Originally known as Beale Street Baptists Church First Baptist Church, Lauderdale began in 1865 as the first black Baptist church in West Tennessee. In 1877, it split from Beale Street Baptists. Through a legal action in 1894, it was authorized to retain the original 1865 charter and status as the First Baptist Church. The first pastor, the Rev. Morris Henderson, focused on education, ethics, and racial harmony.
Later, Dr. T.O. Fuller served as pastor. An educator, author, and advocator of racial adjustment, he organized the Inter-Racial League. In 1939, church officials utilized windows from its 1906 building when they relocated to this post-civil war site. Officially renamed in 1954 as First Baptist Church, Lauderdale. during the 1950s and 1960s civil rights leaders used the church to develop movement strategies.