In 1854, the Rev. Willis M. Pickett and six charter members formed the Union Baptist Church of Paris. Remaining in its original location, the church grew dramatically, eventually becoming First Baptist Church. Many prominent Baptist leaders have pastored the church, including the Rev. Robert Cooke Buckner, who, while at Paris, developed interests in outreach to orphans that led to Buckner Baptist Benevolences. He also led the church to create an early Sunday school program. The 1895 church building was razed in the 1916 fire that swept through Paris. The congregation has a distinguished record of service in local and foreign missions, and has sponsored the formation of several churches.