On Wednesday night, October 28, 1914, thirty-three residents of Fountain City met in the Bright Hope Masonic Hall to establish Bright Hope Baptist Church. Rev. W. W. Mullendore—one of the Charter members—agreed to serve as interim pastor until a permanent pastor could be called. The church called Reverend J. L. Edington in March 1915.
The church changed its name to Central Baptist Church of Fountain City in July of 1915. During the same month, it purchased a lot for a building. The first service was held in that building on October 3, 1915. Rev. Albert F. Mahan later came to Central Baptist and served as pastor from 1916-1921.
By 1922, a larger sanctuary was necessary. In a sunrise ceremony on May 28,1923, ground was broken, and on August 19, 1923, the cornerstone was laid for the second building. The first service was held on August 13, 1924. Rev. J. C. Shipe was pastor at that time, serving from 1921-1925. Rev. Leland W. Smith (1925-1933) began his ministry at Central in July 1925. The church increased to approximately 300 members during his pastorate. Rev. Mahan was unanimously recalled as pastor in 1932, and served Central Baptist for seventeen years.
Continued Growth & A New Direction
Rev. Charles S. Bond became pastor of Central Baptist on August 5, 1945. A few years later, ground was broken on a new sanctuary. Previous buildings had faced Broadway; this one would face Lynnwood Avenue. The cornerstone was dedicated on August 21, 1949.
During its first 50 years, the membership of Central Baptist Church grew from 33 to more than 2,100. In May 1970, planning and training in the city churches began for the Billy Graham Crusade in the Neyland Stadium May 22-31. Our church served in all phases of the Crusade—planning, prayer, and participation.
Dr. Bond announced his retirement in January 1975. In October of that same year, the church called Dr. Calvin S. Metcalf.
Body • Spirit • Mind • Soul
As both membership and opportunities for ministry increased, the church voted to build the Family Life Center (FLC) that today serves as the site of our Catalyst service. First opened in 1984 to support mind, body, spirit, the FLC serves a number of people and purposes, including a Red Cross Shelter in times of emergencies.
1985 began with a great deal of excitement as the church called Ron Mouser as Minister of Education. Over the next 25 years, Ron took on the additional roles of Coordinator of Ministries and Associate Pastor. Ron retired in July 2011, leaving a powerful and lasting mark on our church’s commitment to Sunday School, covenant relationships and discipleship.
For many years (1988–2009) Rev. Kal Busman was a staple of the FLC. Kal first came to us as a Minister to Youth. During his tenure, he helped to develop many of the programs and services that continue here today, including L.I.F.E. and Catalyst.
In the years following Dr. Metcalf’s retirement, Central Baptist has been blessed by the leadership of pastors including Dr. Marvin Cameron, Dr. Walter Crouch, and Dr. David Crocker.
On August 21, 2011 Central Baptist began a new era! We are fortunate to have Dr. Mike Smith as Senior Pastor and Reverend Jeff Cockerham as Associate Pastor. We look forward to worship and ministry under their leadership.