First Baptist Church (1937)


Reverend Claude L. and Lucille Farmer Phillips moved to Hinesville in 1936 from Stillmore, Georgia, where he had been pastor of the Stillmore Baptist Church for eight years. He had four children by his first wife, who died, and they had four children.


Official reason for their move to Liberty County was employment with the Fraser Lumber Company at McIntosh. "But I think," Lucille Farmer Phillips later said, "that the Lord led us to this place."


"When we came to Hinesville," she recalled, "we found that while Hinesville was 100 years old, there was no Baptist church in town for white persons. We commenced discussions with other area Baptists about organizing such a church."


J.E. Groover invited the Phillips family to attend worship services at Gum Branch Baptist Church, and discuss organiza­tion plans for a Baptist church in Hinesville, in early 1937. After church services they ate dinner with J.E. and Susie Taylor Groover in the old log kitchen of their home near Crossroads. When the meal was over, Reverend Phillips, J.E. Groover, Hampton W. Groover, and Minzia J. Groover remained at the table and made plans for the organization meeting.


The organization meeting took place on April 1, 1937, in the home of Reverend Phillips at 104 West Court Street in Hinesville. Present at the meeting, other than the Reverend Claude L. and Lucille Farmer Phillips, were O.J. Dawson, A.O. Flowers, J.E. Groover, Hampton W. Groover, Minzia J. Groover, Reverend C.L. Milton, and Floyd Chapman.


Reverend Phillips became first pastor of the Hinesville Baptist Church. Lucille Farmer Phillips was the first presi­dent of its Womens Missionary Union. Maria Boulineau Fraser donated the land on which the first church building was constructed. Her husband, Joseph B. Fraser Sr., was a Presbyterian, but she remained a Baptist all of her life.


The first persons baptized members of the Hinesville Baptist Church were Armilda and Odell Flowers, Roberta Mobley, and Weslie Ann Phillips. The baptisms took place in Winn Mill Pond. Other original members were admitted by letters from their churches.


The Hinesville Baptist Church was the only church of that denomination in Hinesville until after World War II. After other Baptist churches were established in town, it became the First Baptist Church of Hinesville.


From "Sweet Land of Liberty, A History of Liberty County, Georgia" by Robert Long Groover; Page(s) 95; Used by the permission of the Liberty County Commissioners Office