HISTORY OF ROBERT LEE BAPTIST CHURCH
submitted by Jo Collier
(daughter of Sadye McCabe Chumley)
What a living thing it is! When Bro. Payne in 1909 made a motion to talk to the brethren at San Angelo - when the church thanked Miss Ollie Green time and again for her faithfulness - when the good brother made a motion to call a pastor and to pay him what they could and more when the church was able - when Bro. Bloodworth preached time after time throughout the years when the church had no pastor - when they decided to remodel after the storm - when they decided to build a pastor's home - when they had no money and decided to build a new church building ON FAITH because it was needed - - - All this was history in the making! Even this morning when our men, women and children poured into the Sunday School rooms will go down in our church history.
As I sat in our church study, pouring over the old minutes, I wondered whether some day maybe, many years from now, some of these babies that were here today would sit in a big new study reading the minutes of December 2, 1945 - and say: "I see where a Mrs. Chumley gave the church history." And one of them will reply: "Yes, I remember that old woman - she always wore such tacky hats. But you know, I can remember she was always faithful." I pray that will be remembered!
(Note: The remainder of the speech was not written out in full but taken from notes written by Mrs. Chumley):
On July 26, 1904, the following people of the Baptist Faith met in the Methodist Church for the purpose of organizing a church: Mr. and Mrs. J. N. Cox, Mr. and Mrs. Berry Cole, Mr. and Mrs. W. C. Merchant, Mr. and Mrs. T. D. Evans, J. A. Green, Misses Willie and Ollie Green, C. C. Merchant and Mrs. John Patterson. They decided to name the church The Robert Lee Baptist Church.
That night the door of the church was opened and Marie Merchant was received as a candidate for baptism. A vote of thanks was given to Don Green (no relation to Miss Ollie) for the gift of a lot on which to build a church and messengers were elected to the Association.
In August the church in conference decided not to have Sunday School at this time.
They were from July until January getting a pastor on the field. The Rev. W. A. Knight was called for one-quarter time.
The building campaign was successful and the new church was being used by June 15 - their first church wedding took place then with Miss Fannie McCutchen and Edgar Lockhart being the happy couple. Miss Ollie Green played the wedding music on the organ. In July, one (1) year old, the church had its first protracted meeting. There was one addition by baptism and 8 by letter making 31 members at the end of the first year.
In September Bro. R. M. Cumbie (who was one of the first Baptist preachers in this part of the country and helped organize the old First Church from which this church was a branch) preached for the church. The November minutes show that the lamp and organ were paid for. At this time the Sunday School Superintendent apologized for UNCHRISTIAN behavior and offered his resignation. The church refused and forgave him freely - but later on the same thing happening again, his resignation was accepted but was forgiven the fault. That same November one of the brethren was reprimanded for being intoxicated. He apologized in December and was forgiven in January. One wonders if they thought it just as well to wait until after Christmas to forgive him.
In March 1906 conference voted to have the Lord's Supper quarterly beginning in April. Their second protracted meeting was helt in July with Bro. B. A. Copass doing the preaching. Added to the church were six (6) new members by baptism and seven (7) by letter. The August report showed $675.00 had been paid out that year and the membership has grown to 44.
In October 1906 Bro. Rosser of Bronte filled Bro. Knight's appointment (Bro. Knight being sick). The Miles Church presented a lamp for which the church sent thanks and Bro. Warren Graham was thanked for `his outstanding work in collecting money to pay on the church debt'. We note in passing that in December 1906, C. C. Merchant was Sunday School Superintendent, W. A. Salmon was Assistant Superintendent and Miss Ollie Green was Secretary and Organist.
School Superintendent resign and held a protracted meeting, Bro. Pledger of San Angelo helping. At the end of the meeting Miss Ollie Green was given a vote of thanks for her untiring faithfulness. A committee was appointed to finish the papering and other work on the church. Two (2) dozen song books, at a cost of $2.85, were bought. (We wonder that they had to use before this.) The Treasurer's report shows: Bro. Knight - $20.00, Bro. Pledger - $20.00, Ministerial Aid - $3.00, Christian Education - $10.00, and Association Missions - $2.50. So you see, despite being in debt on their building, they were trying to give to others besides themselves. A desk which we are still using was bought, it costing $16.35 laid down in the house. A sexton was elected, being paid $.50 per month. A good brother apologized for being intoxicated and was forgiven.
In May 1907 the first Ordination service of Deacons. Ordained were J. A. Sturman, G. W. Payne and W. C. Merchant. Bro. Rosser preached the sermon with examination of brethern by the Pastor and prayer by Bro. Joe McCutchen of Bronte. This was a great service.
The church had another meeting which went on for nearly three (3) weeks and $43.00 was made up to help the Bronte church. In June of this year the Pastor reminded the church that the building must be finished and clear of debt before the dedication, which was set for the fifth Sunday in June, could be held. They evidently got busy for the dedication was held. Pastor Knight called upon the building committee for a report. D. T. Evans, Chairman, reported that there were no debts and that the church building cost about $1,500.00.
Bro. Warren Graham, on behalf of the Church, tendered the keys of the house to the pastor - Bro. Payne made a motion to proceed to dedicate the building to the Lord - motion carried. Thanks were extended to the citizens of Robert Lee and other localities for their financial aid - Bro. Rosser of Bronte preached the sermon.
In July Brother Knight resigned to be effective September 1, 1907, having pastored the church since January 1906. In July the conference was attended by a "goodly number of brothers and sisters, although they had no preaching". Bro. A. T. Moore was called as Pastor that fall and regular Tuesday night prayer meeting was changed to Wednesday night.
About May 1908 a pulpit was given by Uncle Jack Green and a couple of other brethren and the table hitherto used was to be sold for $3.00. This pulpit it still used.
In 1908 a Bible School was held that summer and $15.00 was given to the Anti-Saloon League. Mention was made of a thriving Sunbeam Band sponsored by Mrs. Moore and Ladies Aid. Bro. Moore resigned that October and Bro. Rosser came as pastor.
In the summer of 1912, Bro. Rosser and Sid Williams held a meeting under a brush arbor. There were 21 additions to the church with many others joining by letter from other churches.
TIME PASSES - the little church has its joys, its troubles. The WMS was organized. The Cumbies joined in 1915 and Miss Ollie Green was Sunday School Secretary in 1923. In 1925 Bro. Lambe resigned his Bible class. Bro. Jordan was elected to take his place. Bro. and Mrs. Fikes joined us, he being recognized as a Deacon. In June a great revival was held, Bro. Draper being the Pastor - 16 additions to the church. In May of that year by unanimous consent all entertainment of visitors were left to the Ladies Aid. In 1925 they elected a woman Sunday School Superintendent - Mrs. W. M. Simpson. In June 1926, a great revival. In 1927 a conference was called to determine the damage done by storm on April 12. In conference this same year the Mexican Mission work was discussed but was left to the WMS, they having seemed to have been graduated from the Ladies Aid.
In July 1928 a pastor's home was to be built at once and it was. The church was repaired and W. J. Cumbie, B. M. Gramling and S. D. Hoots, were ordained as Deacons.
In 1929 a Unified Budget was adopted.
In 1931 Bro. N. W. Pitts was called 1/2 time each by Robert Lee and Bronte. The Sunday School report of last quarter of 1931: Enrollment at beginning of quarter - 168, New pupils - 15, Losses - 9, Average attendance - 91, Additions to the Church - 2, Total Offering - $124.58.
In 1932 the last quarter's report in the "red" by $6.51.
Sometime along the way Sunday School rooms were added.
In February 1935 the pastor, J. D. Coleman, was paid $20.00 per month.
In January 1937 a building committee with Delbert Harmon as Chairman. Mrs. W. M. Simpson was Treasurer... Mrs. Lamont Scott and W. F. Fikes and Roy Brey, reported they had decided to build. In February Rev. J. I. Wallace was called as Pastor. The church worked all summer getting pledges. Bro. Wallace resigned and Bro. Fred DeLashaw called that fall. In October the Building Committee reported they were ready to build and after many trials and many conferences and much prayer the Home Coming was held in April 1938.
Since that time the Church has been pastored by Rev. Taylor Henley, Bro. Hunt. Bro. Harmes and our present pastor, Bro. Fred Blake. Also one more deacon should be recognized - Bro. Dean.
(Note: Written by Sadye (McCabe) Chumley who died in The Robert Lee Care Center, Robert Lee, Texas, on August 4, 1999 at 104 years of age.)