In 1944, a young pastor named Dr. R. Paul Caudill was called to pastor First Baptist Church of Memphis. Armed with the grace of God and a letter of introduction from the Chinese congregation he so lovingly ministered to in Augusta, Ga., he took his first steps to develop a Chinese church, which today has blossomed into First Chinese Baptist Church.
Fueled by his passion for winning souls to Jesus Christ, he visited and shared the gospel with the Chinese living in Memphis. Within the first few years, the fruits of his labor were evident in the baptism of two Chinese converts, Ellen and Susie Wong.
Assisting Dr. Caudill were men and women like Eldon and Lorena Roark, Mr. M. B. McGee, Roy and Ione Pierce, Mertie Chapman, Marie Jones, Maude Dabney and countless others. Chinese workers were also called to participate in this growing ministry. Among those who answered the call were Dr. Jachin Chan, who served from 1960-1962; Rev. Ulin Ho, 1962-1965; and Rev. Joseph Yip, 1975.
The first official Chinese services began March 6, 1960, with Dr. Jachin Chan delivering sermons on the first and second Sundays of each month in the First Baptist Church chapel. After many years of interim Chinese pastors, the church appointed its first full-time pastor, Rev. Chee Wu.
Rev. and Mrs. Chee Wu came from Cleveland, Miss., in September 1967 with their sons, Jonathan and Terry. Under Rev. Wu's leadership, regular Chinese worship services were established, meeting each Sunday afternoon. Soon thereafter, Jonathan and Terry organized a choir called the "One Way Singers." The choir also served as the foundation for a youth ministry.
In March 1969, Mrs. Wu started a Chinese school which met every Sunday afternoon at First Baptist Church. A women's ministry, and the first meeting of the Women's Mission Union (WMU) was conducted at the home of Mrs. Joe T. Fong. In 1974, Rev. and Mrs. Wu retired but continued to serve the congregations in Memphis and Cleveland before settling down in California. Following Rev. Wu's departure, Rev. Paul Wong served as interim pastor, commuting on weekends between Memphis and Louisville, Ky., where he was attending seminary. He served until February 1975 and returned to Hong Kong upon receiving his doctorate.
In his absence, Rev. Joseph Yip served as interim pastor. Dr. Wong returned to Memphis in January 1976 with his wife Frances and their children, Frances, Paul Jr., Katherine, and Luke, to become full-time pastor of the Chinese Fellowship (CF). Under his leadership, numerous ministries and activities were started.
One of these new ministries was the Mandarin Fellowship, organized in October 1976. Under his direction, the Chinese Fellowship adopted an organizational structure which included the election of church officers, an annual budget, and regular business meetings. Recognizing that the youth were the backbone of the church, he began a youth ministry called "The Truthseekers" to train disciples and leaders. Monthly meetings were held which evolved into weekly Bible studies. Many activities were organized, including trips to the Youth Evangelism Conference, cookouts at Mrs. Roark's home, youth retreats, scavenger hunts, and after-meeting dinners. One of Dr. Wong's goals was to lead the Chinese Fellowship to become a church with its own mission and vision.
After many years of searching for a suitable home, the church purchased a building on Stratford Road. The Chinese Fellowship was officially constituted as First Chinese Baptist Church on May 1, 1988, with 102 charter members.
The first service was held at the Stratford Road church home on June 19, 1988. As the church grew, more Sunday School classes were added. After 15 years of faithful service, Dr. Wong announced his retirement. He continued to serve the church in an interim capacity along with Rev. Paul Li, who served as a temporary minister preaching on Sundays.
In the fall of 1992, Dr. Kenny Yau of Plano, Tex., accepted the call to be our third full-time pastor and began his pastorate on January 1, 1993. His wife, Sophia, joined him later. Under his leadership, the church added Howard Campbell as minister of education and Chris Moore as youth minister. Pastor Yau retired Jan 2017 but remain an active memer of FCBC.
By His grace, Pastor Vincent Choi was called by God to serve at FCBC beginning from September 1, 2017. Vincent is a native of Hong Kong, and his wife Josephine was born in Taiwan. The Lord blessed the Choi family with two boys.
In time, the church outgrew the Stratford Road facilities and made plans to move. Recognizing our need, Berclair Baptist Church graciously extended their facilities for our use. As a result of the move to Berclair, we expanded our Sunday School classes and began two Sunday worship services, one in English and the other in Cantonese/Mandarin. New programs were added including the Evergreen fellowship, the Mandarin fellowship, the Cantonese II fellowship, Friday Night Life Growth fellowship, and an annual family camp.
On November 1994, the congregation embarked on a building project with the purchase of 5.2 acres of land on Macon Road in Cordova. By the grace of God and the sacrifice of friends and members of the church, the first part of our building program has been completed. April 5, 1998 was a historic day for First Chinese Baptist Church as the first worship services were conducted in the new building in Cordova.