Historical Highlights



In 1895, a group of Christian brothers and sisters banded together in a little wooden structure and organized the First Baptist Church, Reynoldstown. Rev. Rufus Savage was the pastor. Rev. Lonnie Jones led the church from the wooden structure on Baptist Avenue (now called Renfroe St.) to the basement on Kenyon Street, Reynoldstown. In 1917, under the leadership of Rev. C. C. Holt, the church moved from the basement.

During the subsequent years, the church continued under the leadership of Rev. Louis Foster, Rev. A. L. Collins and Rev. George. In the 40's, the church was clear of all its indebtedness under the leadership of the late Rev. J. S. Dixon, who was followed by Rev. Henderson. After being ordained as a minister, Rev. F. L. Taylor, a member of First Baptist Church, was elected by the membership to serve as pastor. He served until his death. Rev. Billups followed Rev. Taylor and was called to serve for a short period of time, after which Rev. R. W. Freeman was called to pastor by the membership. After becoming too ill to serve, the membership prayed for God to send them another pastor.

On April 11, 1969, the Lord answered our prayers by sending a "great" preacher in the person of Rev. E. J. Jester, Sr., whose leadership is evidenced by his influence in helping to bring lost souls to Christ and numerous other accomplishments for the church and the community. In November of 1973, under the capable leadership of Pastor Jester, the church moved to its present structure at 2394 Gresham Rd., SE, Atlanta, Georgia 30316. In 1983, the church body decided to erect a new cornerstone. In 1999, the church was incorporated and granted tax exempt status, 501(c)3, under the present name of First Baptist Church­Gresham Road, Inc. As a stepping stone to creating a platform for learning, the First Baptist Board of Christian Education was instrumental in naming the former scout hut the E. J. Jester, Sr. Christian Education Center. In addition to the educfJ.tion center, the campus now consists of a sanctuary, a fellowship hall, a nurs­ery, classrooms, administrative offices, a library, a commercial kitchen, a playground, and a community chapel. During the 112'h celebration, First Baptist dedicated the original bell as a part of our church history.

Following the retirement of Pastor E. J. Jester in 2007, Rev. Russell Odom was elected pastor in February 2008. By mutual consent with the church, Rev. Odom terminated his tenure in July 2008.

In 2008, during the 114th year of our church, God led Rev. Norman H. Thomas, Jr. to First Baptist Church, and he was elected by the members to serve as their pastor. On Sunday, January 11, 2009, Rev. Thomas and the First Baptist Church family embarked on their union between pastor and church. He was installed on Sunday, March 8, 2009. Under his leadership, renovations have been made and a community center, located on Second Avenue was purchased; the church membership has grown; children and teen churches have been organized to render ministry on :z1d - 4th Sundays; various ministries have been revitalized and additional classes are offered during the Sunday School hour which include the following classes: New Members' Orientation, ''Alpha and Omega Men" and "Women of the Word." Additionally, outreach to the community has expanded and, acting on the vision of the late Rev. E.J. Jester, the parking lot was finally paved. We are thankful for Pastor Thomas, the Angel God has placed in this house to continue to build on the foundation laid by God-fearing men and women. We have faith that God will continue to bless Pastor Thomas with the strength and wisdom to lead and serve His people.

The membership continues to increase at First Baptist. To date, 75 members have joined during the year. On January 29, 2017, one Minister and seven Deacons were ordained: Rev. Sandy Strozier, Dea. Andreas Hardy, Dea. Derron Hardy, Dea. Jimmy McMillan, Dea. Clarence Rodgers, Dea. Jeremy Williams, Dea. Terrance Williams, and Dea. Maurice Zellner. On May 28, 2017, Minister Janice Ray was ordained. The Alpha & Omega Men's Ministry developed a Mentor/Mentee mentoring program for the youth males of the church that is being led by Bro. Cory White.