A Brief History of Poplar Springs Drive Baptist Church
Early in 1883 a group of Baptists discussed the need for a Baptist Church in Lauderdale County just north of Meridian, Mississippi. They made plans for an organization meeting in the schoolhouse in the Poplar Springs area. These beautiful springs were located at the foot of the hill about a city block from Poplar Springs Road, presently Poplar Springs Drive. This very pleasant winding, tree-lined road was the main route leading north from Meridian to Kemper County.
At the organizational meeting two deacons were ordained, and the church was named for its location, Poplar Springs Baptist Church. Preaching services were held in the small Poplar Springs schoolhouse for several years with no regular pastor, but Sunday School was organized.
A new schoolhouse was built with a chapel hall in which the Methodists and Baptists worshiped together. They organized a Union Sunday School since both congregations were small. During the next few years a lot of trials would face this small group of worshipers- short term pastors, the building burned, and they moved to a building on the corner of 40th Street and Poplar Springs Drive. The Methodists erected a new building and invited the Baptists to hold services there as well. At this time the church met two Sunday afternoons a month. By 1904 the membership had increased to sixty-five.
A New Beginning
The church wanted its own building so it began to collect monies. A lot was donated by Mr. A.G. Weems just west of Poplar Springs Drive and south of where 38th Street now intersects. The building was built for $1250 in 1903. Parts of the steps to the church are still intact on 38th Street. A Woman’s Missionary Society was organized that same year. By 1910 the church had started the first Baptist Young People’s Union in Lauderdale County.
The church went to one Sunday a month worship and by 1915 had 139 members. They needed more room because of the growth and purchased the Sturgis lot for $1500 in 1920. (This is where the present church is located.) They sold the old church and lot for $800. They built a dirt floor 28’x40’ tabernacle until they could raise money. They finished the new church building in 1925 with an average Sunday School attendance of 91. This 120’x 40’ building consisted of a sanctuary and an unfinished basement, a dirt floor and five Sunday School rooms. By 1949 the church had grown to 315 members.
In 1952 a new sanctuary was dedicated. Growth continued and they had to use the elementary school across the street for the new classes in Bible study. In 1958 the parking lot was paved and plans were made for a new education building. In 1959 average attendance in Sunday School went over 600. A new education building was finished in 1960. A church mission that was started in 1949, Grandview Baptist Chapel, became a church on March 13, 1960.
A New Record
A new attendance record was set on April 3, 1961 with 706 in Sunday School. In 1966 the sanctuary was redecorated and a new organ was purchased the next year. In 1971 the first pictorial directory arrived and enrollment in the preschool weekday program reached 164 in 1972. A Christian Activities Building was dedicated in 1976. In 1992 the present education building was completed and 2007 the sanctuary was remodeled. This church continues to grow in ministry, missions and service to our community, nation and the world.