The white-columned main structure, adjoining flat brick buildings and the expansive lawns on which early morning services are sometimes held -- once around a campfire -- give First Baptist Church of Decatur the appearance of a small New England college campus. And, in fact, this place of worship might have more in common with a liberal arts college than a Baptist church in the south.
First Baptist is not part of the conservative Southern Baptist Convention having been kicked out of that organization years ago for giving positions of leadership to women including installing one, Julie Pennington-Russell, as its lead pastor. The church is now part of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship formed in 1991.
The church has numerous programs for members and the community at large, including after school and summer camp, a private secondary school, a clothing closet and an impressive lending library. The old fashioned card catalogues are still in use though the library's collection - which includes everything from religious texts to Harry Potter books, children's fairy tales and the most popular mysteries, romance, and science fiction novels of the day - is slowly being digitally indexed. An interesting center piece of the library is the wall sized mural depicting children gathered around Jesus, which was produced as a thesis project in the early 1950s by the first student to receive a Masters in Fine Arts from the local Arts Institute of Atlanta.
- Hours: Sunday services: 9am, 11am
- Handicap Accessible: There are several points of entrance to the church buildings that have wide doors and ramps leading from the parking lot. The very large parking lot has several designated handicapped parking spaces nearest the entrances to the buildings.
- Parking: Free lot
- Denomination: Baptist
- Congregation size: 2,700
- Services: Child care, Choir/music programs, Missionary programs, Study groups, Youth programs
- Recreational facilities: Yes