First Baptist Church, 349 W. Broadway, Harrodsburg, has been around since 1840, according to a church history compiled when the church celebrated its 125th anniversary.
The church was first named African Baptist Church after it was organized by the white Baptists in the South District. The new congregation worshipped in a small brick building on the site where the current church stands.
The Rev. Charles Clark, one of the first to lead the church, was pastor of the church when the name was changed to Centennial Baptist Church.
In 1887, a portion of the congregation left to follow the Rev. Charles Davis and organized a new Centennial Baptist. After Davis left, pastors were the Revs. Underwood, H.C. Mitchell, George Mitchell, George Moore and George Miller.
In 1915, when the Rev. John N. Smothers was pastor, a new Sunday School annex was built. C.C. Ellis became pastor in 1935, and was followed by Amos R. Lasley when the church liquidated its debts and established a savings account.
Between 1944 and 1951, the church grew physically, financially and spiritually under the pastorates of L.H. Woolfolk, W.H. Spotts and E.E. Fields. The Rev. G. H. Childs Sr. accepted the pastorate of the church in 1951. Improvements and innovations were made under Child’s leadership, including the purchase of a Hammond organ. Several new members were added to the congregation.
The Rev. J.C. Middlebrooks was pastor for a brief period. The Rev. Jesse J. Smith became pastor in 1960. During his tenure, the church and annex were redecorated, new gas furnaces were installed, and a new piano was placed in the sanctuary.
Working until his death in 1972, Smith brought the church to statewide prominence among Kentucky Baptists.
The Rev. M.L. Trabue became pastor after Smith. The church grew and a new three-bedroom parsonage was built. The indebtedness was liquidated within a year.
A few years later, the Rev. Dr. J.B. Porterfield became pastor and established a church library and telephone service.
Since then, central air, a new dining room, kitchen lounge area, and restrooms were added to the church annex. The pulpit and choir stands have been renovated and a baptistry installed.
Besides the improvements, the church has added to its membership and has had eight men in the congregation to go into the ministry.
Among those who have been licensed and ordained are George Childs, Virgil Tucker, Charles Smith Sr., Albert Hayes, Windrell Hunn Jr., and Phillip Yates. Dennis Mays and Kimble Jones also have been licensed to preach.
The Rev. Virgil Hill, current pastor, has been the minister of the church for several years.