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First Baptist Church, Palestine

During Brother Sparkman's pastorate, the Ladies' Aid also flourished "like the green bay tree" with Mrs. T. W. Smith, now of Mississippi, as President. Another mission was also established on Green Street near Rusk School. Dr. D. M. Shepard was elected Superintendent of the Sunday School held there each Sunday afternoon, with Winton Davenport, secretary, and Mrs. D. M. Shepard, teacher. Mrs. Herman Schmidt was another ardent worker in this mission. About this time the B. Y. P. U. was organized, then the Junior B. Y. P. U. and Sunbeam Band. Later the adult B. Y. P. U. was added until hundreds made up the personnel of these various organizations—gradually developing into the Baptist Training School so powerful today in training for a consistent, fruitful Christian life. Rev. A. D. Sparkman in 1911, accepted a call to a church in Houston, Rev. R. L. Gillon of Tyler, coming to take his place. Church continued to grow, with S. S. Simmons, Superintendent of Sunday School, and Mrs. O. C. Cutter, President of Ladies' Aid. Church and Sunday School being very much crowded by now and agitation about building a new church, or at least an annex to old, growing acute, a church conference was held after services December 31, 1911, to further discuss the situation. Mr. J. C. Duncan was moderator. Suddenly the cry "Fire!" disturbed the meeting and almost before the dazed congregation realized it, they found themselves hustled to the street, while the firemen turned streams of water upon their church, from which flames and smoke poured. The question whether to build was thus decided.

The beautiful spirit of the churches was displayed in the emergency which now arose. The large Baptist congregation, deprived of a place to worship, was confronted by the offer of two temporary homes. Rev. Allen Crabtree, of the Congregational Church, and Dr. J. C. Oehler, of the Presbyterian, both brought heart warming invitations to come share their church homes. The Congregational Church was accepted, when the two pastors preached to both congregations alternately, and the two Sunday Schools were carried on separately in different parts of the Congregational Church building—an arrangement that worked so harmoniously that, when the time came to move to the City Hall for the interval before church could be built, it was with keenest pangs of regret—like those caused by separation from one's family. Prof. H. C. Jameson (President of a Business College) and "Uncle Ben" Rogers were "towers of strength" to the church in this crisis.

In 1912 the North Sycamore building was begun. Mr. Joe H. Green gave the first $100.00 to help purchase lot on which church stands. His daughter, Mrs. Iva Melton, is one of the most zealous members of the church today. The contract for the new church was awarded to Mr. L. G. McIntyre, a prominent contractor and active member of the church.

Continued

Location

31° 45' 43.632" N, 95° 37' 50.844" W