A book has just been released exploring the history of the First Baptist Church in Columbus. It was written by Author Richard Hyatt who is a member of First Baptist.
“The picture on the front of the book shows a baptism on the Chattahoochee. Local artist Bucky Bowles did that original art for the front of the book. And we felt like that kind of carried the idea of who we have been as a people through the years all the way through,” says Rev. Jimmy Elder.
The book took two years to research and write. Richard Hyatt is the author. He’s also a member of the church.
“I wasn’t just a hired hand with a laptop. These are my people,” says Richard Hyatt.
Richard says his job was made easier thanks to the church’s extensive archives.
“We actually had as many old pictures as probably we did contemporary. So it was exciting to uncover those things,” says Richard.
“I would call Jimmy Elder and say, guess what I found today? And he was kind of my sounding board. If he was impressed or excited, I thought we were on the right track,” says Richard.
But how do you tell the 200-year history of a church in less than 200 pages?
“From the first conversation that Jimmy and I had about the book, I was fortunate that he agreed that we were going to tell a story and not just a chronological history,” says Richard.
The books title comes from one of the church’s most fruitful times of spiritual growth. It was a program they developed called “Return to the Water.”
“It talked about remembering your baptism, remembering the initial commitments that you made to the Lord, and then coming back and seeing how you are living that out,” says Jimmy.
One of the stories Richard tells about in the book refers to a man named Uncle Billy. He was a member of the church back in 1830s and was baptized in the Chattahoochee.
“That was a nice story, but what made it really come to life was the fact that one of his descendants was one of the first teachers of a Sunday School class for the deaf that was here for 25 or 30 years. And one of his descendants, Diane Hett, is a deacon today here at this church,” says Richard.
One of the surprises discovered in researching the book was the fact that famous author Carson McCullers from Columbus attended First Baptist when she was a young girl. You can pick up a copy of the book “Return to the Water” at Dinglewood Pharmacy.