Breaking ground for new church: Mrs. J.R. Wales,Mres. NannieLanders,Pastor J.C. Robinson
Breaking ground for new church: Mrs. J.R. Wales,Mres. NannieLanders,Pastor J.C. Robinson
First Baptist Canton will celebrate their 175th anniversary this weekend with fellowship, a worship service and lunch that will meditate on the church’s long history.

“We have a deep desire to celebrate what the Lord has done for our congregation, but with a ‘the best is yet to come’ attitude,” Pastor Guy Odom said. “We hope this weekend is just the beginning of 175 more years in his service.”

The theme of the weekend is “Building the Future.”

Odom said that in the past 30 or 40 years the church has been blessed with growth, both of the congregation, which now numbers roughly 342 members, and the physical building, which has continued to grow, despite a fire in the mid-1990’s. 

Odom said he had been with the church six-and-a-half months and looks forward celebrating the congregation’s long legacy this weekend.

B.J. Barnes, a longtime member and co-chair of the 175-year celebration committee, said she has found a rough history of the church.

The church started in November 1843 by Reverend John W. Buie with a congregation of five men and nine women, with Reverend Burrell Barnes coming on shortly after as the church’s first full-time pastor.

In 1918, the church would build the brick building that still stands today. It was the first brick church in Canton, Barnes said.

Barnes said her family has a long history with the church.

“I can’t prove it, it’s just a family story but they say my grandmother was the first child baptized in the new building. Needless to say, it is an important place to my family,” Barnes said.

The modern church building would start to take shape as they added the elementary building in 1951, the education building in 1960 and the family life center in the 1980s.

The final piece of the modern church’s silhouette was completed when the elementary building caught fire and was rebuilt as the current children’s building in 1996.

Bill Fox can trace his family’s involvement in the church back to his grandparents, James Hester Fox and Ethel Cole, who moved to Canton in 1920, just two years after the new building was built, to start a wholesale distribution business. Now, four generations later, his grandchildren attend the church.

“This is the church I grew up in, accepted Christ in when I was 12, got married in and the church that has hosted the funeral services for my parents. We buried my mother just last week, and my uncle,” Fox said. “My children grew up in Madison and we went to church there and they were fine, but I have never felt an emotional connection like I do to First Baptist Canton.”

Fox, his wife Shelley, and his two daughters Megan Fox Voyer and Molly Fox Ramsay, are all members of the choir. They all do their part on committees and his daughters are in active rotation in the nursery.

He said he looks forward to seeing his three grandchildren, soon to be four, grow up in the church that has been a part of his family since well before World War II.

“From 1920 to today my family has gone to this church and we have built so many meaningful relationships and just seen what God can do in this congregation and this community,” Fox said.

The planning committee expects at least 225 people this weekend for the 10 a.m. service. The service will be preceded by a 9 a.m. fellowship time and followed by lunch in the family life center after the service.

“This weekend we want to welcome all members, former members, friends, family and members of our community to worship with us,” Odom said.