First Baptist Church was established in July of 1838 as the third church in Jacksonville. In 1892, the church settled at its present location between Hogan and Church Streets in the heart of the downtown district. The Great Jacksonville Fire of 1901 totally destroyed the church building, but in February of 1903 the cornerstone was laid for a new building. Within one year, the new Hobson Auditorium was completed. The building served as the church's primary worship center until 1976.
In 1940, Dr. Homer G. Lindsay, Sr. became the church’s twentieth pastor. At that time, the church was in serious financial debt. Morale was low. With contributions dwindling, the loss of a seven-story educational building, a debt of $125,000, and no facilities for growth, the situation looked bleak.
However, under the leadership of this young and dedicated minister of the Gospel, a new era began. The church experienced tremendous spiritual, physical and numerical growth. By 1943, the church was free from its financial bondage. In 1948, the first new educational building was constructed debt free.
Another major turning point for First Baptist came in 1969 when the Pastor's son, Dr. Homer G. Lindsay, Jr. was called to the church as Co-Pastor. He served alongside his father until Dr. Lindsay Sr.'s retirement in 1975. From 1969 to 1988, Sunday School enrollment skyrocketed from 2,385 to 14,172. Nine buildings were either purchased or constructed, including the 3,500-seat Ruth Lindsay Auditorium (1976) and the Preschool Building (1986).
In 1982, Dr. Jerry Vines joined Dr. Lindsay, Jr. as Co-Pastor. In 1993, the congregation moved into its present auditorium with a seating capacity of nearly 10,000.
In 2000, Dr. Homer G. Lindsay, Jr. went home to be with the Lord. However, the church's ministry and growth continued under Dr. Vines' dedicated leadership. In 2002, a new Children's Building and Welcome Center opened, bringing all the ministries for children together for the first time and providing space for the Counseling Ministry.
After 28 years as Pastor of First Baptist, Dr. Vines announced his retirement in 2005. He gave his last message at the conclusion of the annual Pastors’ Conference on January 29, 2006. On Sunday, February 19, 2006 Dr. Mac Brunson was unanimously called to be the 23rd pastor of First Baptist Church of Jacksonville.
Burdened by the lack of biblical, historical and moral teaching to the youth of our country, Pastor Brunson compelled the church to open a school that would be God honoring, Bible centered, and college preparatory. Responding to his vision, the church opened the First Baptist Academy in August of 2009 serving Kindergarten through 8th grade. The First Baptist Junior Academy and Development Learning Center ministers to families with children from infants through Pre-Kindergarten. Both schools partner with Christian families to provide outstanding scholastic and spiritual education.
In the same manner, Pastor Brunson realized that reaching Jacksonville for Christ would require taking the church to the people. In 2009, First Baptist launched its first satellite campus in St. John’s County at Ponte Vedra High School. Designed with the same Christ-centered vision as downtown, the South Campus serves as an outreached arm to embrace people in our Southern communities.