History of Hopewell Baptist Church
Hopewell, Navarro County, Texas


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History of Hopewell Baptist Church

Hopewell Baptist Church was organized Aug 2, 1866, with ten charter members.   They were Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Meador, Mr. and Mrs. H. R. Puryear, Mr. and Mrs. Jeff Tate, Mrs. E. D. Bright, Mrs. E. C. Bright, Mrs. E. A. Meador, and Mrs. Sarah McDonnell.   The Council for the organizational meetings consisted of Elders C. J. Teas, J. Taylor and H. R. Puryear.

The first regular services were the third Saturday and Sunday in August, 1866, and the meeting was protracted for several days.  During the protracted meeting fifteen members were added to the church.

The first business meeting of the church was held on Monday, August 30, 1866.   Mr. S. D. Bright was elected the first church clerk. At this meeting Messrs, J. T. Darden, Thomas Meador and Jeff Tate were elected as Deacons.  Delegates were elected to attend the Richland Association, the delegates being Messrs. H. R. Puryear, G. W. Boyd and Thomas Meador.  The name "Hopewell Church" was adopted at this first business meeting.

The church selected its first Pastor at its meeting on the third Saturday in September 1866, naming Brother H. R. Puryear, one of the charter members, as the Pastor.   Brother Puryear served the church as Pastor for several years.

The early years of the church coincided with the very difficult times experienced by the people of Texas and the South as they struggled to overcome the effects of the Civil War.  However, the church began plans for a building and entertained plans for a school.  Apparently, a school was to be established within the Richland Association and the church offered their building, when it was completed, for use of the school until better arrangements could be made for the school.  In their offer to the Association they made these comments regarding their church, their people and the area:

"We as a church and community will use every exertion in our power to promote the interest of the school and we can say that ours is a healthy locality, settled by liberal hearted citizens and will perhaps afford as many facilities for such a school as any location in our association."

Nothing in the church records mention any further action regarding the school, but in the summer of 1867 the church purchased three acres of land for $3.00 per acre from Widow Stroder as a site for the church.  The site selected was adjacent to the present Hopewell Cemetery, however, the cemetery probably was not in existence at that time.

The records of the church indicate that from the beginning and continuing for many years, the members were strong believers in church discipline and the upholding of that portion of their Church Covenant.  In May and again in June 1867 the church exercised discipline for the first times and excluded two of its members.  The exercise of discipline was to be repeated many, many times in the ensuring years.

Apparently in the early years before a building was erected the services were held in the homes of the members.  The minutes do not reflect the locations, except that in November 1867, mention is made that the meeting place was changed from the "present place" to the home of Thomas Meador.  The Thomas Meador home was built in the early 1860's.  Later it was the home of W. E. and Ida McCarter and presently is the home of Mrs. Julia McCarter Stalter.  Though the other locations are not mentioned, it is doubtful if any of the other homes remain today.

Mention is made in the minutes of the hauling of the lumber for the church building and by November 1868 the building was completed and "held by the workmen until paid for."  The cost of the building is not mentioned but it was stated in the minutes for January 1869 an amount of $180.00 had been subscribed to pay for the church house.  This probably was in connection with the erection of the building with the materials previously having been paid for separately.

In January 1869 services were held in the new building for the first time on the third Lord's Day of that month.

After having paid for the new building, the church apparently had very few financial needs.  The records note that in January 1870 they had $3.70 in the treasury and by May the amount had increased to $4.95.  At that time they voted to purchase a Bible and hymn book for the stand with the $4.95.  In July the Bible for the pulpit was presented, which cost $4.50, leaving a balance of 45 cents in the treasury.   They received 50 cents in July, 65 cents in October, $1.00 in November, 80 cents in January 1871, 70 cents in February, $1.75 in March, which increased the amount in the treasury to $5.85.  In August they sent $2.50 to the Association for printing the minutes and in September paid the Pastor $2.20, leaving a balance of $1.15.  In this period of twenty-one months they had collected $6.65 and paid out $9.20.

In November 1906 the church voted to move the building from its original location to Navarro.  The railroad was being extended south from Corsicana and a townsite for Navarro had been laid out.  The church was moved to Navarro in 1907 and located near its present location.  The church was one of the first buildings in Navarro.  Brother R. C. A. Ashcraft was the Pastor at this time.

The church organized a Sunday School in February 1915.  Mr. T. A. Pascal was the first Sunday School Superintendent.  Brother W. M. Kalton was Pastor when the Sunday School was organized.

In May 1939 the church building was damaged by a windstorm.  During the year the building was torn down and rebuilt and in October 1939 the first service was held in the new building.  This is the same building that stands today.  Though the building was rebuilt in 1939 most of the materials used were from the old building, and thus were from the first building erected in 1860.

On the fourth Sunday in July 1940 the church observed a Dedication Day service and homecoming.  Brother G. C. Henry was the Pastor at this time.  Brother Obie Barton Conducted a revival for the church and twenty-five members were added to the church.  Also Brother Barton conducted the revival in the years 1941 and 1942, with twenty-three members added in 1941 and thirty-five members added in 1942.

The peak membership of the church appears to have been in the periods from 1895 to 1900 and 1939 to 1942, with the peak membership being approximately 130.  The exodus of people from this area has had its effect on the membership, which is now approximately fifty.

The church has had at least twenty-eight different pastors.  Brother W. F. Harvard probably pastored the church for the longest period of time, having served as pastor for about fifteen years.  For many years the church had only part time services, usually on one week-end during the month, but has had a full time pastor since 1947.

The church has endured the first 100 years and has touched the lives of many present and former residents of this area.  The gospel has been preached and souls have been saved and added to the Kingdom.  Through its efforts, we believe this has been a better place.

 


Navarro County TXGenWeb
Copyright March, 2009
Edward L. Williams & Barbara Knox