As early as 1928, Christian friends at then Mississippi Southern College (now the University of Southern Mississippi) and the surrounding community felt very keenly the need for a Baptist church to serve the college and the territory adjacent to the school. However, it was not until winter of 1959 that work began to form the church. On May 3, 1959, UBC was officially founded.
From its beginnings, UBC was committed to missions and the student populations at both the University of Southern Mississippi and William Carey University. Two of the first checks the church distributed were to fund work with students at both schools.
The first decade of UBC’s life brought significant growth in membership as well as permanent church buildings. The church had plans to continue expanding its space to meet the needs of the growing membership. Then, on June 16, 1971, the church made a historic decision to accept into membership a student from William Carey University who had grown-up in Nigeria. With this decision, UBC became the first Baptist church in Hattiesburg to integrate its membership. While many families departed UBC, those who remained were assured that they had made a decision faithful to the Gospel.
Continuing a trend of firsts, in 1976, UBC licensed its first woman to ministry. In that same year, the church elected its first woman deacon.
In 1979, the church sponsored a refugee family from Vietnam. The fourteen members of the family were embraced by UBC as the church provided them housing and support to begin life in the United States.
With these decisions, UBC began to take on a unique voice among the Baptist community of Hattiesburg. UBC was a congregation willing to engage the toughest issues of our time with the Gospel of Jesus as its guide. UBC was becoming a congregation with a diverse membership that accepted the gifting and calling of all its members. It was also clear that UBC was a congregation that took seriously the call to love and serve their neighbors.
In April 2016, UBC completed an extended period of study, affirming the core values that will shape our future—we are an Inclusive, Inquisitive, Community-Minded, and Loving congregation committed to the Way of Jesus. The final report coming out of that church-wide process is available here.