At the turn of the last century, as the Spanish American War concluded, the Wright brothers were trying to get their “flying machine” off the ground, and Americans were being entertained by music wafting from a crank-operated Victrola, another significant event began to unfold. A small band of Mt. Juliet residents began to assemble in community worship services in the auditorium of the Caldwell Training School, located on what is now known as 4th Avenue facing the railroad tracks.
On December 30, 1900 the following members committed themselves to forming a church: J.E. Fuqua, W.H. Cawthone, J.P. Bashaw, J.M. Carver, A.V. Wilkerson, Mrs. Lucinda Wilkerson, W.W. Caldwell, Mrs. W.A. Caldwell, Mrs. Novella Carver, Miss Fay Dell Carver, Miss Carrie Cawthone. By motion, they adopted the name Mt. Juliet Baptist Church.
On November 16, 1902, Brother J.J. Carr was elected as the church’s first pastor. Now desiring their own meeting place, J.P. Bashaw offered the church a lot, commonly known as “The Old Gin Lot.” The first plans to build a church were formed December 21, 1902.
The first deacons were elected on September 18, 1904. Brothers J.H. Osment, W.F. Rice, and S.F. Freeman were elected. The first Trustees were appointed on January 22, 1905. The Trustees were W.F. Rice, J.M. Carver, J. P. Bashaw, A.L. Yearwood, and J.E. Fuqua.
There was great celebration on June 24, 1906 when the first frame church was dedicated. At this time the church Sunday School was averaging 45 in attendance and the new building could seat almost 300 people. The people voted to join the Wilson County Baptist Association on September 17, 1922.
Disaster struck on Sunday morning, March 6, 1938. About 9:45, the church building went up in flames. Many will never forget the sound the large church bell made as it crashed to the ground. The people were in great shock. By this time they were having about 100 in attendance, but now they had no place to meet, until friends from Cloyds Cumberland Presbyterian Church put forth the hand of friendship by inviting the church to worship with them.
In 1941, the church membership had grown to 223, had 21 baptisms and received 10 by letter or statement. On Sunday, December 17, 1944, Mt. Juliet Church dedicated a new brick building similar to the building which is now Juliet’s Wedding Chapel.
On November 14, 1945, the church suffered a second disaster when this new edifice burned. For the second time, Mt. Juliet Baptist Church was without a place to meet. Temporarily the church met in the pastor’s house, above the old Mt. Juliet Bank and settled in Mt. Juliet Elementary School for the next several months.
Soon the church accepted plans of the architect and were ready to build again. The new building was dedicated December 7, 1951.
On October 26, 1947, Brother B.B. Powers was called to be pastor. Brother Kenneth Startup was called as pastor on July 2, 1950. Mt. Juliet Baptist helped birth Silver Springs Baptist Church in September, 1951. Brother A.A. McClanahan accepted the call of the church on May 27, 1954 and served until July 14, 1963. In October, the church called Brother William Stockton as pastor who served until 1971. During these years the church grew to an attendance of almost 400. Brother Charles Treadway served as interim pastor until the church called Bro. Billie Friel in December 1972.
Many significant landmarks have been achieved since. In November 1978, the church, now called First Baptist Church of Mt. Juliet, relocated to 41 acres at 735 North Mount Juliet Road and dedicated a new auditorium and education space. Mt. Juliet Christian Academy opened in 1979. Presently it stands as a Kindergarten through 12th grade school with nearly 500 students. In 1990, a new Family Life Center and additional educational space were built. In 1995, the church inaugurated a comprehensive prayer ministry with opportunity for members to pray in a new prayer room at all times during the day. On October 15, 2000 the church observed its Centennial Celebration Homecoming. Former members and friends gathered to share memories and celebrate God’s faithfulness during the past century. In 2008, a beautiful senior adult living community, known as Rutland Place, was opened with 112 units.
Brother Billie Friel transitioned into the role of Pastor Emeritus in February 2007 after 34 years of dedicated service to the church as senior pastor. On November 30, 2009, Andy Hale began serving as senior pastor. God continues to bless the church with spiritual and numerical growth, and average worship attendance on Sunday mornings is now close to 1000. On September 2, 2012, the church moved into a new children’s wing that increases Bible study capacity by nearly 50%. It is exciting to think about what God has done, is doing, and is going to do in our church and community!