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SHILOH MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH


Shiloh Cemetery
 


Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church


Compiled by Mary Belle Ingram & Shiloh
Church Historians
Alex Sidney III, Willie Sidney, Dennis Griggs and Chester Kemp
 


The year eighteen-sixty five was very significant in the history of the early Black settlers of the present day Cedar Lane Community. Their prayers had been answered, they now were free. Overnight, they were transformed from slaves to free community members. 


The
Cedar Lane area was known prior to 1865 as " Sugar Land " and was the land along Caney Creek on the Aylette C. Buckner League in Matagorda County , Texas . The principal land owner in the area was George John Bowie who had come from Virginia by way of Alabama in 1848. Sugar and cotton were the principal crops and many slaves were brought by the landowners to live on the plantations and work the land.


Before there was an organized church, the banks of Caney Creek became a common meeting place for the slaves on the various plantations, according to John Alexander Sidney, who served Shiloh Missionary Baptist church as the first secretary. "Songs were kept low, as to not disturb anyone who might consider them offensive. Steal Away became one of their favorite songs. Because of their trials and tribulations, they could relate to the song and find comfort in it. When all else failed, they could steal away to Jesus."


In 1866, one year after freedom was declared, a few dedicated freed men and women decided to establish a church where they could worship God. These men had a dream that some day that they would be free to serve and worship God as they pleased or desired. They were uneducated men but they knew God and they put their lives on the altar for Him. With their little earnings, they supported the cause of Christ. They named this new church the SHILOH MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH taking the name from the Bible verse found in Joshua 18:1 "And the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh and set up the tabernacle there. And the land was subdued before them.


Some of the leaders and members of that 1866 church were Rev. Dennis Gray, Rev. Lee Parks, Sr., Bro. Isaac Brooks, Sr., Bro. Jeptna Collins, Bro. Jupiter Jenkins and his son, Norman; Bro. William Royster and his children Harriet and Albert; Bro. David Nance, Bro. Griggs, Sis.
Patsie Parks , Bro. John Harkless, Bro. Tempie Harkless, Bro. John and Nancy Sidney, Sis. Fannie Allen, Bro. Charles Allen, Sis. Irene Spiller, Bro. Isaac Tone, Bro. Jessie Mills, Bro. Amos Franklin, Bro. Manuel Henderson, Bro. Mamuel Brown, Bro. Well Page, Bro. Johnnie Henderson, Bro. William Spiller, Sis. Ann Johnson, Sis. Mary Jane Johnson, Bro. Jessie Clay, Bro. John Henderson, and Sis. Susanna Norris.


The church secretaries who have served through the years are John Alexander Sidney, Norman Jenkins, Alex Sidney, Sr. (served 43 years); Alex Sidney, Jr. and Dennis Griggs.


Among the members who were involved in the formation of
Shiloh Church , two need to be mentioned for their services: Rev. Dennis Gray and John Alexander Sidney. Rev. Gray (1814-1879) became the first pastor of the church and donated the land on which the church was built although no deed was discovered in the research. John Alexander Sidney (1842-1928), the first secretary, served many years and through his reminiscences and other early members who kept the church going the church history survived and was passed on to each succeeding generation. Every member of that early church took a prominent part in helping to establish the church and making sure that it would be a success.


The first building was built on the land in the A.C. Buckner League belonging to Rev. Dennis Gray and was set further back from Caney Creek than the present day church. The storm of 1909 destroyed the original building and after the storm the second church was rebuilt at its present location which is only some fifty feet from the banks of Caney Creek. A bell was given to the church by the white people in the area and still hangs in the belfry of the second church building which is adjacent to the present day church. The bell carries the date 1856 and was made by Mieneely's of
West Troy , New York . The bell had different tones and was used to send out messages of celebrations, deaths, and warnings to the many people living nearby.


A cemetery is situated to the side and back of the old and new church buildings in the shade of a giant oak and pecan trees. Before 1865, the slaves were buried on the
Bowie plantation and other plantations along Caney Creek before "Freedom." Rev. Dennis Gray and his wife are buried near the old church under a huge pecan tree. Gray died on May 30, 1879 . John Sidney and his wife, Nancy, are buried nearby with their names carved on homemade tombstones at the head of their graves.

Succeeding Rev. Gray who served as pastor 1865-1879, were Rev. Anthony Martin (1879-1899), Rev. Lee Parks (1899-1926), Rev. F. M. Viola (1926-1958), Rev. R. Waddy, Rev. F. J. Thompson (1961-1974), Rev. H. T. Aldridge (1975-1985), Rev. Nathan Johnson (1985-1989), Rev. C. W. Floyd (1989-1995), and presently Rev. A. L. Edwards (Feb. 1996- ).


Rev. Martin became the second pastor of the fledgling church. Norman Jenkins served as secretary. Under the leadership of Rev. Gray, Rev. Martin and Rev. Parks the church continued to grow and prosper.


Under Rev. Viola's leadership the church was enlarged and remodeled, the first deacons ordained, and the Shiloh Choir organized. Brother Alex Sidney became the church secretary. The old building still stands in the shadow of the new structure, all for history's sake.


Under Rev. Waddy's pastorship, six men were added to the deacon board. The church's family's spiritual vision to expand came under the leadership of Rev. Thompson.


In 1970, the new church building was constructed next to the existing building and was dedicated for services one year later on
February 6, 1972 . The two-acre tract on which the new church was built was given to the Shiloh Church by the Van Vleck School District in 1957. The deed is recorded in Volume 310, page 292-293.


During the tenure of Rev. Aldridge, a combination educational wing, fellowship hall and living quarters were added. Six deacons were ordained, and one call to the ministry was answered. After he resigned in 1985, no major renovations were added except for a new carpet for the floor.


In 1985, with the Rev. Nathan Johnson at the church's helm, youth organizations and outreach programs were formed, and he became noted for his active role in the community. The music department excelled in enhancing the worship services and the church gave birth to three associate ministers.

Rev. Johnson was succeeded by Rev. Floyd in 1989, whose leadership inspired six calls to the ministry and several deacons were ordained. The church was beautified with a portico. A church van and a Vanhuissen grand piano were also purchased. Suitable parking areas were provided with surrounding church landscaping. Other programs were formed, and additional grave spaces were donated to the
Shiloh Cemetery .


Rev. A. L. Edwards, the minister in 1996, serves the church today with the same dedication and fervor of the early ministers.


The
Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church is affiliated with the Lincoln Southern District Association. Shiloh is also a member of the Congress of Christian Education, B.M.E. State Convention of Texas and of the National Convention U.S.A. , Incorporated.


Throughout the past 130 years
Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church has provided a place of worship and also a meeting place for the black community. During Hurricane Carla, the church became a storm shelter. The church is always available for weddings, funerals or any event designed to strengthen the local community. Presently, the church cafeteria is the meeting place for a church sponsored karate class and an Economic Action group has headquarters at the church.


The church has sponsored a number of outreach programs. With the purchase of a van, transportation to and from church services is provided to the elderly and other members. The pastor and deacons will administer the Lord's Supper to sick and shut-in members at their homes. Under the leadership of the Missionary Society the members are visited frequently. Also, the brotherhood takes an active role in providing outreach sermons. Each summer the church sponsors a week-long
Vacation Bible School .

There are many group activities for all ages. Probably the most well known is the singing ministry provided by the Field Singers who are known throughout the
South Texas area. Although some of the Fields family has moved to distant locations, the group and most of its members originated at Shiloh .

The church sponsors several choirs. Among these are the Youth Choir, the Young Adult Choir, the Adult Choir, the Men's Choir and the Combined Choir. The church sponsors a drill team and a youth praise dance group. The church annually sponsors a Thanksgiving dinner, and Easter and Christmas programs. The church is blessed with a strong board and mission department.


Originally, the Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church served a very large area. When first organized, Shiloh was the only church in the Cedar Lane Area where Black people could worship. Therefore, people from all the surrounding communities came to Shiloh . Later, as other churches were organized in the surrounding black settlements, the church became more community oriented.


Before 1900 and up until the 1930s the church building was also used for a school. Two of the early teachers were Willie Hillard and Mary Brown. The school met in the church and later came to be known as the "
Mabel Kennedy School " named for a county school superintendent. Later a School was built where the present-day church now stands. In the 1894-95 school census of Matagorda County almost 100 children are listed for the Shiloh school.


There have been many significant events held at the church. Annual day programs, weddings, funerals, workshops, revivals, special dinners at Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas programs as well as Black History programs. The annual homecoming program held each third Sunday in September is the highlight of all the events as former members come from far and near to celebrate their heritage, to renew old acquaintances and thank God for His providence and goodness of the past 130 years for their SHILOH MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH!
 


SHILOH
MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH

FOLLOWING EMANCIPATION IN 1865, FREEDMEN AND WOMEN ESTABLISHED THE SHILOH MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH NEAR CANEY CREEK IN 1866. INSTRUMENTAL IN THE CHURCH FORMATION WERE THE REVEREND DENNIS GRAY (1814-1879), SECRETARY JOHN ALEXANDER SIDNEY (1842-1928) AND MANY CHARTER MEMBERS.

THE FIRST CHURCH BUILDING WAS ERECTED ON LAND FROM THE A. C. BUCKNER LEAGUE PURCHASED BY THE REVEREND MR. GRAY AND DONATED TO THE CHURCH. THE BUILDING ALSO SERVED AS A COMMUNITY SCHOOL WITH AN ENROLLMENT OF ABOUT 100 PUPILS. A CEMETERY WAS ESTABLISHED IN THE 1870s NEAR THE CHURCH AND CONTAINS THE GRAVES OF CHURCH AND COMMUNITY MEMBERS.

A STORM IN 1909 DESTROYED THE ORIGINAL CHURCH BUILDING , AND A SECOND CHURCH WAS CONSTRUCTED ON LAND DONATED BY THE VAN VLECK SCHOOL DISTRICT. AUXILIARY FACILITIES WERE ADDED AS THE CONGREGATION GREW.

CONTINUING A LONG HISTORY OF SERVICE AND COMMUNITY OUTREACH, THE CHURCH WAS A SITE OF REFUGE DURING HURRICANE CARLA IN 1961. THE CHURCH REMAINS AN INTEGRAL PART OF THE AREA AS IT HAS FOR MORE THAN 130 YEARS.

(1997)


The early photo was taken from the 1968 Lincoln Southern District Association program and is courtesy of Johnnie Mae Thomas and Jerrilyn Capers.
 

 

Copyright 2004 - Present by Carol Sue Gibbs
All rights reserved

Created
Jan. 14, 2005
Updated
Nov. 30, 2010
   

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