The history of First Baptist Church

Our History

First Baptist Church was established in downtown Des Moines under the leadership of Reverend John Nash in 1851, and is affiliated with the American Baptist Churches, USA. Reverend Nash was a missionary of the American Baptist Home Mission Society. Over the years, First Baptist has been served by 22 pastors and has met in five different buildings.


In the year 2000, First Baptist Church began its next phase of ministry in an historic move to Johnston, Iowa. FBC began meeting at the Johnston High School until our new building was completed and first services held on May 5, 2002.

A Community of Christ

Many social and community ministries have begun as a result of FBC. These include the building of two retirement residences and a new day care center in downtown Des Moines. Ministries like the Skywalk Chaplaincy and the New Wine Cellar for youth were unique and meaningful ministry programs.


First Baptist has also responded to numerous other needs in the community, including sharing a space with a new African American church, using the Church basement as a temporary shelter for the homeless, and giving flood aid in Des Moines in 1993.  First Baptist Church is also a charter member of the Des Moines Area Religious Council and considers interfaith and ecumenical cooperation to be an important part of our work.