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.
In the late 1980’s Dr. James Baird had a vision for First Presbyterian Church (FPC), Jackson, MS, to assist in the inner city. During that same time Joe Ann Ballard, who along with her husband Monroe founded the Neighborhood Christian Center in Memphis, TN, spoke at a Bethany Christian Services banquet. Some ladies from FPC were present to hear Joe Ann and invited her to speak to their ladies’ Bible study group. Joe Ann and Monroe were thinking about moving to Jackson, MS, to start a Neighborhood Christian Center. For various reasons they were not able to make the move, so in 1991 FPC stepped in to fulfill the vision. Denny Terry, Alan Walters and Steve Rosenblatt helped to get the ministry set up under the guidance of the Ballards. Several years later FPC decided it was best for the ministry to be independent. Steve Edwards from FPC stepped in to continue the guidance. Elder 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 and athletics. The summer program includes the above, plus field trips and working 5 hours a day each week in maintenance at the Jackson Medical Mall.
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.