By Ann Chrissos
The First Baptist Church of Chesterfield (FBCC) celebrated its 170th anniversary on November 20, 2016. According to church pastor Reverend Stubblefield, “the theme for the anniversary celebration was ‘Staying Connected through Excellence’.” An entire weekend of celebratory activities included: a gospel concert; the annual outreach donation of Thanksgiving baskets; a pictorial directory; a mortgage burning ceremony; and culminated in the Sunday morning worship service with guest preacher Reverend Tonnie Bradford. The gospel concert, comprised of former and current members of the church as a means of “staying connected,” was held on Friday, November 18 at 7 p.m. under the direction of Lawrence D. Johnson, FBCC Director of Music and Fine Arts. Touches of Love Delivered, the church’s annual outreach mission, delivered over 200 baskets to families in need throughout the greater St. Louis area. The mortgage burning ceremony for the first mortgage on the church’s sanctuary took place during the Sunday morning worship service. Finally, guest preacher Bradford, pastor of Friendship Baptist Church, East St. Louis, IL, encouraged the church members to continue to be a “local church with a global mission.”
The First Baptist Church of Chesterfield was founded in 1846 when slave owner Leah (Maria*) Long veered from the custom of having Christian slaves attend church with their owners by granting her slaves a parcel of land in a grassy field. The land, located today at the southeast corner of Chesterfield Parkway West and Wild Horse Creek Road, was divided into two sections. On one section, a roughly hewn log cabin became the first church building and on the other a cemetery was established. Male and female slaves from miles around came to the site to clear the land, hew the logs, and to construct their own place of worship. Besides providing a place for religious services, the church also served as a school where the “Three Rs – Reading, ‘Riting and ‘Rithmetic” were taught.
By December 1875, the Church had approximately thirty members, who became the legal owners of the property. The deacons at that time were: “Brothers Samuel Harris, Lott Monroe, Pleasant Moore, Squire Green, Samuel Jackson, William Brooks and Samuel Brisco.” Sisters Anna Hubbard and Elvira Norris were also important church leaders. “Revivals were held when the farmers were not busy in the fields.” Friends and neighbors traveled long distances to worship and socialize together. As time passed, “Rally Day” was held on the third Sunday of June where mass baptisms, along with worship and feasting, were the highlights of the day.
New churches were built on the original site in 1870, 1911 and 1975. However, the Church acquired a new location under the pastorate of Rev. Robert F. Loggins, Sr. He was instrumental in purchasing eleven acres of land on Wild Horse Creek Road. The congregation moved to its new home in August 1996 where it continues to grow. The cemetery was dedicated as a memorial park and it has been nominated to the National Register of Historic Places. Today, “First Baptist Church of Chesterfield continues her commitment to being a blessing to others by committing increasing funds to outreach and missions assisting in disaster relief, crises support for needy families and foreign missions.”
Historical Book Committee. 162nd Anniversary Book of First Baptist Church of Chesterfield. Missouri. 16 Nov. 2008.
Mitchell, Herman interviewed by George & Ann Chrissos on October 5, 2016.
Stubblefield, T. D. “First Baptist Church of Chesterfield Celebrate 170th Church Anniversary.” October 11, 2016.
*According to church archives Maria Long donated the land, but descendants of the Long family maintain that Leah Long was the person who gave the land.