We are a multigenerational church in the heart of Mississippi. Sebastopol Baptist was first organized in 1855 and is a member of the Scott County Baptist Association, the Mississippi Baptist Convention, and the Southern Baptist Convention.
Originally, in 1855, we were known as Sardis Baptist Church. It was on October 6, 1855 that we joined the Mt. Pisgah Baptist Association with a Hillsboro listed post office. The church had 7 white male members, eleven white female, and two African-Americans, 22 in all. J.H. Butler was the supply pastor and L. Day was the delegate to the Association who presented the petitionary letter to the Association. The next year W.R. Butler was the pastor and T. Tolbot was the delegate. In 1859, the post office address was given as Sebastopol and there were 33 white male members, 39 female, and 3 African Americans, 75 total. That year they had 39 baptisms and in 1860, they reported 20 baptisms, making the total church membership 80 people.
The Civil war took its toll of members, there being only 57 on roll in 1863, in 1869 only 37, and in 1872 the membership had dropped to 32. The delegate in 1864 was J.M. Finley and in 1869 J.E. Spires. In 1876 the post office was given as Damascus. By 1877, the number of members had increased to 40. The church then dropped out of the association until 1882. When it came back into the association it had only 22 members on the roll, with C.L. Lewis as pastor and H.H. Easom and R.S. Estes as delegates. (The record gives 30 members having been lettered out the previous years) The membership gradually climbed back to 61 in 1892, then in 1893, fell to 22 again; then back up to 69 in 1899. Aside from the preaching services on one Sunday a month during these years from 1855 to 1889, little else was done except having members up before the church in conference for various kinds on unChristian conduct.
From 1900, on there occurs other matters of varied interest. For instance, in 1902 the church reported $35 having been given for pastor's salary. In 1915 the house of worship was valued at $700 and total gifts amounted to $627. The membership in 1917 numbered 84. A Sunday School was reported in 1920 with 58 enrolled. J.O. Gardner was the Superintendent and the Pastor was J.M. Spike's. Spike's salary was given as $287. In 1921, H.D. Pearson was pastor. The church roll had 110 names, a Woman's Missionary Society was organized with 31 members and Miss L. Walton was the president and Mrs. Jim Finley the secretary. A B.Y.P.U. was organized also. in 1925, the pastor's salary was $180 and the visiting preacher at revival meeting was given $54.36.
In 1929, the church applied for membership into the Scott County Baptist Association under the name "Sebastopol Baptist Church" with 133 members on the church roll. Delegates Earl Vance, Jim Finley, and O.C. Easom bore the letter along with Pastor A.H. Childress. (Something strange happened about this change of name. The clerk of the association in the 1919 minutes, page 5, says, "A petitionary letter from the Sebastopol Baptist Church presented by Brethren Earl Vance and Jim Finley..." But in the tables of that minute and all minutes until 1955 the church is listed as Sardis of Sebastopol. Then in 1956 minutes and on to the present time it is listed as Sebastopol.)
In 1930, Deacon J.O. Gardner is listed among those dead. Marvin Cox was superintendent of Sunday School with 73 enrolled and two teachers were awarded the Normal Diploma from the Sunday School Board with A.H. Childress as pastor. The church entertained the association in 1933 when gifts of the church totaled $115, including $90 to Pastor Childress's salary. In 1934, the W.M.S. had ten enrolled, all ten active, and had two tithers when Mrs. Loany Finley was the President. In 1938, when J.L. Moore was pastor, it is reported that fifteen families were taking the Baptist Record. The same year it is noted that the W.M.S. was newly organized with ten enrolled and Mrs. Townsend president.
In 1945, the church went to half time during E. Crenshaw's pastorate. The church roll stood at 155, 27 nonresident. The membership reached 217 in 1947, an all time high. The pastor's salary was upped to $1190 in 1951, while L.C. Brown was pastor. This was included in the total gifts of $2,454. The new house of worship was under construction in 1955 during the pastorate of Paul McDonald. The gifts of 1955 amounted to $4,433 including the $1,200 pastor's salary. The amount paid on the new building was listed as $10,398.
In 1956, the church moved up to 3/4 time with the pastor's salary at $1450. The church went to full time with a membership of 161 on July 15, 1958, when Duane Ivey was called as pastor. The church property was valued at $25,000. In 1961, W.A. Troutman was called as pastor. The church listed Sunday School enrollment at 121, Training Union at 37 and total membership at 160.
In 1963, the church appointed a committee to plan the construction of a pastor's home. The Deacons acted as the finance committee. Plans, specifications, and a bid of $9,565 plus tax were accepted by the church and construction began. On August 1, 1968, five years later, the church paid $500 on the indebtedness and only lacked $500 (plus interest) to retire the entire debt.
On May 15, 1968, Pastor Troutman gave notice of his resignation. On October 16, of the same year, Pastor Troutman was recalled as pastor. Mr. Marvin Cox was moderator and Mr. Glover Wolverton was church clerk. Troutman served as pastor until April 15, 1972.
On September 1, 1972, J. Herman Pilgrim accepted the pastorate and moved on the church field. The church listed Sunday School enrollment at 101, Training Union at 39, and a total membership of 165. Under the pastorate of Pilgrim, the church built a new education building which included a fellowship hall. In the last part of the year of 1979, Pilgrim gave notice of his resignation. He served as interim pastor through January of 1980.
The first Sunday in February of 1980, John Sharp was called to pastor. At that time the church listed a Sunday School enrollment of 94, Training Union at 52, and total membership at 160. Under Sharp, the church built another educational building and renovated the other two buildings including the worship area. A Sunday School growth program and intense discipleship courses were started. Sharp served as pastor until the last Sunday of July of 1991. Harold Scott served as interim until May of 1992.
On May 24, 1992, David Sartin became pastor and moved on the church field. At that time the church listed a Sunday School enrollment of 220, Discipleship Training of 163 and a total membership of 248. On August 17, 1994, the church passed a motion to begin a Hispanic ministry. There were enough Hispanic Christians attending the church at this time to begin their own service in the Fellowship hall on Sunday afternoons where Wade Fisher and Jonathan Sharp would interpret Brother Sartin. In 1997, work began on a permanent building for the Hispanic congregation in Forest and was completed in the same year. Sartin served as pastor until 2000. Henry "Hank" Moreau was called in January of 2001, as the interim pastor.
David Bankston was called as the new pastor in September of 2001. Sebastopol Baptist celebrated its 150th anniversery on May 1, 2005. Bankston served until May 11, 2005 and Henry Moreau came back on as interim pastor.
Brother Hank lead the church in the building of a new sanctuary that was finished and celebrated in May of 2007. Moreau was elected as permanent pastor until his retirement in May of 2007. After Moreau's retirement, Dr. F. David Rives was called as the interim in August of 2007.
James A. Clark Jr. (Brother J.) was called as pastor in March of 2008 and continues to serve up to the present.