Located in the heart of downtown Durham, First Baptist Church was established in 1845 and is the oldest church in Durham. It was originally called the Rose of Sharon Baptist Church before changing its name to Durham Baptist Church in 1877 and then to First Baptist Church of Durham in 1878.
Like many Southern Baptist congregations, especially older urban churches, FBC Durham went through its own version of the “conservative resurgence” in recent years. Between the 1960s and the 1990s, the church was served by some pastors who identified with conservatives in the SBC and by other pastors who identified with the moderates in the Convention. The same division was evident among the church’s deacons, WMU officers, staff members and other key leaders. In 1990, Allan Moseley became the pastor of FBC Durham and helped to prevent the church from affiliating with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Moseley left in 1996 to become the dean of students and an Old Testament professor at Southeastern Seminary.
In 1998, after a prolonged interim pastorate by SEBTS preaching professor Wayne McDill, Andrew Davis became the new senior pastor of FBC Durham. The church endured a period of significant turmoil between 1999 and 2003, as the theological and doctrinal debates continued. During this time, the church developed stronger ties with Southeastern Seminary, which is located about a half-hour from the church’s building. The church also developed ties with Southern Seminary, where Davis earned a PhD in church history. By 2003, the church had become definitively, intentionally, conservative in its doctrine. In 2008, the membership approved a change in the church’s polity from a committee-driven congregationalism to a plurality of elders led congregationalism.
There are many aspects of FBCD’s history that we can rejoice in. Sadly, our history is also marked by a failure to love our black neighbors. We fall on God’s mercy for forgiveness and pray that we now faithfully pursue racial reconciliation through the blood of Christ. We fully endorse the Resolution on Racial Reconciliation on the 150th Anniversary of the Southern Baptist Convention (1995) that confesses our sin in this area, and we pray that God will continue to flood our congregation with men and women from many cultures and colors.
In the past decade, the church has renewed its commitment to evangelism and missions. The church has always had a track record of emphasizing global missions. Over the years, dozens of members have served as overseas missionaries, including at least two pastors. We currently have five families and two single women serving with the International Mission Board. Another couple serves with Wycliffe Bible Translators. Numerous members have served as Journeymen with IMB in recent years. In terms of North American missions, we have sent church planters to southern Durham (www.soduchurch.org) and Boston (www.mosiacboston.com), as well as a NAMB-sponsored church revitalizer to Worcester, MA. FBCD has planted several churches in and around Durham, most recently South Durham Church. The church has also been committed to short-term overseas mission trips since the 1970s.
God has blessed FBC Durham in numerous ways. We’re grateful for almost 170 years of gospel ministry. We pray for even greater faithfulness and fruitfulness in the years to come.