The First Baptist Church of Jacksonville is a large Southern Baptist church in Downtown Jacksonville, Florida, U.S. With its current membership at 28,000 and with an average attendance of around 7,500 for Sunday services, it is the third largest church in the Southern Baptist Convention. First Baptist Church has its origins in the oldest Baptist congregation in Jacksonville, Bethel Baptist Church, established in 1838. The church experienced a period of considerable growth in the mid-20th century, and now encompasses eleven square blocks of downtown Jacksonville. Several former pastors, including Homer G. Lindsay, Jr. and Jerry Vines, were widely influential in the Southern Baptist Convention, leading it in both growth and a shift towards conservatism. This history book was written before the Mac Brunson era, which brought many changes to this Jacksonville fixture. Written in 1999 by Belton S. Wall, Jr., (Buddy), who died at age 85 on November 3, 2003 after a short illness. He was a native of Jacksonville and resided there all of his life. Buddy was employed by the City of Jacksonville Engineering Department for 24 years and First Baptist Church for 10 years. He was a faithful member of the church for 70 years and served as a deacon for 50 years, An avid Bible student, Buddy taught in the Middle School, Sunday School Department for 20 years and Adult Men for 15 years. He served in the US Navy during World War II before transferring to the U S Army Reserve retiring as Chief Warrant Officer 3. A founder of the Florida Baptist Credit Union, Buddy served as Chairman of the Board of Directors for 9 years. Active in denominational work he served, the Jacksonville Baptist Association for 27 years and the State Board of Missions of the Florida Baptist Convention for 6 years.