First Baptist Church
First Baptist Church
When the Baptist church was organized in Grapeland there were very few Baptists. Services were led by Dr. F.C. Woodard in the upper story of the old school building.
In 1889, Brother H.F. Harris conducted services for 34 members under a brush arbor beside the little schoolhouse.
Amid all hardships the little church kept growing until 1909. The members planned and started the new church building. The three most faithful members through all this time were Dr. Woodard, Mrs. Jim Leaverton, and Mrs. Henry Leaverton. They had great influence over the other workers and were the greatest cause of the new building. In the summer of 1911, the membership had grown to 85 members. Sunday School Superintendent was Mr. W.D. Granberry, Mr. T.S. Kent was assistant Superintendent, and Mr. C.L. Haltom was collector.
It was in July 1915 that one of our best workers and teachers was taken away by death, Mrs. Jim Leaverton. The church felt keenly the loss of this faithful member.
Brother S.W. Edge was the pastor for several years and under his direction the congregation grew to approximately 105 members.
For the next few years there were several preachers that helped with the spiritual and physical growth of the church. Until 1918, they had services only once a month, but after that date, they began having services on the first and third Sundays. New seats and lights were purchased during this time. There were 164 members.
Late in 1920, a new pastor was again called, Brother Fred J. Newland. He only served one year. He was a young unmarried man, not very serious except in the church house. But he was a really good pastor and had a good influence over the church.
In 1923 the church had no pastor for a short time. There were 220 members now enrolled in the church.
Until 1924, Grapeland Baptist Church had no parsonage. So the half-time pastor at Lovelady was also half-time pastor at Grapeland. He lived at Lovelady since that church had a parsonage. In that year, the Grapeland Baptist Church bought the home of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Richards — at the parsonage’s present location on Myrtle and Orange. Brother McCall and his family were the first to live there.
Following Brother McCall was Reverend Walter R. Tubbs. During his pastorate an annex and the baptistry were added to the church building which stood intact until completely destroyed by fire June 19, 1948. The present church building was completed in December of 1949.
During the months without a building, the Baptists again met in the public-school facilities.
Pastors following Brother Tubbs were Charles Simpson, T.F. Lott, Kenneth Hiner, Walter Floyd, Carl E. Greer, W.E. Vaughan, J.A. Haley, Scott Turner, Don Allen, Bland Kerby, J.T. Riley, Charles H. Haley, Kenneth Mobley, and the present pastor, Wesley Johnson.