The Rev. Dr. Freddie Douglas Haynes III, a prophetic pastor, passionate leader, social activist, eloquent orator and educator from Dallas, Texas will be the featured speaker at 10 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 13 as Nashville’s historic First Baptist Church, Capitol Hill, brings to a close its year-long Sesquicentennial Anniversary. His presence will help highlight the culmination of First Baptist Church, Capitol Hill’s 150-year anniversary celebration.
The church’s sesquicentennial celebration started January 4 with a Roots celebration, an April musical tribute featuring the Fisk University Jubilee Singers, publication of a book titled, “My Church,’’ by children of First Baptist Church, Capitol Hill, a wreath-laying ceremony at the gravesites of two former pastors, an October homecoming event and the November rededication of the Kelly Miller Smith Sr., Memorial Bridge here.
“We started our year with a Roots Service, bringing together four congregations – First Baptist Church of Nashville, Mt. Olive Baptist Church, Spruce Street Baptist Church and New Visions Baptist Church – celebrating the points where our histories intertwine,’’ the Rev. Dr. Kelly Miller Smith Jr., the pastor of First Baptist Church, Capitol Hill, for the past five years, has said. “Throughout the year, other events and activities have been a part of our celebration. We will end the year with the culminating celebration on Dec. 13, during our 10 a.m. worship service. The public is invited and welcomed.’’
Over the years, what is now First Baptist Church, Capitol Hill, has become known as Nashville’s Civil Rights church. During the 1960s, the church served as a training center for participants in the Nashville Sit-in Movement and later the Freedom Rides.
First Baptist Church, Capitol Hill, originated from the history of First Baptist Church of Nashville. According to the history of FBCCH, that white congregation of First Baptist, Nashville, allowed the black members – including slaves and free Negroes (nearly half the First Baptist Church, Nashville membership) to hold monthly prayer meetings.
On August 13, 1865, First Baptist Church, Nashville, granted independence to what had become the First Colored Baptist Mission and was led by the Rev. Nelson Merry.
It has also been heavily involved in ministering to the saved and unsaved, voter registration projects, clothing the needy and just recently opened its doors as a Room In The Inn participant.
For the past 31 years, Haynes has served as the visionary and innovative senior pastor of Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas. During that time, he has been engaged in preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, fighting against racial injustice while also being committed to economic justice and empowerment in under-served communities and touching and transforming the lives of the disenfranchised.
Rev. Smith added: “Our desire throughout the year has been to be a blessing to God. We realize that our year of celebration is but a small response to the love, guidance, grace and mercy that God has shown us for more than 150 years.’’