Blountville Baptist Church to First Baptist Church of Blountville, Tennessee.
  • 1956 - The constitution and by-laws were destroyed during the Civil War in 1863. A committee presented a new constitution, and it was adopted July 4, 1956.
  • 1959 - December 27, James A. Hardin was licensed to preach the gospel by the church. Mr. Hiram Lane acted as moderator.
  • 1960 - In August property of the sanctuary was purchased from Joe McKenzie for $5,250.
  • 1966 - Pulpit furniture was placed in the new Sanctuary in memory of Miss Linda Kay Holt.
  • 1963 - On Sunday afternoon August 4, James A. Hardin was ordained into the ministry by Rev. Jesse Clay and Rev. Freeman Wright.
  • 1989 - Evelyn Wagner gave pew padding to the church in memory of her mother, Mrs. Martha Knight.
  • 1992 - May, First Baptist purchased the home of the late Leland and Ella Kate Holt. A playground was placed on the back half toward Franklin Drive.
  • 1993 - June, Evelyn Wagner gave pew Bibles to the church in memory of her husband, Clyde Wagner.
  • 1999 - February 14, Harold Horne was elected as Associate Minister at First Baptist.
  • 1999 - March 26, Louise Pack donated funds to purchase the property adjacent to the former Holt property and by August 1 this lot and the remaining Holt property had been converted into a parking area.
  • 2002 - April 23, final payment was made on construction loan for Family Life Center. Sunday, May 5, 2002, a note burning ceremony was held in the Family Life Center signifying the repayment of the loan.
  • 2004 - Jan 22, FBC purchased the corner lot adjacent to old Garland Worley Property from Garth Blackburn for $25,000.
  • 2002 - August 10, FBC purchased two tracts from the Wilson Estate, 2.32 acres, for $80,000 for the purpose of developing a Fellowship Park.
  • 2002 - November 26, FBC purchased 1 lot, 0.76 acres, from Mr. Manning for $53,000. This lot joins the property that was purchased on August 10, 2002.
  • 2005, December 9, FBC sold the pastorium in Carr Estates for $147,000.
  • 2005 - July 18-23. This week was declared Mission Week for the purpose of beginning development of Fellowship Park.
  • 2007 - May 20, First Baptist Church dedicated Fellowship Park. This marked a two year volunteer effort to complete this first phase of the park development.
  • 2015 - April 26, FBC rededication day of Sanctuary, new classrooms, imporvements, library, and nursery/toddler area, which began in Jan. 2014 at a cost of $2.038,000.

Back to top         Home