Church History

Ten years after Carthage became the county seat, a group of pioneers assembled to organize a Baptist Church. In April, 1858, the Reverend J. H. Whitmore was called as its first pastor. By the end of the year, the congregation had agreed to support mission and join the Central Baptist Association; church membership was 21, including a slave named Margaret Moore.
The Baptist congregation dwindled during the Civil War and in 1860, the remaining members decided to disband. They did not meet again until 1867, when the Reverend G. W. Butler reorganized the church.
Consecration services for the Baptist Church building were held in June 1878. August 1901 brought a split over the dispersal of missionary offerings. Dissatisfied members formed the Central Baptist Church, while the original group adopted the name First Baptist Church.
The new century was difficult for those who continued with the First Baptist Church. The Ladies’ Aid Society tirelessly raised money for the pastor’s salary and other necessities throughout the early years and the depression.
Decades of prosperity came with the 1940’s. A new building was dedicated in 1947; a radio ministry began in 1952. Pastors who followed included Harold Brunson, Douglas Laird, Charles Hall, Richard Walters, John Duggar, Nolan Summer, John Gregson, and Jerry Burnaman. Jerry Burnaman served as pastor for 21 years, from 1977 to 1998.
In 1999, Dr. Allen Tilley took the reins as Senior Pastor. To accommodate the growth, the church voted to build a larger sanctuary. On March 23, 2003, one year after breaking ground, First Baptist Church moved into its new sanctuary. Built on the site where the church parsonage formerly stood, the 13,800 square foot building seats approximately 700 comfortably.
In the spring of 2004, the church, with continued growth, added a second morning service. A record 144 new members joined in one year, between September 1, 2004 and August 31, 2005. Easter of 2006 saw 931 in worship. First Baptist Church presently has a membership of  over 1,800 and averages approximately 525 worshippers each Sunday morning. 
Painting of the original church, built in 1858.

We Believe

Mission Statement
We exist to help you find you your way home!
Statement of Faith
Our purpose is to glorify God and to help you do the same.
Our Core Values
Core values are principles that guide our lives, ministries, and church. These nonnegotiable priorities are not preferences that change with attitudes and circumstances, but help us hold steady in turbulent times.
  1. A Right Relationship With God
    If our relationship is not right with the Lord, then all our other values and relationships lose their effectiveness. By worshiping our wonderful Savior at Church and at home, praying daily, and by spending time in His Word (the Bible) are three key ways of keeping our relationship strong with God. God does not want our leftovers. He wants to be the Lord of our lives and our Church.
  2. Family Is Priority
    God’s first institution in Scripture is the family. Since God values the family, we must too. Everything that we do as a Church must be to bring families together and to strengthen the relationships within the family. Additionally, we recognize that the Church is also a family of believers in Christ. Therefore, we must be willing to affirm, help, encourage, and comfort each other.
  3. Ministry is Joint Ownership
    According to Ephesians 4:11-12, the purpose of the church is to equip, train, and inspire the membership for ministry. God has a place of ministry for everyone in the Church. All believers have been gifted with undeniable spiritual gifts that enable them to serve the Lord and His people effectively (Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12).
  4. Right Attitudes Are Vital
    Servanthood was the key attitude of Jesus Christ. He willingly, joyfully, and sacrificially served others. Even when persecuted, Jesus never spoke with anger or malice. Since believers are children of God, they must possess Christ-like attitudes. We will look for the good in everyone and always expect the best in everything.
  5. We Care About Our Community
    People are attracted to love and compassion; therefore, our Church will strive to make friends with those in our community so that we might have the opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. People do not care how much truth that you know; they want to know how much you care.
Statement of Beliefs
GOD. There is one living and true God, the Creator of the universe, revealed in the unity of the Godhead as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (Exodus 15:11; Isaiah 45:11; Matthew 28:19).

THE SCRIPTURES. The Scriptures are God’s inerrant, divinely inspired revelation which provide the standard for the believer’s faith and practice (II Timothy 3:16, 17).

CREATION. God created all things for His own glory (Genesis 1; Colossians 1:16).

SATAN. Satan is a person who, with his demons, opposes all that is true and godly (John 8:44; 1 Peter 5:8).

DEPRAVITY. Although created in the image of God, man fell through sin and that sin nature has been transmitted to every member of the human race leaving each one unchangeably depraved apart from divine grace (Romans 3:23).

SALVATION. Salvation is the work of God based wholly on His grace and received through faith in Christ Jesus whereby through the death and blood of Jesus, God forgives sinners, frees from condemnation, and gives full assurance of future glorification (Ephesians 2:8, 9; I Timothy 2:4-6; Romans 3:24-26).

SECURITY. All believers are eternally secure in Jesus Christ (John 10:24-30; Romans 8:35-39).

THE CHURCH. A New Testament church is a local congregation of baptized believers acknowledging Jesus as her only Head. Jesus instituted His church during His personal ministry on earth and will perpetuate it until His return (Matthew 16:18; 28:20).

LAST THINGS. Our risen Lord will return personally in bodily form to receive His redeemed unto Himself. All of the dead will be raised in order: the righteous dead in “the resurrection of life” and the wicked dead in “the resurrection of damnation.” Heaven is the eternal home of the redeemed and hell is the place of eternal punishment for the devil, his angels, and the unredeemed (I Thessalonians 4:13-17; John 5:24-29; John 14:1-3; Revelation 20:10-15).

Our Staff
      Ministerial Staff
Allen Tilley,
Senior Pastor
In April 1999, Dr. Tilley accepted the call to lead our congregation as Senior Pastor. With over forty years of pastoral experience, God has continually blessed his ministry with dynamic spiritual and numerical growth. He and his wife, Joyce, have two grown children, Grace and Daniel. Dr. Tilley earned his BBA degree from Dallas Baptist University, his MA degree from BMAA Theological Seminary and his Doctor of Ministry at Southwestern Seminary. His purpose in life is to glorify God and to help others do the same.
James McRight,
Executive Pastor
James began serving as Executive Pastor in 2018. He has served on the staff at First Baptist since November, 1994. Prior to his new position, he served over 25 years as Pastor to Students. He grew up in Jacksonville, Texas, and married Julie Miley in December, 1994. They have two children, Ian and Ava Grace. James graduated from Texas A&M Commerce in 1995 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agriculture Education. He earned his Master’s Degree in Community Counseling from Stephen F. Austin University in 2004. James enjoyed his experiences as a youth pastor and watching his youth grow in Christ. He looks forward to serving in his new role and giving oversight to the vision of our church – helping people find their way home.
David Yarbrough,
Pastor of Worship
Leading people to worship Christ through music is David’s life calling and heart’s desire. Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, David came to Carthage in 1994. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas and a Master of Arts in Religion from the Baptist Missionary Association Theological Seminary in Jacksonville, Texas. He and his wife, Susie, have two children, Daria and Cash.
Richard Reed,
Congregational Care Pastor
Richard began serving as Congregational Care Pastor in March of 2020. He has been a member at First Baptist since 1980 serving as a Sunday School Teacher and Deacon during much of that time. He was born and raised in Panola County and graduated from Texas A&M University with a BS in Agricultural Education. He worked half his career in a gas processing plant and the last half was teaching Agriculture Science in high schools. He is now retired. He and his wife, Terri, were married in 1976 and have three children: Dan and wife Ragen and kids Ryland, Rhett, and Rowen, Allen and wife Laura and kids Clark and Calum, Rachel and husband Jason and kids Adyson, Brock, and Case. He enjoys reaching out to members with spiritual needs they have.
Adrean Seaborn,
Director of Discipleship

Adrean joined our staff in June of 2021 as Director of Discipleship. She has served in various churches in primarily children’s and women’s ministries since 2007. Adrean, originally from Tenaha, met her husband Miles while serving at a church in Fort Worth. They were married in 2011 and have 4 children, Audrey, Miles V, Ava, and Max. Adrean graduated from Texas A&M University with a BA in Speech Communications and from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary with a MA in Christian Education with an emphasis in Children’s ministry. Adrean’s desire is to provide opportunities and resources for children and families to grow in their relationship with Jesus, and find fellowship and connection within our church family.

Support Staff
Joyce Tilley,
Financial Administrator
Joyce is our pastor’s wife and joined our staff in January, 2012. She was born in Santa Ana, California, and she is the 2nd eldest of 8 siblings. Joyce is considered a Marine Corp “brat” (father retired from full time duty in the Marine Corp) and has lived in numerous states. Joyce attended West Central Florida Community College and married the man of her dreams. Dr. Tilley and Joyce have 2 children.  Grace is a graduate of Texas A&M University in Galveston pursuing her Master in Ocean and Coastal Resource Management. Daniel is currently a student at Texas A&M University in College Station in the Aerospace program. “I am very proud of my children and husband, and I am blessed to be here where I have ‘found  my way home’ at First Baptist Carthage.”
Susan Dailey,
Administrative Assistant
Susie joined the First Baptist office staff in April, 2019. Susie has been actively involved in ministry all of her life. Her father was a Baptist minister in the area and served in several local churches. She is married to Mike, and they have a daughter, Kerri, who is an elementary teacher. Susie has lots of experience in ministry and the work place helping others. She will be the friendly face that you see when you come to the office or call the office. She and her husband love to spend their time with family and supporting kids in the local community. She has a passion for serving the Lord and being actively involved in her church. Her desire is for others to find Christ and their place of service in the Lord’s work.
Alicia Mims,
Administrative Assistant

Alicia joined the First Baptist staff in May, 2021.

She was raised in Carthage, Texas and has been involved in church ministry her entire life. Alicia is married to Doug and they have celebrated 13 years of marriage together. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Human Resources from The University of Texas at Tyler. Alicia enjoys spending time with her family outdoors and singing in the First Baptist Church choir. Alicia has a heart for people and is passionate about helping others. She is always smiling and aspires to be an encouragement to others. Her desire is to always show the love of Christ, because “You may be the only Jesus that someone sees.”
Church Personnel
Brittany Ford,
Nursery Director
Cade Dixon,
Billy Barnett,