This is the second in a series of articles highlighting Dawson County churches and their history.
The First Baptist Church of Dawsonville has been a part of Dawson County’s history for over 150 years.
The church was established in 1854. In the last 10 years, the congregation went from 42 active members to 1,000.
“We are one of the oldest churches in Dawson County,” said Jim Gaines, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dawsonville. “We started as a small local church that has now grown into more of a regional church.”
Gaines believes it is the church’s dedication to service and preaching the Bible that attracts so many people.
“We take scripture and apply it to everyday living. We take what we learn from scripture and act on it. We are committed to being a holistic church by serving this community through reaching out to every facet of a person’s life; a person’s spiritual, mental, physical and emotional needs,” explained Gaines.
During First Baptist Church of Dawsonville’s long history, over 25 pastors have led the congregation. But the earliest church records were destroyed in a fire in 1928. Grover Taylor, the church clerk at the time, recreated the church’s articles of faith, which lasted until 1985, when a conference ratified the church’s constitution and bylaws.
“Through all the years and all the changes, it is the people that keep this church alive. The longtime Dawson County members are the foundational people who open the door to our church and welcome new members in,” said Gaines, who has served as pastor for over 10 years.
For the first decades, First Baptist Church of Dawsonville gathered in a one-room building for all services, meetings and activities. In 1939, after almost 90 years of meeting in the same place, efforts to construct a new facility began. In 1943, the new church facility was completed. That building was further renovated in 1955, 1968 and 1988. In 1998, the church expanded its worship and ministry facility in order to better meet the needs of the growing and changing county.
“We are committed to a strong and convergent worship style. We want to take the traditional styles of worship and blend them together with the contemporary styles of worship to create something new,” said Gaines.
In 1999, the church purchased nine acres of land, less than two miles north of the downtown facility. An additional three acres was purchased in 2001 for a total of 12 acres.
After three years, a groundbreaking ceremony for the new facility was held on July 8, 2001. The construction was completed in 2002. The new facility has a 750-seat worship center, a fellowship hall, ample classroom space and an office suite.
“We changed from a 1950s type of ministry to a new millennium type of ministry. This building can accommodate all the outreach programs we now offer the community,” said Gaines.
First Baptist Church of Dawsonville posts online sermons on its Web site, offers youth programs, educational programs, music programs and is scheduled to open a daycare program in the spring.
“We will start with a daycare in hopes of growing it into a Christian school, adding one grade per year,” said Gaines.
In addition to Gaines, First Baptist Church of Dawsonville features eight staff members to carry out the various ministries, including a worship leader, Stan Lovell, a minister of education, Max Braddock, a student minister, Steve Harmon, a preschool director, Wendy Earnest, and an active support staff.
“We are a very warm, open and friendly church. No matter what kind of background a person comes from they are sure to feel welcome,” said Gaines.
The First Baptist Church of Dawsonville is located at 900 Hwy. 9 North, Dawsonville.
To find out more information, call (706) 265-2612 or visit, www.firstbaptistdawsonville.com.