Smith County, Texas

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Homecoming October 19, 1997

The First Baptist Church, Gresham had its beginning at an organizational meeting held on October 20, 1912 at the Gresham School House. Brother Ed Ray of Rusk, Texas was elected moderator protem and the following twelve were noted as Charter Members:

Mr. and Mrs.(Maude) C. 0 Shelton
Mr. W. P. Little (First Deacon)
Mr. and Mrs. (Bettie) Sledge Smith
Mrs. Hallie Wilkerson
Mr. and Mrs. M. Bishop
Mr. and Mrs. (Lena) Lloyd Smith
Mr. and Mrs. (Rena) D. W. Loggins

The members adopted the Articles of Faith and agreed to join the Smith County Baptist Association as soon as possible Bro. C. 0. Shelton was elected Church Clerk but the matter of a pastor was deferred to a later date. The church met in the School House, which is still located just north of the present Church Building.

Rev. Sam West was called and he became pastor on June 29, 1913. The first revival of the Church began on the fourth Sunday of July, 1913 with Rev. West preaching. The next Sunday Bro. J. J. Strickland came and assisted. There were nine candidates for baptism, three came by letter and three by statement, increasing the membership by 15.

The Church called their pastors each year. On September 6, 1914, Bro. J. J. Strickland was called as pastor and he accepted, only to resign on November 1, 1914. Bro. J. R. Rozell was called January 3, 1915. He accepted and on March 14, 1915 three additional deacons were added to the one already serving: Bro. D. W. Loggins, A. F. Ward and E. S. Barton were appointed to serve with Bro W. P. Little, who was already ordained.

Sunday School was organized and met every Sunday, although preaching services were only held on the 1st and 3rd Sundays. In later years the preaching Sundays were changed to the 2nd and 4th Sundays. In October 1946, the Church hired it's first full time pastor,. Rev. Cecil Johnson. He resigned to serve as a foreign Missionary in 1949.

In 1921 First Baptist Church, Gresham built its first building, a six room frame. On December 19, 1945, during the ministry of Rev. Henry Johnson, this frame building burned down and the church met in the Gresham Club House until a brick replacement could be completed in 1946.

A white frame parsonage was built in the latter part of 1950, one-half mile north of the present Church building. Bro. Bill Ratliff was the first pastor to live in it. Land for the parsonage was donated by Mr. and Mrs. Henry Moore.

The church ordained a number of deacons through the years. On December 27, 1953, Bro. Milton Pledger, was licensed and ordained to preach. A short time after this, he was called to pastor the Harris Creek Baptist Church.

First Baptist Church, Gresham has always given to the Cooperative Program and the Smith County Baptist Associational Missions.

Rev. Lester L. Morriss was pastor from October 1939 to 1941. He later served as Director of Christian Education Coordinating Board of the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

Rev. R. A. Crawford, (1941-42) feeling there was a great opportunity to reach men for Christ in the Armed Forces, enlisted in the Army. He was reported missing in action on a mission over Germany and later was reported killed in action April 5, 1945. When home on furlough in June 1944, he said, "If you hear I have gone down over there, it will be all right with Bob Crawford". Of him it can truly be said. "To live is Christ and to die is gain." Phil.l:21. And "Absent from the body and present with the Lord." II Cor.5:8.

In 1965 under the ministry of W. B. Smith, Jr. the Church improvements were new carpeting, baptistry drapes, tiled foyer, central heat and air conditioning, natural gas in the church and parsonage at a cost of about $3,000. The church was debt free at the time of Rev. Smith's resignation. He took a position at Buckner Orphanage in Dallas.

Improvements were also made under the guidance of Rev. Kenneth Cauthen, consisting of sandblasting the outside of the church, water in church and parsonage, paneling auditorium and tile on floor, drapes and new pews at an approximate cost of $5,300. A new piano and organ were purchased and an additional acre of land.

Under the ministry of Bro. Kenneth Clayton a new fellowship hall was built south of the church at a cost of$15,000 and the first fellowship in it was Thanksgiving Supper in November, 1973.



1974 Rev. Roy Thoene came as pastor in February. In his first year the back roof of the Fellowship Hall was put in and this area was made into a Sunday School classroom. A sidewalk was put from the Church to the Fellowship Hall. The church auditorium was carpeted.

Mission Trip was made to Port Mansfield Bay in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Bible School was conducted in the morning and work remodeling the Church in the afternoon. At night a tent revival was held with Bro. Craig Little preaching and Bob Mayfield, our Youth Director, leading the singing. Seventeen youth from our church participated in this mission work.

1975 In the summer another mission trip was taken to the Valley. Participants stayed at Wood Avenue Baptist Church in Raymondville, Texas and conducted Bible School at Port Mansfield Bay in the morning and Bible School at Raymondville in the afternoon. Joe Thigpen led in a revival at Port Mansfield with Bob Mayfield leading the singing and Bro. Roy Thoene preached at a revival at Raymondville and Dale Johnston led the singing.

In September of 1975 remodeling was done on the parsonage. The garage was closed in and made a pastor's office with bookshelves and carpet, the master bedroom was enlarged and a bath added to it, carpet was put in the bedroom and hall, central heat and air conditioning was installed at a cost of $9,OOO. In March 1976 this was paid in full. First Baptist Church, Gresham received an award from the Baptist General Convention of Texas for Outstanding Achievement in Sunday School.

1976 In March, new drapes were added to the Auditorium. In May, the church voted to carpet the halls of the Educational Building, Nursery, Library and two Sunday School rooms at a cost of $1,200 which was paid in cash. In June, the Church voted to build an Education Wing and do some remodeling at a cost of $12,000. The men of the Church met every Monday and Saturday to work on this project and saved the Church several thousand dollars. Several of the ladies donated a few hours of their time to come and help paint.

First Baptist Church, Gresham received an award from the Baptist General Convention of Texas for Outstanding Achievement towards a better Church.

1981 A 14' x 36' three room portable building was given to the Church. It was moved in behind the Old Educational Building, with sidewalk and awning, and is used for Sunday School rooms. Also a metal storage building was installed to be used for Janitorial supplies and yard tools.

1982 On January 17, Boyd Tatum was called as Minister of Music. The Gresham School House was donated to the Church by Maurice and Hope Smith. It was remodeled throughout with carpet, paint, cabinets, and the bathroom was rebuilt. This building is being used at Parsonage #2 for staff housing. Byron Jones was called in October as Education Director. He resigned in September, 1985 after three years faithful service to become pastor of First Baptist Church, Gun Barrel City.

1984 On February 19, ground-breaking ceremony was held for the enlargement and renovation of the Church Sanctuary.

1985 In the summer a beautiflil Prayer Garden was put in just southwest of the Fellowship Hall. The Garden was dedicated to the glory of God on September 15, 1985. Bro. Bill Baldridge was called as Youth Director on September 8. During the summer more remodeling was done to bathrooms and fixtures with Bro. Ashcraft donating materials.

1986 Mission trip to Brownsville, Texas to do Bible School and remodel their mission. Moved in a mobile home at First Baptist Church, Gresham for additional sunday school rooms.

1991 Added the church ministry of Meals on Wheels for homebound people of the community.

1992 Buster Brady led the men of our church in remodeling the Fellowship Hall, adding paneling throughout and ceramic tile on the floor. The ladies of the church furnished the working men with lunch each day. Also, the children of Lon and Bess Arnold donated the stained glass window. Ashcraft Marble donated all marble for signs for sunday school rooms and the prayer garden.

1993 Remodeled the Church Office and the Pastor's Study.

1995 Mission trip to Port Isabel for backyard Bible School and remodeled the church there.

1996 Test Your Talents - Each person that participated received $10.00 and using their talents were to see how much money they could generate from that $10.00. The Gathering-In amounted to over $14,000.00 which paid off all obligations of the church.

1997 Completely remodeled all the educational wing of our church, added a Welcome Center, Bathrooms and Workroom. Also moved and remodeled the Library and moved the Church and Pastor's offices; all under the supervision of Jim Fancher, Architect and Dee Merritt, Contractor. Terry Arnold did all the electrical and Ashcrafi Marble flirnished all the marble. Many others donated their services, labor and time for this project.


Rev. Sam West  June 29, 1913 September 1914
Rev. J. J. Strickland  September 6, 1914 November 1, 1914
Rev. J. R. Rozell  January 1915  

 (No records of pastors after Bro. Rozell until 1921)

Rev. George Wilburn October 1921 June 1923
Rev. Fount Wallace  June 1923 November 1924
Rev. L. D. Hambrick November 1924 November 1925
Rev. H. H. Wallace 1925 1926
Rev. L. D. Kimberlay August 1927 January 1929
Rev. W. L. (Bill) Shuttlesworth August 1929 November 1933
Rev. C. J. Youngblood  January 1934 October 1935
Rev. J. E. McDermett October 1935 September 1936
Rev. A. W. Colthorpe September 1936 1937

 (No records for 1938)
Rev. Lester L. Morris October 1939 1941
Rev. R. A. Crawford 1941 1942
Rev. A. B. Lightfoot 1942 (one month) 1942
Rev. Bill Beacham 1943 August 1944
Rev. W. M. Strickland October 1944 June 1945
Rev. Henry Johnson June 1945 October 1946
Rev. Cecil Johnson October 1946 June 1949
Rev. L. V. Ratliff June 1949 June 1951
Rev. Bill Ratliff June 27, 1951 January 2, 1953
Rev. Walter Rose January 1953 October 1956
Rev. Chester Moss November 1956 November 11, 1963
Rev. W. B. Smith, Jr. January 1, 1964 July 3, 1966
Rev. Kenneth Cauthen October 1966 March 1972
Rev. Ken Clayton April 1972 December 1973
Rev. Roy Thoene February 1974 Present

Submitted by Norma Beddingfield, 12 Feb 2000.


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