The Baptist are celebrating 170 years.

Sunday, the First Baptist Church of Milton celebrates 170 years in Milton with a catered lunch, music, skits about the church’s first members, video interviews with current members, and more. Senior Pastor Dr. David Spencer reviewed church history he included in a 198-page book of the Baptists coming to Milton titled From the Blackwater to the Uttermost Parts of the Earth.

According to Spencer, who has been at FBC of Milton for 20 years, the church began in 1845, before there was a Florida Baptist Convention and even before there was a State of Florida. He said the Baptists’ first arrival in Milton was part of a missionary trip.

First Baptist began in the Saint Mary’s Episcopal Church building, Spencer said, before moving to its current location at Highway 90 and Canal Street. “The main road was Canal,” he said, and the FBC moved to its current location in 1911. Ten years later, he said, with the Marquis Bayou Bridge built, Caroline became the main road. Spencer said the entrance to the church originally faced Canal but in 1938 church leaders jacked up the building and rotated it 90 degrees, and before setting it down, they  built a basement for children’s ministry.

The 1938 building, Spencer said, church leaders replaced in 1954, which is now the Bamburg Chapel. In 2003, the church finished the current sanctuary. Today, First Baptist has multiple buildings  and the sanctuary, Spencer said, is designed to withstand a hurricane.

Church membership has deep roots, according to Spencer, with some current members related to the very first pastor, Jesse Flowers, from 1845. The book, Spencer said, also includes information on the first lay leaders, Athal Seaboorn Cobb and Jeremiah Sevall. These two men, he said, took a trip to Conecuh County, Alabama and asked to join the Southern Baptist Convention. The book also includes chapters on early Milton history, music history, and the auxiliary missions like the food pantry and the PregnancyResourceCenter.

During Sunday’s celebration, members will hear some touching and funny memories of First Baptist. Spencer shared some of his own.

Spencer recalled 20 years ago when the church’s pastor search committee contacted him. He said he’d already spent 16 years at the First Baptist Church of Long Beach, MS. Spencer said the church he came from had brand new buildings and what he saw at the time in Milton was old with grown-up grass. However, “Once I was inside, I was impressed with the warmth and friendliness of the people.”

The funniest memory for Spencer was “a wedding that went haywire. It was crazy, outlandish.” He said one guest insisted on bringing his dog into the sanctuary and it wasn’t a service dog. He said he had an argument with the groom about wearing a cowboy hat inside, and finally, when the bride and groom kissed, a boy on the front row called out, “Ew!”

According to Spencer, 170 copies of From the Blackwater to the Uttermost Parts of the Earth have been pre ordered already, but more copies will be available for purchase Sunday for $20. The title, he said, relates to the missionary nature of First Baptist Church. Today, he said, they have reached into remote areas of the world such as Bangladesh and Zimbabwe to name a few.