Whilst on Christmas vacation in NWA I ran across a church with an interesting name. Let me introduce you to The First Landmark Missionary Baptist Church. Childhood memories of my Missionary Baptist days along with visions of Baptist Denom class filled my head...scary...yes I know.
I wondered what kind of person might be looking for the First Landmark Missionary Baptist Church in town. Answering that question requires a bit of a stroll down Baptist Denominational history lane....try not to get lost, we may encounter a Stuckey's where we can stop and ponder our findings over an RC Cola and pecan log roll.
First there is First-they got there before anyone else, they own the rights to say....we are the original.
Landmark-when I think of landmark I usually envision some object by which I can tell that I have almost arrived at my desired destination or one of those roadside plaques along a small country highway indicating a place of historical significance. Do not be fooled these definitions do not apply...Landmark refers to a set of convictions called Landmark-ism. Let's just say it involves John the Baptist among other beliefs.
Missionary Baptist-the emphasis is on Missionary. Usually these local congregations send out their own missionaries rather than participate in a cooperative program like Southern Baptists.
Baptist-there are a variety of Baptists out there, if you're in the south throw a rock and you might hit one. Baptists in general hold to a certain set of common beliefs with variations and subtle nuances but one major identifier is the mode of Baptism.
So if you're looking for the first church in a given city who believes they can trace their ecclesiastical authority back to John the Baptist, practices closed communion, sends out their own missionaries, is a little skeptical of large denominational boards and will likely re baptize you before you become an official member then this may be your church.
If that isn't enough to sway you to at least visit then you might tell your kids that right next door are statues of a giant chicken and turkey....