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The First Baptist Church of Anderson is one of the oldest churches in Southwest Missouri. It was founded on the first day of July, 1848, by a man named Henry Miller, a Baptist from North Carolina who settled on Elk River in 1847 in what is now McDonald County.

Brother Miller, an active Christian, went to work to secure a church organization. In 1848, the original organization was effected in Mr. Miller's dwelling, and he was assisted by three ministers from nearby areas; Abraham May and TJ. Hollman, who lived on Lost Creek in Newton County, and William Toliver, who lived near Rocky Comfort. The Church continued to meet in Brother Miller's home until 1851 when the county became more settled. At that time a meeting was held at Beaver Springs every other month.

Hezekiah Dobbs and his wife moved from Tennessee to Missouri and joined the Church by letter and soon thereafter Brother Dobbs was ordained to the work of the gospel ministry. He technically became the third pastor of the Church behind Hollman and May. At the time he was pastor, Brother Dobbs was the only minister living in McDonald County. While some meetings were still conducted in the homes of different members, the Church moved permanently to its location at Beaver Springs in 1854.

The founders of the Church were primarily people who came from the hill country of the Carolinas, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Coleman Chapman and his wife and son William joined the Church by letter from Tennessee in 1857. Coleman Chapman later followed Hezekiah Dobbs as pastor and served in that capacity for fourteen years. Later, his son William also served as pastor of the Church.

The first trustees of the Church were C.W. Chapman, James W. Tatum, and James F. Dunnigan. The first communion was held in July, 1853. The first Sunday School was organized in the 1860's.

The first meeting house was built of round logs 16 feet long and covered with clapboards 4 feet long. It had no windows, but it did have one door, a floor made out of large logs hewed flat on one side, and a fireplace with a wooden chimney. This building was replaced in 1857 by a church house that had logs that were 24 feet long and was heated by a large fireplace filled with dirt located in the center of the building.  Charcoal was placed in the fireplace and burned as needed.

The Church grew as the area grew in population and prospered to some degree until the Civil War. At that time the meetings became scattered and the records were scanty. In April, 1867, a regular report of meetings and membership occurred again. It was also at this time that the Church was reformed, and Coleman Chapman gave the first sermon after the Civil War.

The Church having increased its membership, found a third structure was necessary. This time a very neat frame house, 26 feet by 36 feet, was built and was thought to be large enough for all time. This proved to be false and in 1899 the house was enlarged to become a structure that was well-heated and lighted. This building was in the shape of a "T" and on the ground that is now a part of the Anderson Cemetery. Its exact location can be determined utilizing the resting place of Luther and Marietta Higgs as the exact spot where the altar before which they were married stood many years earlier and utilizing the various dates on nearby tombstones.

A general store and post office named Anderson was started in 1887, and the first settlement in the, area

was at Beaver Springs. By 1900 the membership of the Church had increased to 150. In 1911, construction of a red brick building with a bell tower and stained glass windows began on Beaver Street and was completed in 1912. A revival took place the same year that aw 144 people added to the Church. A Church Directory published in 1914 included 439 names. An addition comprising mostly of classrooms increased the size of the Beaver Street structure which was completed in 1956.

In 1979 the Church purchased property across from the High School that has now become its current location. A ground breaking ceremony at this location took place on August 1, 1993, with the first service taking place on June 5, 1994 and the Dedication being held on Sunday, June 12, 1994. Both the bell and the stained glass windows from the Beaver Street location were brought and used at this new sight.


Over the years First Baptist Church of Anderson has celebrated several important milestones in its history. On September 25, 1927, four hundred people attended a "Homecoming Day" which featured special music from the High School Girls Glee Club and which saw a very high tide of spiritual power in the afternoon service. There were 511 members on the rolls when the Church celebrated its Centennial in 1948.  The 105th Anniversary of the Church was held on Wednesday, July 25,1953 and featured a special ceremony to bum the mortgage on the parsonage. The 125th Anniversary was held on July 1, 1973, when Rev. Randall Reeves was the pastor, and the 135th Anniversary was held on July 17, 1983, just six weeks after Rev. James Lemons came to serve as pastor. Both celebrations included three services and the preaching of both current and former pastors.


As of 2022 First Baptist Church is 174 years strong serving the Lord.  While the Church cherishes God's faithfulness and blessing over the past 174 years, it also celebrates the potential God has given to meet the spiritual needs of the future.

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