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Our History1869 - 1889
Sherman, in 1869, was struggling under the Reconstruction era following the Civil War. With a population of only 500, it was an important North Texas town -- the site for the sale of cotton, vegetables, cattle, and buffalo hides.
During that year, First Baptist Church was organized under the direction of the Rev. R. C. Buckner, General Agent for the Home Missionary Board of the Baptist General Association. The Rev. T. B. McComb was the first pastor of the fledgling church whose members held their meetings in the Odd Fellows Hall on North Walnut Street.
By 1873, Texas had been re-admitted to the Union and the First Baptist congregation had grown enough to need a building of its own. The first church building was erected at the northeast corner of the Crockett-Pecan intersection and was said to have been a plain, one-room wooden structure that cost $3,200 to build.
A great fire destroyed the heart of Chicago in 1871. Another fire, closer to home, raged in the Sherman downtown business district on October 30, 1875, leaving in it's wake just a few buildings standing. In 1876, Austin College moved to Sherman from Huntsville.
Enthusiasm in the growing church was so contagious in 1887, that a mission was established in rapidly expanding east Sherman. Originally named Carpenter's Chapel after a previous pastor, it became an independent church in 1894 and is now known as East Sherman Baptist Church.
1889 - 1909
By 1889 the church had 245 members, and plans were being made for a new brick building which the congregation occupied in 1895. It had cost $14,133.42 to build. Worship there was short-lived, however, as the structure was plagued with structural problems even before it was finished.
A year after the church building was completed, the town was hit by a devastating tornado that killed 54 persons. May 15, 1896 would thereafter be known as Sherman's "Black Friday."
As early as 1903 the need for another chapel for the people in south Sherman was discussed, and by 1904, a Sunday School mission had been established. The South Side Chapel became a reality in 1905 with a new church building. The mission became the Forest Avenue Baptist Church on August 29, 1915.
Across town in the "Frisco neighborhood" of northeast Sherman, another mission effort began in 1904. By late 1909, a building was completed for the Frisco Mission which later became North Park Baptist Church.
The 1907-08 church expenses amounted to $3,358.87 with more than half going to foreign, state, and county missions. Several years earlier, in 1902, Mrs. S. E. Jones of the church organized the Associational Baptist Women's Missionary Union Auxiliary.
Revival meetings were frequently conducted with many outstanding Baptist Preachers in the pulpit through the years. Dr. George W. Truett,pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas for 44 years, preached his first sermon at a revival meeting in 1908 at First Baptist Church, Sherman.
1909 - 1929
On Monday evening, June 23, 1914, the cornerstone of the present sanctuary was laid. Dr. J. B. Gambrell, then editor of the Baptist Standard, was the main speaker for the ceremony. He said that a church should be like Christ, that it should be like the Bible -- plain, adequate. A year later, the sanctuary was completed as a shell, and services were held in the basement on the first Sunday in March. Church membership had reached 1,357 by September.
Elsewhere in Sherman, Austin College became co-educational in 1918. Also during that year, the church closed its doors for a month because of an epidemic of Spanish influenza that killed 548,000 Americans.
On October 24, 1920, services were held in the completed Sanctuary. The structure cost $142,725.82 to build, and it would be many years before air-conditioning was introduced.
The Baptist Young People's Union (BYPU) initiated the church library in 1921 by the collection of a special offering of $45. Miss Lucille Altman was librarian, and by 1925 the library had 200 books.
Some $35,000 remained as a debt against the main building when Pastor T. L. Holcomb preached an inspiring message to the congregation on December 26, 1922. In 35 minutes, $35,225 was raised to retire the debt.
1929 - 1949
In Sherman, 1930, a mob lynched a man, burned the courthouse, terrorized a neighborhood, and effectively destroyed a thriving Negro business district. The Depression struck and the church was in debt about $14,000. By the late 1930's the indebtedness was paid and the church began to accumulate funds for an educational building.
A 1934-35 church budget reported a budget of $16,785, with $4,196 allocated to missions and benevolences, more than the $3,600 paid to the pastor, Dr. J. A. Ellis.
America was in the midst of World War II in Europe by 1942, and First Baptist Church moved ahead with its plans for church expansion with the completion of a new three-story Educational Building. The building cost $47,000 and was dedicated in 1944. That year a new chapel, now Fairview Baptist Church, was established in northwest Sherman at Porter and Shannon Streets.
Fourteen church members died in the War that ended in 1945. In 1947, the church installed carillonic bells which were played daily at 6 p.m. in honor of all church members who served in WWII.
1949 - 1969
By 1954 the church established another mission, the Dewey Street Mission, that later became Crutchfield Heights Baptist Church. The church took action to provide transportation for those unable to attend services with the purchase of 2 buses in 1955. Attendance was 1,075 in Sunday School, 706 in training union on April 15, 1955.
The 1960's represented a decade of expansion for the church's physical plant. Under the Forward Plan of Church Finance, facilities were remodeled, a new educational building was added, a new sanctuary organ was purchased and parking facilities were developed.
In the April 6, 1962 edition of the First Baptist News, Pastor Dr. Darold H Morgan wrote the following:
"...Now it is our greater challenge to say this is but a means to an end - to reach people for Christ and to teach the things of the Lord. This we must never forget. New buildings, fine equipment, a lovely organ, a beautiful sanctuary stand as a hollow mockery to man's pride and selfishness unless they are but a channel through which men and women, boys and girls are led to see the wisdom of worshipping Almighty God and serving Him where grace and love made life worth living."
The church's local mission efforts were enhanced in 1966 with the start of regular broadcasts of Sunday worship services through the Television Ministry.
1970 - 1990
The Church began its second century of service with a budget of $234,085.40 for 1970. The church staff was enlarged to four full-time ministers in 1971, and senior members of the church gathered at Fairview Park for the first meeting of the Triple L Club.
The church's support of mission endeavors continued through the W.M.U., G.A.'s and R. A.'s. Support of foreign missionaries was nothing new for the church whose mission organizations helped sponsor missionaries like Dave and Karen Horsey, Preston and Audie Bennett, Carroll and Jackie Shaw and James and Mary Giles.
The "Together We Build" stewardship program began for building the Family Life Center in 1978. The building was dedicated, debt-free, on December 13, 1981.
The decade of the eighties brought a renewed vision for local missions work with the establishment of the Korean Chapel, the Deaf Community Chapel, the American Indian Mission and other Bible study groups, including the Grayson County Jail, throughout the city.
A ministry through music to the entire community began in 1982 with the Music Ministry's presentation of the annual Sherman Christmas Pageant.
For the first time in its history, the church adopted a budget of over $1-million in 1985. Dr. Tom Brandon celebrated his 25th anniversary as pastor in 1988, making him the longest tenured pastor in First Baptist history.
1990 - Present
In recent years, First Baptist has continued to grow and reach out to the community. In 1995, the church began serving children through affiliation with AWANA Clubs International. AWANA meets weekly during the school year and serves over 100 children age 3 through 6th grade.
Another new ministry seeks to reach the local Hispanic community. The Iglesia Bautista Camino Real began as a mission and grew quickly, breaking ground on their own building in early 1997.
Pastors of First Baptist Church
|1869 - 1870||Thomas Benton McComb|
|1872 - 1874||Rev. L. R. Scruggs|
|1875 - 1877||Dr. John C. Carpenter|
|1878 (3 mos.)||George W. Rogers|
|1878 - 1879||Samuel A. Goodwin|
|1880 - 1882||Jeremiah H. Cason|
|1884 - 1886||George W. Rogers|
|1886 - 1897||Dr. J. A. Ivey|
|1898 - 1901||Dr. John W. Gillon|
|1902 - 1915||Dr. Forrest Smith|
|1916 - 1921||Dr. Fred F. Brown|
|1921 - 1928||Dr. Thomas L. Holcomb|
|1929 - 1951||Dr. J. A. Ellis|
|1951 - 1957||W. Landon Miller|
|1958 - 1962||Dr. Darold H. Morgan|
|1963 - 1990||Dr. Tom S. Brandon|
|1991 - 1994||Dr. Stan W. Fornea|
|1995 - 1997||Dr. Howard McNamara|
|1998 - Present||Dr. Michael L. Lawson|