First Baptist Church
Coleman, Texas
by First Baptist Church Historical Committee: Mary Sue Collins, Mrs. J. M. Duncan, Mrs. Fred Garrett and Flora Dee Daughtry - 
from the centennial observation booklet

from A History of Coleman County and Its People, 1985 
edited by Judia and Ralph Terry, and Vena Bob Gates - used by permission

The Coleman Baptist Church of Christ organized at Coleman on January 27, 1877 with the following brothers and sisters: Elder J. C. Averett, Henry F. Averett, Elder W. C. Gates, Henry Paddleford, W. A. Savage, James Stephens, C. N. Blair, Helen A. Averett, Annie J. Averett, MaryJ. Gates, Adelia C. Paddleford, Amanda F. Savage, C. N. Blair, Elizabeth Garrett, C. A. Stephens, and Emily Sinclair.  It is said that Averett organized the church and was elected as pastor.  This record was found in the old church book.  Some pages are missing in the front of the book.  The minutes of the next month’s meeting were:  “The members of Coleman Baptist Church of Christ worshipping at Coleman, met in Conference on Saturday before the 4th Lord’s Day in February.  Preaching by Elder John C. Averett.  Visiting brethren invited to seats with us and the doors of the church opened for the reception of members and right hand of fellowship extended to the members of Coleman church commune every quarter commencing on the 4th Lord’s Day in March and that the church accept the books presented by Bro. Gates as a church book.  No further business, conference adjourned.  Preaching the following day by Elder J. C. Averett.”

Records show that Henry Paddleford was the first deacon elected by the church in 1878.  L. F. Collins came to Coleman in 1876, but did not become a member of the church until he was converted in a meeting held by Dr. J. D. Robnett in 1886.  Mr. Collins was ordained as a deacon in May, 1887 and was elected chairman of the deacons when they began having officers in the early years and served in that capacity until his death in 1943.

As is the case in most of the older churches, the records are rather incomplete in the early days of First Baptist Church.  The old minutes of Pecan Valley Association in its second session held at Lone Oak Church in Brown County on September 14 and 15, 1877, show that the Coleman church joined at that meeting by petitionary letter and was represented by Elder J. C. Averett as messenger.  Elder Averett was elected moderator of the association and selected to preach the introductory sermon the next year.  For the first twelve years of the life of the church its meetings were held in different buildings, first in the “Rawhide Courthouse” and then in the upper story of a building over a store and then in the Presbyterian building.  In August, 1879, the pastor was authorized to appoint men to select a suitable site for a building.

On February 2, 1885, the church purchased the lots and material of the Presbyterian building, which had been blown down in a tornado.  When the storm was over the lectern was still standing with an open Bible on it.  It is believed that this lot was on the northeast corner of West Elm and South Neches Streets.  February 28, 1886, J. F. Gordon, H. C. Pinkston, and B. F. Rose were appointed to solicit funds for the erection of a building.  In March, the male membership of the church were made building committee with instructions to proceed at once.  Nothing else shows up in the records until November 27, 1886, when the church voted to repair the church seats and loan them to the Southern Presbyterians for an indefinite time.  Then on January 22, 1887, the church voted to accept the invitation from the Southern Presbyterians to worship in their house when completed.

The next reference to building was on November 2,1888, when the church decided to build.  The following committees were appointed: to purchase lot: T. J. White, H. A. Halbert, and T. H. Strong; to solicit funds: J. F. Gordon, B. F. Rose, and W. A. Foster; building committee: L. F. Collins, J. F. Gordon, Amos S. Davis, J. R. Chadwell, and W. C. Perry.  On November 28 of the same year Lot No. 3 in Block 12 was purchased.  On December 22, 1888 the trustees reported that they had sold the south half of a block in Clow Addition for $325.00 and had paid off some debts incurred in building the parsonage.

Next reference to a building was on June 9, 1889, when the minutes read: “Coleman Baptist Church met for the purpose of dedicating the church building.  The dedicatory sermon was preached by Elder J. H. Boyett.”  This was during the pastorate of Moss Martin and was the first building for the church.  It was located where the present auditorium is located and faced west on Colorado Street.

These interesting facts are taken from old church records: May, 1903, electric lights were installed.  In 1907, a committee was appointed to repair hitching posts on north and south sides of the building.  June 7, 1916, the name was changed from Coleman Baptist Church of Christ to First Baptist Church.

Coleman Baptist Church - 1889

The present auditorium was erected in 1915 while Rev. J. J. Kellam was pastor.  At a little later date a Pilcher and Son pipe organ was installed.  In 1927, during the pastorate of Rev. C. F. Lancaster, the three story educational building was erected.

First Baptist Church, with first education building on left - 1950

 Moss Martin Cottage, former parsonage - 1950

At the same time a parsonage was also built on the east side of the church lot.  In 1946, when Rev. T. Lynn Stewart was pastor, the education building was connected with the auditorium, with the new addition housing the Church Library, organized by Rev, and Mrs. Stewart, and several Sunday School departments.

While Rev. R. F. Streetman was pastor the auditorium was remodeled and the entire plant redecorated and air conditioned.  This was in 1953-1954.

During the pastorate of M. Ted Cotten in 1959 a beautiful parsonage was built on Austin Street and the former parsonage was used to house a Sunday School department.  This house was named Moss Martin Cottage in honor of the early pastor of the church.

In April of 1970 the whole block, with the exception of one residential lot, was bought.  Under the leadership of Rev. Bill Merritt, plans were made for the construction of Phase I of a new educational plant.  On December 17, 1972 ground was broken for the new educational building and fellowship hall and the cornerstone was laid July 1973 upon completion of the building.  In 1974, the auditorium was renovated, redecorated and carpeted, following the collapse of the ceiling, which luckily happened during the night when there was no one in the building.  Outside trim was also painted during this time.  January 8, 1975 a church bus was purchased and a bus ministry was begun.  The church cabin at the Heart of Texas Baptist Encampment grounds on Lake Brownwood was donated to the camp in 1975.  In November 1975, lots across the street north of the church were purchased for parking.

First Baptist Church Fellowship Hall - 1984

A building committee was elected in June 1978 to begin plans for Phase II of the building program.  In April, 1979, the church adopted the “Together We Build” program and Louis Drake was hired as architect.  In February, 1980, all Sunday School departments and church offices were moved from the three story education building which had been erected in 1927 and demolition of the building started.  Moss Martin Cottage was moved in April, 1980, and demolition work was completed in July. On July 27, ground breaking ceremonies were held and construction was begun.  Building was completed in June of 1981 and dedication services were held June 21, 1981.

First Baptist Church, with new education building at left and Fellowship Hall at right (rear) - 1984

Many members of our church have heard and responded to the call of God to special service as preachers, music and education directors, missionaries, denominational workers.  The historical committee has sought to list these people who have been members of our church and gone out to serve in a special way: Letha Saunders, Cyrus Sewell, Dr. Roy McCulloch, Marylea Henderson Wood, Carolyn McClellan, Kenneth Kelley, Lloyd Corder, Clyde Kelley, Lee Hemphill, Virginia Adian, J. D. Cox, Jr., Jimmie Hamilton and Sara Ann Strickland Kocher.  Miss Cecile Lancaster, missionary to China and Miss Elizabeth Truly, missionary to Nigeria, were at one time members of our church.  Letha Saunders and Blanche Simpson, missionaries to Brazil have been a blessing to our church in recent years.  Miss Simpson passed away in January, 1983.

Pastors who have served the First Baptist Church are:  John C. Averett, January 27, 1877; T. H. Lydstrom, December 1877; R. L. Baker, July 1878; D. M. Matthews, August 1881; J. D. Robnett, November 1883; R. A. Sublett, June 1886 (1 month); J. D. Robnett, August 1886; Moss Martin, September 1888; A. J. Tant, April 1890; R. F. Stokes, May 1891; J. B. Permenter, April 1895; J. R. Cason, May 1896; D. H. LeSueur, July 1897; W. S. Maddox, October 1889; C. C. Howard, August 1901; W. B. Holland, August 1904; J. D. Allen, November 1906; J. J. Kellam, March 1910; F. E. Dawson, July 1919; W. Y. Pond, January 1922; F. F. Dawson, May 1923; C. F. Lancaster, April 1925; P. F. Squyres, September 1930; O. L. Savage, December 1934; Floyd Chaffin, December 1938; T. Lynn Stewart, July 1943; Levi Price, April 1948; R. F. Steetman, July 1951; M. Ted Cotten, May 1958; Lester O. Probst, October 1960; Horace Crowder, April 1966; Bill Merritt, June 1968, and Gary K. Boyd, August 1, 1977 to the present.  Roger Hammonds was called as full time Associate pastor and began his work early in 1979.

On April 24, 1887, it was decided to organize a Sunday School on the following Sunday to meet in the afternoon provided there were no conflicts with other denominations.  Bro. Halbert was elected superintendent and Bro. Collins was elected assistant.  There are no records as to early enrollment in the Sunday School, but in 1977, it had grown to 707, with 12 departments and a Pastor’s Auditorium Class.  During the forties enrollment reached over the 900 mark with average attendance nearing 500.  This was during World War II and “boom” days.  Other departments of church work grew correspondingly.

Sister Edna Collins (sister of L. F. Collins and later married Marcoot) was elected organist on August 10, 1893.  The pipe organ was installed in 1917.  Mrs. J. M. Sewell was organist.  Since that time, Mrs. Adele Adams, Miss Will Gideon, and Flora Dee Daughtry have served as organists.  There is no record of early choir directors, but during the period between 1915 and the late thirties, there were at least 3 women directors, one of which was Mrs. Ethel Nance, a daughter of Rev. Moss Martin.  The first paid music and education director was John H. Gary, who began his work January 31, 1926.

On March 10, 1898, a Baptist Young People’s Union (B. Y. P. U.) was organized.  The women are always interested in the work of the church and we find this record dated July 16, 1886: “The ladies of the Baptist Church met for the purpose of organizing a Society (for the benefit of the church fund.)  Organized with twelve members, this society was called Baptist Helpers and continued through 1886 and 1887 with members busy with the project of raising money for the church building.  From July 1887 until August 1891, there seems to have been no active society, but an “Aid Society” was organized on August 3, 1891.  In 1893, the society was again called “Baptist Helpers.”  Money was raised by giving suppers, ice cream festivals, and entertainments. 
The ladies approved the suggestion that they use their money to buy a lot adjoining the church with the view of building a parsonage.  The record in the church minutes is as follows: “The Baptist Church of Christ at Coleman sat in conference after 7:30 services.  It was voted by the church that we borrow $100.00 from the Ladies Aid Society to buy a certain lot lying just east of the church building.”  One writer makes this comment: “Did the ladies offer to make the loan or did the brethren just conscript it, and did they ever pay it back?”  (The parsonage was built in 1902-1903.)  There are no records of a society from 1892 until November 1896, when a group of ladies met again and reorganized.  One of the projects of 1897 was to raise money to help pay on the church organ.  (Not the pipe organ.)  They also paid for building a fence around the church yard, carpeted the aisles and put in stained glass windows to match the memorial window.

The goal for 1927 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering was set at $800.00, a missionary’s salary for one year.  Each circle member pledged to keep a cent-a-day jar for this offering.  In 1946, a new Mission Action project was introduced by Mrs. T. C. Hart - A Ready to Wear Room for the needy.  Another project for the year was making baptismal robes.  Two ministerial students, J. D. Cox and Jimmie Hamilton, were adopted.  In 1954 the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for Foreign Missions was $3,506.89, the highest received to that time.  In 1976, the offering reached $3,818.79.  In accordance with Southern Baptist WMU policy, new terms and new plans of work were adopted in 1970.  W. M. S. became Baptist Woman, V. W. A. and older C. A’s became Acteens. Younger C. A.’s and older Sunbeam girls are now Girls in Action and younger Sunbeams are Mission Friends.  All boys from 1st grade through high school are Royal Ambassadors, which had been transferred to Brotherhood direction some years previously.  Youth organizations have always been a major concern of W. M. U. and Mrs. J. M. Duncan was C. A. Director for many years.  The Girl’s Auxiliary organizations have been a part of W. M. U. work in the church since the 1920’s, but a record of the work has been kept since 1962.  During the Week of Prayer for Foreign Missions in 1976, a very colorful and inspirational Parade of Nations was held when flags of the more than 80 countries where 2700 Southern Baptist missionaries serve were presented.  Lottie Moon Christmas Offering goal for 1976 was set at $4,034.00.

Some of the other deacons of the church: Donald Baird, Bill Barsch, Jack Baucom, E.B. Blackwell, C. F. Blanton, Seth Burkett, Dewey Cason, Alfred Chambers, Arvel Cullins, B. J. Deal, A. F. Dodson, Dennis Gaines, Richard Garner, Fred Garrett, W. T. Graves, Jim Guthrie, Wade Hemphill, Truett Hipsher, Don Howard, Artie Irby, Robert Jameson, J. T. Laird, W. A. Lengefeld, D. F. Loveless, Raymond Mathis, J. F. May, Jerry May, Herman Mercer, F. L. Miller, R. B. McHorse, Tom Newman, Gordon Pearce, Robert Pearson, Harold Phillips, Otis Powers, Pete Simmons, Bill Sneed, Fred Sparks, I. R. Wagnon, Win. M. Wheat and Roy Winburne.


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This page updated August 22, 2004
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