The purpose of the Mid-South Baptist Association is: Connecting diverse churches by serving as a relational HUB.
The Vision for the Mid-South Baptist Association
We want to see the congregations of the Mid-South connect for mutual church strengthening and cooperative kingdom advancement.
The focus of the Association is on the fellowship of churches, and how fellowship can facilitate mutual encouragement and cooperation in fulfilling the Great Commission. Specifically, the Association desires to focus on helping member churches to be spiritually strengthened by the fellowship relationship so that each church will be able to improve its ability to serve in God’s Kingdom.
The first attempt at organizing a Baptist Association in the Memphis area occurred in the late 1800s. The Memphis Baptist Association began with 22 churches and 1,910 members in 1891 and dissolved in 1903 with 40 churches and 2,967 members. Since associations were not as prevalent during that time, The Memphis Baptist Association was short-lived. However, that effort was the catalyst for forming The Shelby County Baptist Association in 1903. Twenty-two churches sent messengers to the organizational meeting in 1903. Shelby County was the boundary for the Association. Rev. O. T. Finch was called as the first Director of Missions and received a monthly salary of $50. The WMU was instrumental in this effort and was a major contributor toward the Director of Mission’s salary. The name of the Association was changed, deleting the word “county,” from the name because churches outside Shelby County can be a part of the Association. We now have churches outside Shelby County and in two surrounding states. On December 13, 2004, the name was again changed to Mid-South Baptist Association to better reflect our identity. Today Mid-South Baptist Association has the largest membership in the State of Tennessee and is the fifth largest association in the Southern Baptist Convention. At this time, we have over 100,000 members and around 170 congregations in the association. Not only is the Mid-South Baptist Association one of the largest associations in the Southern Baptist Convention but it is also one of the most diverse. In addition to the traditional Anglo congregation, we have several churches using the Cell Church model. We are also using the multi-church model, with as many as three congregations meeting in one building. This model has saved some of our transitional inner-city churches. Ethnicity is also part of the diversity in our Association. We have seven Hispanic congregations, two Korean congregations, two Chinese congregations, a Vietnamese congregation, a Japanese congregation, and numerous African American congregations. Due to the large population of African Americans in the inner-city, one of our primary goals is to plant African American Southern Baptist Churches in the area. At the Annual Association meeting in October 2007 representatives approved the sale of the Conference Center. Operations as a camp ceased in 2008 and the property was sold in 2009 to Faith Baptist Church to remain as a camp, The Grove at Red Oak Lake. Due to the size and the population, over 1.3 million people in the metroplex of the association, we are classified as a mega association. Because of our numbers and diversity, the missions, ministry and outreach opportunities are unlimited. Hundreds of teams come to the Mid-South Association every year on mission endeavors. The staff has the training, experience, and passion to serve God in this strategic mission field. Their biographical information is available on this web site.