Organized in 1851 by the Rev. Noah Byars and four charter members, the First Baptist Church of Waco worshiped in the meetinghouse of the First Methodist Church until their own sanctuary was built at fourth and Mary Streets in 1857. It was destroyed by fire in 1877 and was replace by a larger building. The present house of worship was erected on this site in 1907.
Historic figures affiliated with First Baptist Church have included five generals of the Confederacy, former Governor of Texas Pat M. Neff, and Dr. B. M. Carroll, pastor from 1871 to 1899 and later founder of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. Dr. J. M. Dawson, pastor from 1915 to 1946, resigned to become the first executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs, Washington, D. C.
From 1886, when Baylor University moved to Waco from Independence, Texas, the University and First Baptist Church have enjoyed close association. Every Baylor president since 1886 has maintained active membership here. Many of the faculty, administration and student body of Baylor University traditionally have provided vital links in the fellowship.
Several Baptist churches in Waco owe their origins to former members of this congregation.