First Baptist Church Alvarado History
The congregation of First Baptist Church of Alvarado has enjoyed a colorful and prosperous past over the last some 150 years. FOR THIS WE GIVE THANKS TO GOD!
As we enter the present in a beautiful new structure and a new location, we anticipate a challenge for wonderful and glorious growth, and FOR THIS WE GIVE THANKS TO GOD! The church was officially organized on October 6, 1861, but it is the belief of some that Baptists were meeting for several years prior to that date. First Baptist Church has had several names over the years – some are: Baptist Church of Christ at Alvarado, First Missionary Baptist Church of Alvarado, First Baptist Church of Alvarado.
First Baptist Church was organized in the Old Union Building which was located near what is now known as Atchley and Cummings Streets. The Old Union Building was a two story building which housed the Masonic Lodge on the upper floor and the lower floor was used for the school. Four churches used the lower floor for church services – First Baptist Church, First Methodist Church, Cumberland Presbyterian and Christian Church alternated using the building for services.
Bro. William C. Gentry was elected pastor at the time of organization. At that time, pastors were elected to serve only one year. William B. Senter was elected to be pastor in 1862. William Jack was elected for 1863. In 1864, William B. Senter was selected as pastor again. Henry C. Renfro was selected in 1866- after which James R. Kelley was called for full time service in 1872.
On February 28, 1874, the church purchased a lot east of the cemetery for the purpose of constructing a building to house First Baptist Church. A brick building was erected and occupied by the church in 1877. There were seven organized Sunday School Classes at First Baptist Church in 1896. According to Ned Clayton, deceased, a new building was constructed in 1900. The roof of the brick building was jacked up, brick walls torn out, new frame walls erected, and the roof put back into place.
The Fiftieth Annual Session of The Alvarado Baptist Association was held in Alvarado September 17, 1914. The anniversary sermon was preached by Rev. George W. Truett of Dallas. His sermon topic was from Exodus 33:14, 15 entitled “The Presence of God with His People.”
The largest crowd ever assembled at First Baptist Church was on February 8, 1924 for the funeral of Louise Lawson, actress and musician, who was found slain in her apartment overlooking Central Park in New York City.
In 1953 the church called Rev. Sammy DeBord to be the pastor. A position he held until 1956 when he and his wife, Terry, answered God’s call to serve as foreign missionaries in Tanganyika at the Baptist Seminary of East Africa.
Bro. Homer Peden, former pastor, spoke on April 9, 2000 in commemoration of his 50 years in the ministry. Bro. Peden and his wife, Jeanie were honored by members of First Baptist Church at a reception that afternoon. Many local as well as out of town people attended.
First Baptist Church organized a state licensed day care facility in July 1997. The day care facility is currently licensed for 130 children. International Sports Federation was birthed in Alvarado, Texas at First Baptist Church in 1993 by Cheryl Wolfinger.
On April 13, 2003 the first service was held in our beautiful new facilities – “THANKS BE TO GOD,” and may this place serve as a glorious tribute to our Lord and Savior, who made it all possible.
Rev. Wade Taylor preached his first sermon as pastor of First Baptist Church on April 9, 1995. He made the comment that he was blessed to serve as pastor to a wonderful group of believers and was grateful to call them his family. John Valentine, who has served as Minister of Education, commented that we must be thankful to those who established this church in 1861.
The congregation of First Baptist Church received a Historical Marker from the Texas Historical Commission and official dedication of that marker was held on November 6, 2004. To read a complete history of First Baptist Church compiled by Nelda Montgomery, please visit our church library.
Historical Marker Erected 2004