Facilities & Special Events
The present sanctuary was dedicated in 1887 after being located in four other locations around downtown Macon.
The Sanctuary contains many interested Christian symbols to enhance our worship. Among them: the presence of the trefoil (a symbol of the Trinity); the presence of the quatrefoil (a traditional Christian symbol of 4 overlapping circles); a beautiful stained-glass rose window; and 12 beautiful stained glass windows depicting the life of Jesus. Also of architectural note, the inside of the sanctuary roof is shaped like an upside-down ship’s hull, using the traditional Christian symbol of a boat to reflect that safety and sanctuary can be found in this holy space.
Beneath the sanctuary is the Great Room, a smaller gathering place and home to the Faithful Followers Sunday School Department.
It was christened “The Great Room” in 2004, after a renovation, in appreciation of “The Greatest Generation,” the older members of FBCX who given their time, resources, and talents through the years to make First Baptist a place of worship, discipleship, missions and fellowship.
Connected to the Sanctuary building is the Administration Building where the minister’s offices, church library, and music suite are located on the first floor. Beneath the administrative offices lies the Fellowship Hall. This is our main locale for Wednesday Family Night Suppers, church banquets, large group gatherings and even wedding receptions.
Connected to the Administration Building is the High Street Educational Building.
This building houses the church nursery, children’s, and adult Sunday school classes. The third floor is home to our Youth Center, where our middle and high school students gather. The bottom floor of the High Street building houses our “Crisis Closet.”
Connected to the High Street Building is the Washington Avenue Building. The Washington Avenue Building is home to “Koinonia Corner” — our children’s center — on the third floor. Also, preschool and adult Sunday School classes are located on its bottom two floors.
Special Events & Weddings
Any special event using the church facilities must be scheduled through the church Facilities Manager.
After approval from the staff, the facilities manager will be the primary liason between the church and those scheduling the event.
To schedule a wedding, the wedding party must contact the church office to receive the contact information of the Wedding Coordinator. After a conference between the two, the Wedding Coordinator takes the request to the ministerial staff to make sure the date is clear for everyone.
First Baptist regards the wedding ceremony as a worship service and the expectation is that the wedding party will also regard the ceremony in the same way.
Weddings must be officiated by a member of the ministry staff or one of the many ordained clergy within our congregation.
We will happily accommodate both traditional and same-sex couples.
The Joan S. Godsey Pipe Organ
About The Joan Stockstill Godsey Organ
This pipe organ—given in honor of Joan S. Godsey by her family—was designed and built by the A.E. Schlueter Pipe Organ Company of Lithonia, Georgia. The relationship between the Schlueter family, First Baptist Church of Christ, and the Godsey family began more than 30 years ago when Arthur Schlueter, III, attended Mercer University. Arthur did not know that three decades later he would have the opportunity to build a new instrument for First Baptist Church, fulfilling the call at graduation from then-President Kirby Godsey to go out and do his part to make the world a more beautiful place.
As an accomplished musician and dedicated congregant, Joan Godsey has served as organist, choirmaster, Sunday School teacher, and deacon. Her deep devotion to the music ministry of First Baptist for more than 40 years, combined with her encouragement of music and music education throughout the Macon community, is one of many reasons her family has given this gift in her honor.
In 2016, the church and the Schlueter organ company initiated the discussion of the church’s existing organ and how to improve it for worship. The existing Schantz organ consisted of 35 ranks of pipework, and, while a good, basic service instrument, it did not have the depth of resources to fully support the music program as it has evolved at the church.
The vision was to design a new instrument that would follow the precepts of American eclectic tonal design while supporting the great organ works by luminaries such as Widor, Franck, Bach, and others. In the interest of the stewardship of previous organ gifts, it was decided to re-use portions of the pipework (re-pitching, re-scaling, and/or re-voicing) from the existing instrument, where beneficial and practical. This was achieved in a positive, cohesive manner that still allowed the creation of an instrument that stands under the Schlueter name and tonal design.
The design of the new organ case pays homage to the architecture of the 1887 sanctuary and includes a rich brocade of carvings and custom moldings that harken to other ecclesiastical elements within the church. The case and pipes rise over 30 feet from the raised choir loft for a commanding visual and tonal location in the worship space. It is an instrument conceived first and foremost to solidly support the choir and congregation in worship while also allowing the varied repertoire written for organ across the span of time to flourish.
As a token of gratitude for the commission to build this new instrument, several stops were donated by the Schlueter family to the church. These include several sets of strings and the woodwind-class reeds, including a restored orchestral 1920s-era Clarinet from the renowned pipe organ builder, Ernest M. Skinner.
The Schlueter organ consists of three manual divisions, a pedal division, 51 ranks of windblown pipes (approximately 2,900 pipes), and 9 digitally-reproduced ranks.
A FURTHER HISTORY OF ORGANS AT FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF CHRIST
Music has played a vital role in worship at First Baptist Church of Christ at Macon since the church’s founding in 1826. However, the earliest archival record of the use of an organ dates to 1860 at the church’s fourth location at 144 Second Street. The choir leader, Mr. I.R. Branham, donated an organ—most likely a reed organ. It was subsequently sold in 1863 with the proceeds being used to help defray the $1,500 cost of another organ (of unknown type or origin).
In October 1885, as construction neared completion on the sanctuary at the top of Poplar, the chair of the music committee reported that “a new organ had been priced to the church at $2,800.” One month later, the unimaginable happened. A fire, which began in an adjacent building, spread to the church and heavily damaged the nearly-completed sanctuary, leaving “the front wall crumbled, the roof of the lower tower destroyed, and the top of the great tower empty, the bell having fallen from its position.”
The evening following the disastrous fire, the church voted to proceed at once to rebuild the damaged sanctuary to completion and authorized the purchase of the new organ from Henry Pilcher’s Sons Organ Company of Louisville, Kentucky, at a price of $2,500.
The Pilcher organ—consisting of 2 manuals, a pedal division, and 18 stops—played for the sanctuary’s inaugural worship service in May 1887. It remained in service for 62 years, until June 1949, though the church seriously contemplated replacing it in 1929-30.
In the 1940s, Mr. W. Lee Wood, who had come to the church in 1934 as organist and financial secretary, championed the cause to replace the aging Pilcher organ. His guidance led the church to sign a contract with the Reuter Organ Company of Lawrence, Kansas to build a new instrument. Upon removal of the Pilcher organ in the summer of 1949, a chamber was built to house the new Reuter pipework above and behind the choir loft. This chamber continues to house the organ’s pipework today.
In January 1950, the church dedicated the new Reuter organ (opus 871), inviting Mr. Claude Murphree—who led the organ department at the University of Florida—to play for the service. The Reuter organ consisted of 3 manuals, a pedal division, 19 ranks, and approximately 1,400 pipes. An excerpt from the church’s bulletin at the time of the dedication: “The beautiful and majestic organ…is a modern three-manual instrument designed to give full and brilliant expression to the great compositions of sacred music. The organ has been placed so that the full tonal beauty can be heard by all and has been cased in an attractive grille designed to compliment [sic] the architecture of the sanctuary.”
The Reuter organ, valued at $18,000, was gifted to the church by the Mallary family in memory of Mr. Edgar Young Mallary, Sr., who had served as Chairman of the Board of Deacons, Superintendent of Sunday School, Music Committee Chairman, and teacher of the Mallary Bible Class at First Baptist Church of Christ. The 10 lowest pipes of the Open Diapason from the 1887 Pilcher organ were retained for decorative use in the façade of the Reuter organ. These non-functioning façade pipes were later removed during a sanctuary renovation project in 1967.
In 1986, the church implemented Phase IV of a long-standing renovation plan, which included rebuilding the E.Y. Mallary memorial organ at a cost of $181,000.
The church awarded the contract to the Schantz Pipe Organ Company of Orrville, Ohio, and in May 1986, installation was completed. The Schantz organ (Opus 1822) consisted of 3 manuals, a pedal division, and 35 ranks of pipes. The only parts re-purposed from the Reuter organ were 3 ranks of pedal pipes and the shell of the organ console, making it essentially a new instrument.
In 2016, after 30 years of service from the Schantz organ, the church contacted the A.E. Schlueter Pipe Organ Company of Lithonia, Georgia, to discuss renovating the organ, including performing preventative maintenance, building a new console, and adding multiple digitally-reproduced pipe ranks.
However, prior to initiating the renovation, the Godsey family offered to donate the funds so that a new organ could be built in honor of Joan S. Godsey.
Honoring the stewardship of gifts for previous organ installations, approximately 60% of the Schantz pipes were re-voiced, re-pitched, or re-scaled for use in the Schlueter organ, including the 3 pedal ranks previously preserved from the 1949 Reuter organ. Floor supports were added underneath the pipe chamber to sustain the weight of the new organ.
Installation of the A.E. Schlueter organ began in late October 2017. Though originally scheduled for completion by Christmas 2017, the organ entered into service in February 2018. Today, Sunday, April 29, 2018, the church dedicates the Joan S. Godsey organ, which consists of 3 manual divisions, a pedal division, 51 ranks of windblown pipes (approximately 2,900 pipes) and 7 digitally-reproduced ranks.