Smith County, Texas
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By Opal Thompson (Mrs. Buck Thompson)
Now if you will turn back the pages of time twenty years, we will look into the past history of the Dixie Baptist Church. At that time there was no Baptist Church west of town except Dean and Concord that were further on west.
Many had felt the need of a Baptist Church in the community and many had a part but two people are outstanding and they are Mr. & Mrs. Coy Carlisle, who shouldered the responsibility and gave sacrificially of their time and labor and it is to them I give credit.
Sunday School was held in a three room house just west of Loggins store. On June 15, 1941, we met for the purpose of organizing a church. Other churches participating were First Church, East Tyler, Sam Houston, Calvery, Swan and Dover. Bro. Turner from Calvery was elected moderator and with twelve members we became the Dixie Baptist Church. The charter members were Mr. & Mrs. Coy Carlisle, Mr. & Mrs. L. B. McCallie, Mrs. Lee Walker, Mr. & Mrs. R. T. Clark and son Marvin, Mr. & Mrs. Buck Thompson and children James & Janelle. Grandma Walker was the oldest and Janelle Thompson the youngest member.
We continued having services in the little house with the children's classes in the yard in the shade of a tree. Bro. Beasley preached a number of times. God blessed our efforts and we planned a revival. We wanted in the Dixie community, so ground was secured from Shorty Rozell on the Dallas Highway. An old shed was there and a platform was built under it and the tent attached to the shed. Saw dust was put on the ground. The benches were made from 1 x 4's from Coats & McCain Lumber Company. In the mean time we had written the Seminary in Fort Worth to send us an evangelist to hold a revival meeting.
One Sunday morning in August we were expecting the evangelist when a little old A Model car stopped some distance away and a young couple came walking hand in hand up the hill. We wondered, "Could that be the evangelist?" Yes, it was Bro. Ingram with his bride of two weeks. They were little in stature but not in their work for the Lord. They were two wonderful people and loved by everyone who knew them. God gloriously blessed us that week. I remember Lucille Maxfield was the first to walk the saw dust isle for Christ with many others following. At the close of the meeting there were 42 letters and 19 for baptism making a total of 61. Oh glorious days that they were.
The following Sunday afternoon we had the baptisimg in a pond just back of our house on the Dallas Highway. It was a hot day in August, but the whole hillside was covered with people and there was all but shouting that afternoon when the 19 were baptised.
The church called Bro. Ingram for our pastor. I remember him saying "My first revival, my first baptising, my first pastorate to a church that has its first pastor - a wonderful experience."
Seven deacons were elected: Mr. H. Sivell, H. W. Ward, Buck Thompson, L. W. Lanie, W. F. Rozell, R. McCarty and B. F. McCollie. On December 7, 1941, we were having the ordaination service when the news came that Pearl Harbor had been attacked. The tent was our church for some time. In the summer we made ice cream and in the winter we stood around a stove made from an oil drum.
A building committee was appointed. The land was bought from Mr. Hill, a loan secured from the bank and the building was underway. It wasn't as easy as that sounds, because we were still small in number with a smaller pocket book. It was a big undertaking, but with much prayer, faith and work the building was finished. The benches were moved from the tent into this auditorium and on Wednesday night, March 4, 1942, we held our first service -a prayer meeting with 26 attending, but our work was not finished. We had no seats and felt our credit had been used, so we prayed that a way be opened. Excitement ran high when in a few weeks we learned the Liberty Theater was getting new seats and we could get the old ones cheap. They had to be repaired, but we are still using them. One week Bro. Ingram called from Fort Worth saying he had found a good piano for $150.00 and could we possibly raise the money now, because he could not hold it. That we did and a pick-up was sent to Fort Worth for our big grand piano we used until recently.
A dream had come true. A Baptist church in the Dixie community. From that time we have had seven pastors, Bro. Ingram, Bro. Day, Bro. Allen, Bro. Purvis, Bro. Grisby and Bro. Hammett and our present pastor Bro. Lafferty. Two pastors have served in foreign mission, Bro. and Mrs. Ingram in Nigeria, Africa and Bro. and Mrs. Hammett in Formosa. Two of our girls are preparing themselves for foreign missionaries and several men have surrendered for the ministry. A parsonage and an education building have been added to the church.
Now on our 20th Anniversary the church debt has been paid. Like a story my dad told - He had a patient named Ben Owden. One day he brought his money and said, "Doc, I have changed my name - from now on instead of Ben Owden I am Ben paid'em." Now the church of 20 years has served us well, but today it is inadequate for our needs. Never in history has our way of living changed so fast as it has in the last 20 years. We change and improve our homes, we have changed and built new schools, certainly we would want God's house to be as inviting. Then let us ask ouselves these questions, are we satisfied just to stand still, are we not ready to launch out for bigger and better things for God? Our answer is certainly we would not want to neglect God's house and certainly we want to do greater things for God; but how can we see our way clear to take on the responsibility of building a new church? We do well to meet our obligations now - maybe that is our answer - we are not supposed to see--could be our faith needs exercising. The very presence of this church proves that if there is a need, and it is for the glory of God and the people are willing, there will be a way. To do great things we must expect great things. So I expect to see you at our next homecoming in a beautiful new church and plenty of space for our Sunday School, a place for our young people and a place we can do great things for God and reach out in the fields that are white already.
Submitted by Norma Beddingfield, 12 Feb 2000.
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