Church History



“Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God”. It was upon the rock of this faith that our Lord and Master established His Church. Many organizations have been created in the history of man; but none was to be as prevailing or as lasting as the Church of Jesus Christ. We have the Word of Jesus for this established fact – “Upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.”

God knew that freedom from chattel slavery was not enough, not only must my people be free; they must worship and serve me. The First African Baptist Church was established in the Village of Mitchelville. In early April of 1862, a military order was issued freeing blacks in the Sea Islands. On August 17, 1862, the First African Baptist Church was established and Rev. Abraham Murchinson was ordained as its First Pastor. There were about 120 members that made up that first congregation, all of whom were considered “contrabands. On September 17 1862, General Omsby Mitchel was commissioned as “Commander of the South” with Headquarters on Hilton Head Island. He permitted the newly freed slaves to build their own houses, Churches, Schools and shops in the town of Mitchelville. By March of 1863, the town had been built and named for General Mitchel. By 1865, the town of Mitchelville had grown to “about 1500 souls. The Church moved from Mitchelville to the Chaplin Community and took the name “Goodwill Baptist Church.” Some years later the Church moved to the Cross Roads section of the Island as the “Cross Roads Baptist Church”, its present location. During the course of time, it took its original name as the “First African Baptist Church.” This Church was to grow and prosper; leading to the establishing of five other Baptist Churches.

The salvation of mankind is to be found only in the Church of Jesus Christ. There is no salvation, peace or contentment to be found in any other place, since Christ is the head of the Church. First African is continuing to hold high the bloodstained banner of a suffering and conquering Lord.

There is no greater compliment paid any group of people anywhere, than for a company of God’s Children to assemble themselves together, knowing that God will be in the midst of them. The New Testament Church of Jesus Christ is almost 2,000 years old and First African Baptist can proudly and humbly claim 150 of those years as an active and vibrant congregation. On October 30, 1988, a cornerstone was laid marking the Church’s 125th years of service to the community.

We celebrated our 150th Anniversary, this Church of God Marches on under the leadership of Rev. Dr. Alvin L. Petty. We have been blessed in years passed, so we move on with the assurance that God will continue to bless us in the years to come. As we press on, with Christ as our head, we as members pledge to continue our efforts to advance the Kingdom of our Savior and pointing others to the way from earth to glory.