Thankful Baptist Church is a Historic church established in 1840 by a group of enslaved African American Christians. The church was an officially commissioned plant of the Historic Springfield Baptist Church. The original name of the church was established as Independent Baptist Church. After losing their first pastor, who chose to migrate to Liberia in West Africa, the Church was without a minister. The congregation wrote to their mother church, Springfield Baptist Church, requesting their assistance in sending them another minister. Springfield Baptist Church responded to the new church's request, with a letter stating they were sending the church a new minister, with a note which said, "although you are Independent, we pray that you will be Thankful, for who ever we send." The church indeed was Thankful, and agreed at its first meeting with its new pastor to officially change the name of the church from Independent Baptist Church, to Thankful Baptist Church.
Around this same time, the city of Augusta, recognized the rapid growth of Thankful Baptist Church, and donated two lots for the congregation to worship. The church has continued to worship in this same location, on the corner of 3rd Street and Walker Street since 1840.
Over the years, Thankful's campus has expanded many times to meet the growing needs of its thriving congregation. In 1896, the current Sanctuary was completed and was the largest church structure in Augusta at that time. The church's sanctuary has been recognized by the National Historic Preservation Society and was listed in the Historic Registry in 2012 for its Gothic style architecture and grand design, along with its historic contribution as a site for the Underground Railroad, which helped African American's escape from slave plantations in the South. Thankful's involvement in civil rights did not end with the Underground Railroad. Throughout the Great Depression, Thankful served as a soup kitchen for the hungry in the city. During the civil rights movement, Thankful was a meeting site for the NAACP. The pastor during that time the Rev. N.T. Young, helped secure voting rights for African Americans in Augusta, equal pay for African American public school teachers, and led protests for the integration of the public parks, theater, restaurants and schools. Rev Nathaniel T. Young served as the first Black elected to the Board of Education for Augusta City Schools and helped many with equal employment opportunities and improved work conditions for the janitors and school cafeteria workers. In the height of the civil rights movement Rev N. T. Young led Thankful to become one of the founding churches of the New Era Baptist Convention of Georgia.
This community activism continues today in the Augusta-CSRA.
In 2010 Thankful completed construction for its 8500 square foot (handicap accessible) Community Outreach Center, which houses a computer lab, fellowship hall, commercial kitchen, full audio/video technology, a stage with dressing rooms, class rooms, and administrative offices. This same year the pastor's study was renovated and added new book shelves, carpenting and new office furniture was purchased.
In 2014, the church completed construction on a 3 story oversize commercial elevator, two new lobbies, and 2 new handicap accesible restrooms for its Historic Sanctuary. A breeze way was also built to connect the historic sanctuary with the church's Olde Town Community Outreach Center.
In 2016, renovation of the three large rosary windows in our sanctuary were repaired, and restored, along with the side interior walls which were repaired and repainted.
New Era Baptist Convention
Thankful Baptist Church is a founding member of the New Era Missionary Baptist State Convention of Georgia and the Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc, (The convention of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.). As Progressive Baptist we believe that new era's need New Era ministries, and the gospel of Jesus Christ must address social justice as well as our moral values, ethics and eternal questions of salvation. The message of the Gospel remains the same, but our delivery of the message continues to change.
The Mission of Thankful Baptist Church is to fulfill the Great Commission Christ gave to the Church in Matthew 28:16-20. To Win souls through Witnessing, Teaching, making Disciples, and Ministering to the community.