— OUR STORY—
After much research and reading through the records written by some of the first people to be here, Luther Howard and J.L. Hendrix, and then handed down to us by Eva Brooks and Opal Dare, we have established that First Church held its first service in October 1914 in three rooms on the second floor of a two-story house on North C Street. There were a few families that were at those services that began this church with a $6/month rent payment. At that time, W.N. Sullivan was the pastor, and he was also an engineer on the Frisco Railroad. Pastor Sullivan held a five-week revival and stayed on to preach for another two years.
In 1917, the congregation had the chance to purchase a schoolhouse north of the home where they were meeting. This building was on the corner of Hazel and D Street where the church was established until they moved to HWY 67 South in 1995. John Weaver took over as a bi-vocational pastor in 1917. In 1918, the church voted to pay him as a full-time pastor. In 1923, the congregation began to exceed the building they were in and they decided to build. Over the next few years (1928-1930), the congregation continued to grow and was out-growing the buildings they were in. Even with shortages of materials due to World War II, they continued to build their current location up to meet the needs of their congregation size.
In 1946, Kenneth C. Tabor became the Pastor of First Church. After the war, the church was torn down and rebuilt to suit the size of the congregation. While in the rebuilding process, they held services in the J. Minnie Smith School for the next eighteen months. On October 26, 1947, they dedicated the new building. In 1976, the Stucker and Groves Grocery Store, across the street, became available and was purchased and turned into First Church’s Education Building. A year later, in 1977, the church had the opportunity to continue expanding and built on new church offices, Sunday School Classes, and a gymnasium on the west end of the building. In 1979, discussions for a new location began because the church was now land locked. A building campaign was carried out and money was being set aside for the relocation of First Church.
In 1991, Pastor Randy Groves was given the opportunity to relocate and sixteen acres of land was purchased on Business HWY 67 South. Because of the campaign, the property was paid off quickly and, in 1992, Pastor Randy Groves and Bill Foster were able to burn the mortgage for the land. In 1994, under the direction of Pastor Richard Triplett, First Church was able to break ground for the new church.
On August 6th, 1995, the new church building was dedicated. The former location was then sold to another church to expand the kingdom of God here in Poplar Bluff. Ten years later, in 2005, the mortgage for the new facility was burned. On October 12, 2014, First Church celebrate one hundred years of ministry in Poplar Bluff. Many special people have come and gone that have helped establish, not only the church, but the ministry of the church in Poplar Bluff.
Under the current direction of Lead Pastor Ben Higgins, we still have a unity of purpose, a unity of the Spirit, fellowship and community together and with the people of Poplar Bluff, unified prayer, and a unity to see the kingdom of God expand through the saving of souls. As Paul said in Philippians 3:10-16, “I want to know Christ better. I want to know the power that raised Him from the dead. I want to share in His sufferings. I want to become like Him by sharing in His death. Then by God’s grace, I will rise from the dead. I have not received all of those things. I have not yet been made perfect. But I move on to take hold of what Christ Jesus took hold of me for. Brothers and sisters, I don’t consider that I have taken hold of it yet. But here is the one thing I do. I forget what is behind me. I push hard toward what is ahead of me. I move on toward the goal to win the prize. God has appointed me to win it. The heavenly prize is Christ Jesus himself. All of us who are grown up in the faith should see things that way. Maybe you think differently about something. But God will make it clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already reached.”
First Church is a place where people can come find rest, acceptance, and the Lord. We understand that no one is perfect and everyone has issues, but no one is too far gone. No one is excluded from the love, grace, and salvation found in Christ Jesus. We desire to walk alongside you and speak truth and life into you from God. We desire to see God move and life change happen through Him alone. Everyone is invited because we are an all-inclusive community of Christ followers. Join us in living life to the fullest!