FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH

Bay City, Texas

MEMBERS OF FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH
February 1, 1922 - April 4, 1928

Bay City Business Ads from the
1911 Baptist Ladies Cook Book

2321 Avenue F (Hwy 60)           2858'47.98"N        9558'10.55"W

 


FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF BAY CITY

 

   MEMBERS OF TRESPALACIOS BAPTIST CHURCH, A MATAGORDA COUNTY CONGREGATION ESTABLISHED IN THE EARLY 1850S, ORGANIZED A BAPTIST CHURCH IN THE NEARBY COMMUNITY OF RED BLUFF IN 1889. IN 1895 THEY MOVED THE CHURCH TO THE NEW COUNTY SEAT OF BAY CITY, CHANGED THE NAME TO FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF BAY CITY, AND JOINED THE COLORADO BAPTIST ASSOCIATION. IN ITS EARLY YEARS THE CONGREGATION MET IN A COMMERCIAL BUILDING AND THE METHODIST CHURCH BUILDING AND PARTICIPATED IN A UNION SCHOOL WITH OTHER LOCAL DENOMINATIONS.

   THE REV. J. H. THORN BECAME THE FIRST FULL-TIME PASTOR IN 1903, THE YEAR THE CONGREGATION ERECTED ITS FIRST SANCTUARY. THE BUILDING, DESTROYED IN A 1909 HURRICANE, WAS REPLACED WITH A TABERNACLE AND LATER WITH A BRICK STRUCTURE AT THIS SITE IN 1915. THE CONGREGATION COMPLETED AN AUDITORIUM IN 1941 AND AN EDUCATION ADDITION TO ITS SANCTUARY IN 1947. FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH WAS INSTRUMENTAL IN THE ESTABLISHMENT OF CALVARY BAPTIST CHURCH IN 1947 AND EMMANUEL MEXICAN MISSION WHICH IT SPONSORED FROM 1930 TO 1989. ACTIVE IN COMMUNITY OUTREACH PROGRAMS, THE CHURCH OPENED A CHILD DEVELOPMENT CENTER IN 1979 AND AN EDUCATIONAL CENTER IN 1987. FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH CONTINUES TO SERVE THE COMMUNITY WITH A VARIETY OF MINISTRIES.        1994



 


First Baptist Church
Bay City, Texas

Printed in the Matagorda County Genealogical Society publication, Oak Leaves, Volume XIV, No. 3, May, 1995 and used by permission.

The early settlers of the Matagorda County area lived along the waterways which were the life-blood for survival and transportation. They brought with them a deep faith in God and a need to gather together with other believers. Those believers worshipped with their friends and neighbors regardless of denominational beliefs.

The Matagorda County area of early Texas became the gateway for the entrance of some of the first Baptist influences in Texas . Thomas J. Pilgrim arrived in Matagorda with Elias R. Wightman and his Texas immigrants on January 27, 1829. After the arrival in Matagorda on the Little Zoe, Pilgrim and others set out to walk eighty miles to San Felipe. There, in 1829, he established the first Baptist Sunday school in Texas .

By the 1850's both Matagorda and Trespalacios had organized Baptist churches. The Trespalacios Baptist Church was organized July 4, 1852 in the home of Daniel Wheeler. Some of its members would later become members of the newly conceived Baptist church at Red Bluff.

Red Bluff was located on the east side of the Colorado River one mile west of Bay City . A small log church had been built near Elliott's Ferry along with a gin, post office and store. The church and cemetery served people of all beliefs in that small community. Members of that congregation later became members of the First Methodist Church and the First Baptist Church, both early churches formed in the new town of Bay City .

On November 24, 1889 , the Baptist believers at Red Bluff formed the Colorado Baptist Church of Christ. The first members were I. F. Rainey and the following members from the Trespalacios church: J. B. Gailbreath, Ruth A. Gailbreath, Nancy J. Mangum, Cleopatra H. Williams and Mary M. Lee. At their December, 1889 conference, the members of the Trespalacios Baptist Church dismissed the five members who had called for their letters of membership to the moved to The Colorado Baptist Church of Christ.

Also in December, 1889, Robert Abner Partain was ordained to the Gospel ministry at the Trespalacios church. He was called to be the preacher for the Red Bluff congregation and served until May, 1895. Rev. Partain preached one Sunday a month. He also led the monthly church conference which was held the Saturday preceding his Sunday service.

The lives and businesses for the 3,985 citizens of Matagorda County changed drastically just before the turn of the century. On September 18, 1894, the yet to be built town of Bay City became the new county seat for Matagorda County replacing Matagorda which had been the county seat since the inception of the county in 1837.

The county changes also caused changes for the Red Bluff church. The members decided to officially organize their church and move it to Bay City. The church conference minutes of May 19, 1895 reflect the upcoming changes. "At the earnest request and solicitation of the missionary of Colorado Association, three members, Bro. Burns and wife and Sister Watkins of the Colorado Baptist Church, met, and after reading and commenting upon the article of Faith by Bro. Poindexter, Bro. R. A. Partain was called to the Chair, after which it was moved and seconded to change the name to the Church to the First Baptist Church of Bay City."

The newly named First Baptist Church of Bay City joined the Colorado Baptist Association in 1895. It is thought that 12 charter members formed the first congregation including Bro. and Sister Burns, a Sister Watkins, Sister Sallie Sims, and Brother and Sister C. L. J. Sisk. R. A. Partain continued to hold monthly meetings at the Hamilton Building in Bay City which was a two-story frame building used as the courthouse.  It was located at the corner of 7th Street and Avenue G. Services were later held once a month in the Methodist Church building. A Union Sunday School of all the cooperating churches was led by A. D. Hensley. The Methodist Church building was built in 1897 and located at the corner of 9th Street and Avenue E.

The following group of ministers served from 1895 through early 1903: A. A. Caperton, April, 1896; J. McKee, March, 1897; William Josiah Cother, 1898; and J. J. Lively, Dec. 3, 1899 .

Rev. John Harberd Thorn became the first full-time pastor on February 1, 1903 . He was the first pastor to live in Bay City and during his tenure the first church building was erected. The small frame structure was located on the corner of 5th Street and Avenue E. On December 30, 1901 , G. M. McGill, acting for David Swickheimer, conveyed Block 61, Lot 7 to the First Baptist Church of Bay City trustees, L. A. Hammett, C. L. J. Sisk and A. C. Harper.


 

Rev. Eli F. McDonald was pastor from January, 1904 until 1909. During his pastorate, a parsonage was bought in the 1500 block of Fifth Street. The church membership increased from 100 to 211 members. Mrs. Callie Blaylock, still a member in 1995, joined the church in 1909.

On December 31, 1909 , the First Baptist Church doubled the size of its property by purchasing the adjoining lot 8 block 61 for $200.00.

Rev. Henry Columbus Morrison was called to be pastor in 1909, but before he arrived a hurricane struck Bay City on July 21st and destroyed the frame church building. Services were again held in the courthouse in the courtroom.

The First Baptist Church purchased lots 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 in Block 89 of the City of Bay City for $3,000.00 on February 22, 1911 from Jno. W. and Lorena M. Gaines. Several months later a temporary tabernacle was built on that site which is the current corner location of 2321 Avenue F and Fourth Street.

In 1914, Rev. Morrison resigned and O. B. Falls became pastor. A parsonage was built behind the tabernacle and the tabernacle was torn down. Work was begun on a permanent brick structure which in 1995 serves the church as an educational building. Mr. and Mrs. Will Sutherland donated all the brick for the construction of the building. The church met for services in the Opera House, later the Franklin Theatre, while the building was constructed. The building was completed in 1915 and the cornerstone reads as follows.
 



 
(West Side)

FIRST BAPTIST
CHURCH
ORGANIZED 1895
ERECTED 1915
Rev. O. B. Falls Pastor
Christ the Chief Corner Stone
(South Side)

BLDG COM.
V. L. LETULLE
JNO. SUTHERLAND
B. H. SMITH
E. E. SCOTT
A. B. HEAD
(North Side)

D. H. REED
ARCHT.
A. SHOULTZ & SON
CONTR.




 

Pastors serving from 1916 until 1942 were: John Phillip Gilliam 1916-19; T. V. Herndon, 1919; William Mannie Joslin, August, 1922-25; Milton Emery Cunningham, 1926-February 20, 1927; Odis Rainer, March 15, 1927-39; and Paul Wendelin Davis, 1939-42.

On September 12, 1940 , Victor L. LeTulle announced that he would present $50,000 to the First Baptist Church to be used to build an auditorium. The solid brick building was completed in 1941 and was 48 feet by 132 feet. The interior was plastered and the oak-beamed ceiling was 50 feet from the floor.

The baptistry is in the rear of the chancel and is highlighted by a mural of LeTulle lake. The oil painting was executed by Matilde Conroy of Bay City and Elizabeth Harrell of Corpus Christi. Above the Baptistry, an exquisite rose window reflects its beauty."

 

"Brilliantly predominating the decorative design is the Gothic arch. This is repeated in the stained glass window, the carved ends of the pews, the oak paneling in the chancel, the chancel rail and the pipe organ grilles.



 



Sallie LeTulle


The inscription above the west door reads:

 ERECTED BY
V. L. LETULLE
IN MEMORY OF HIS BELOVED WIFE
SALLIE LETULLE
FOR THE GLORY AND WORSHIP OF GOD
1940

 




Victor L. LeTulle


James T. Draper became the sixteenth pastor in October, 1942. He was followed by Horace C. Goodman who served until 1946.

The members of First Baptist church of Bay City celebrated their 50th anniversary on May 6, 1945. The Church called M. A. Marshall as pastor in 1947. That same year, an educational addition was added to the first building erected in 1915.

On August 13, 1947, during the regular church conference, a group of First Baptist Church members expressed their desire to form another Baptist church in Bay City . Letters of dismission were granted on September 10, 1947 to fifty First Baptist members who became charter members of Calvary Baptist Church.

Groundbreaking in 1948 for the
Educational Building that in 2008
houses the church office, Pearl Morton
Hall and the church library.

Pastors during the next few years included: Allen Otis Webb, 1950-54; James F. Eaves, 1955-58; Ferman Rob Weedon, 1958-63; and William B. Williams, 1963-66.

In January, 1958, property was purchased by First Baptist Church on the southwest corner of Avenue G and Twelfth Street and dedicated to the Emmanuel Mexican Mission for a new church building. The mission had been organized in 1930, but had no building in which to worship. The building was dedicated in March, 1958. Pastors serving the mission, now Emmanuel Baptist Church include: Paul Siebienmann, 1930; E. Aloreja, 1950; Alberto Jua, 1954; Francisco Veles, 1956; Amando Virgen, 1957; Ruben Hernandez, 1961; and Candido Gonzales, 1966- .



Emanuel Baptist Church

William D. Baker became pastor of First Baptist Church in July, 1966 and served twenty-five years until December 31, 1991. Upon his retirement, the church voted to bestow on him the title Pastor Emeritus.

On March 17, 1968 , a ground breaking ceremony was held for a $250,000 educational building which was built on 4th Street east of the auditorium.


In an effort to reach out to more people in Matagorda County , First Baptist assisted in the formation of a Baptist mission in the Sargent area. Mrs. Augusta Glaze of Sargent donated one acre of land at Sargent to be used for the mission church.

Realizing a need for Christian child care in Bay City, First Baptist opened the First Baptist Church Christian Child Development Center which was dedicated on August 12, 1979. The center continues to operate in 1995 using the educational areas of the church buildings.

On Sunday, November 1, 1987, an open house was held for the newly-constructed Christian Ministry Center . It was built on Avenue F north of the original 1915 building. The Christian Ministry Center, which houses a gym, classrooms and kitchen, was built to help the church minister to its members and members of other churches and organizations. Both adult and youth groups use the gym facilities as they participate in sports leagues.

Rev. Michael T. Zimmerman, assistant pastor, followed Dr. W. D. Baker as pastor. He began his ministry as pastor in February, 1992 and continues to lead the First Baptist Church of Bay City as it endeavors to reach out to the community in the name of Jesus Christ.
 


 


SUNDAY WITH THE BAPTISTS
 

The Daily Tribune, Monday, October 6, 1930

 

Sunday was a busy day with the Baptists. Every department held a business meeting and elected officers for the coming year.

 

The church and Sunday school are now thoroughly organized and officered and propose a year of militant activity.

 

Following are the departments and those elected to take charge of each:
 


General Officers

R. Lee Anderson, Supt.

W. H. Poole, first assistant superintendent

Mrs. E. C. Anderson, second assistant superintendent

D. A. Einkauf, secretary

 

Adult Department

Mrs. E. E. Wood, Supt.

Mrs. B. F. Curry, secretary

Clara Mae Cash, pianist

 

Teachers

Odis Rainer, Men's Bible class

Mrs. R. B. Barnes, Women's Bible class

Oscar Barber, Business Men's class

Mrs. F. A. Hurley, T. E. L. class [Timothy, Eunice, Lois class for all ages]

Mrs. L. E. McDonald, Assistant for T. E. L. class

 

Young People's Department

Mrs. J. C. Sisk, Supt.

Herbert Anderson, Secretary

Lois Milby, pianist

 

Teachers

Mrs. William Cash, Fidelis Class

Mrs. J. P. Wolfforth, 16-year Girl's class

H. G. Williams, Young Men's class

 

Intermediate Department

Mrs. D. A. Einkauf, Supt.

Anita Nance, secretary

Pearl Anderson, pianist

 

Teachers

Mrs. J. D. Nance, 14 and 15-year girls.

Miss Ella Lee Pierce, 12 and 13-year boys

C. R. Anderson, 14 and 15-year boys

 

 

 

 

Junior Department

Mrs. Bub Smith, Supt.

Josephine Head, secretary

Mary Beth Jackson, pianist

 

Teachers

Mrs. W. H. Head, first year girls

Miss Florence Head, second year girls

Miss Gladys Lansing, third year girls

Mrs. W. C. Steinmeyer, first year boys

Mrs. Odis Rainer, second and third year boys

Woodrow Branstetter, fourth year boys

 

Primary Department

Mrs. C. R. Anderson, Supt.

 

Teachers

Mrs. Dora Harper

Mrs. S. A. Byars

Miss Vadis Jeter

 

Beginners Department

Viola Sansing, Supt.

Omega Slone, assistant superintendent

 

Cradle Roll Department

Mrs. Earl Vaughn, Supt.

Mrs. T. F. Anderson, assistant superintendent

 

Home Department

Mrs. R. F. Anderson, Supt.

R. F. Anderson, assistant superintendent

 

Visitors

Mrs. William Cash

Mrs. S. A. Byars

Mrs. R. Lee Anderson

Mrs. C. M. Amos

Mrs. J. D. Nance

Mrs. T. J. Ewing

Mrs. E. T. Goodall
 


 

Copyright 2005 - Present by Carol Sue Gibbs
All rights reserved

Created
Jan. 3, 2005
Updated
Aug. 4, 2012
   

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