Mission First was started in 1999 as a ministry of First Baptist Jackson. Seeing the extreme need for transformation of a community through the power of Jesus, the blighted Rosedown Apartments were turned into a community center housing a medical and dental clinic, legal aid office, educational facility and gym.
First Baptist Jackson started Mission First with the intention that the ministry would be something that others could join in on. Since its beginnings, 10 partner churches and numerous corporations and foundations have facilitated the growth of Mission First over the years. Mission First has also been blessed to have formed many partnerships including Mississippi College School of Law, Physician's Assistants Program, Baptist Health Systems, St. Dominic's Hospital, and University of Mississippi School of Dentistry.
In the late 1980’s Dr. James Baird had a vision for First Presbyterian Church (FPC), Jackson, MS, to assist in the inner city. In 1991 First Presbyterian Church Jackson took the first steps to fulfill the vision. Denny Terry, Alan Walters and Steve Rosenblatt helped to start Neighborhood Christian Center. Several years later FPC decided it was best for the ministry to be independent. Steve Edwards from FPC stepped in to continue the guidance. James E. Turner, Sr. was hired as Executive Director.
Peyton’s House was started in 2011 in memory of Peyton Houchins, son of Larry and Pamela Houchins. Larry’s Friday morning Bible Study purchased a house across the street from the Neighborhood Christian Center on West Ash Street. Its designated use was to reach out to middle school boys. Peyton’s Alma Mater, Jackson Prep, decided to make Peyton’s House their senior class project. This included demolition before remodeling and raising funds. Larry and Pamela’s Sunday school class volunteered to assist David Turner who volunteered his construction company to remodel the house. Volunteers continue play an essential role the ministry.
In 2012 it was opened under the leadership of Rafael Jackson. What started with 8 students has now expanded to 18. The after-school program includes Bible study, homework assistance, athletics, and summer programming.
Realizing that Mission First, Neighborhood Christian Center, and Peyton's House had the common mission of sharing the hope of Christ by meeting the needs of the local community, the organizations merged in 2016. By combining strengths and resources under one organization they are better positioned to meet the needs of those around them. The resulting organization operates under the name Mission First with the now multiple campuses referred to as Neighborhood Christian Centers and Peyton's House specifically serving 6th-12th grade guys.