Katy’s First Baptist Church will be celebrating its 125th anniversary in November, according to church officials. “On November 19th, we will celebrate and glorify God regarding the great …
Katy’s First Baptist Church will be celebrating its 125th anniversary in November, according to church officials.
“On November 19th, we will celebrate and glorify God regarding the great heritage of Katy's First Baptist Church that 125 years of sacrifice and effort have made,” said church representative Bob Baldwin. “We want to recognize many of our predecessors through media and attendance. Dr. Wisdom, who was our pastor for 17 years (1985-2002), will be preaching on November 19th. Other previous staff will help with worship and prayers. We invite all previous members to come celebrate with us.”
The anniversary weekend celebration will also include:
· Saturday, November 18th - Family Fun Games and Drive in Movie Theatre, from 3:30 to 8:30 p.m.
· Sunday, November 19th - Worship Service at 10 a.m. with fellowship to follow
The church will start its next 125 years under the leadership of a new pastor. “We are very happy to announce that yesterday Katy's First Baptist called Dr. Rob Lyerly be our new Senior Pastor,” said Baldwin. “Dr. Lyerly (Pastor Rob) grew up in South Carolina and felt the call to be a pastor while playing professional baseball. Pastor Rob is committed to preaching the Gospel each week and doing his best to shepherd God's church at Katy's First.”
The congregation was founded in 1898, three years after the townsite of Katy was laid out and platted by J. O. Thomas, according to Preserving the Vision: The First 100 Years of the First Baptist Church of Katy. The book, published in 1998 by the historical subcommittee of the centennial committee of the church chronicles the first 100 years of the church’s history.
According to the book, a union Sunday school had been organized as early as 1895 or as late as 1898 – called “union” because it welcomed all denominations. Quakers, Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists and others met together, and the Baptist and Methodist groups were responsible for the services, which were conducted on alternate Sundays. Although the Baptists organized in 1898 under the name “Zion Baptist Church,” they had no building of their own and they began meeting in the local schoolhouse located at Avenue A and Sixth Street. After the 1900 storm destroyed the schoolhouse, services were hold in the Featherston and Morrison homes until the schoolhouse was rebuilt in 1901, and then in the Methodist Church after that building was completed in 1904. In 1907 the church voted to change its name to the Katy First Baptist Church. In April 1914 the Baptist church moved into their very own unfurnished building (built at a cost of $1,380.00) and organized a Baptist Sunday school.
During the twenties and thirties, the church grew steadily under the leadership of short-term pastors, most of who were half-time seminary students who served for $50.00 per month. During the pastorate of the Reverend N. Ray Harrel from 1936 to 1938, a two-story annex of classrooms was added to the church building and in 1936 the church purchased hymnals for use in its worship services. In 1939, the
church spent $1850.00 to purchase its first parsonage, a two-story frame building adjacent to the church at the corner of East Avenue and Third Street.
The first Vacation Bible School was conducted in the summer of 1941. But World War II brought change. The church continued its missionary efforts, taking up a special offering to send Bibles to the Russians. The Humble Katy Gas Plant went into operation in 1943 to provide wartime gasoline, bringing many newcomers to Katy. Through the encouragement of church leadership, many of these “outsiders” became new members and leaders in Katy Baptist Church. In 1946, the church voted to build a larger auditorium and educational space. In 1948, the name First Baptist Church of Katy was chosen by the members.
Continued growth in membership required additional expansion in the church plant and facilities and a parking lot was added in 1950 and an electric organ was purchased in 1953. In 1958 a new four-bedroom brick parsonage on East Avenue was built at a cost of $27,280.00 and the old parsonage was sold for $1000.00. In 1963 the church faced the difficult decision of building a new larger Worship Center or starting a new mission. The Katy Bible Church was formed as a result of this experience.
In June of 1974, the past practices of the pioneers were revisited, as the Baptist Church held a special evangelistic service at the Katy Methodist Church on Sunday night. The church met with all other denominations in the FVW Park for Sunday evening services on September 6, 1976.
In the spring of 1977, First Baptist Church of Katy began a Spanish Language Mission. This ministry evolved into a self-supporting church as the Primera Iglesia Bautista de Katy on Highway Boulevard. In 1986 a missionary effort resulted in the self-supporting church, Primera Iglesia Bautista de Brookshire.
Other missions started by the First Baptist Church of Katy include:
· First Baptist Church of Addicks in 1947
· First Baptist Church of Alief in 1953
· First Baptist Church of Pattison in 1987
· Christ the King Baptist Church in 1987
· Mision El Buen Pastor in 1990
· The Fellowship at Cinco Ranch in 1994
· New Vision Baptist Church (Katy) in 1997
A building committee was formed in 1980 and affirmed the membership’s desire to build a two-story Chistian Life Center, remodel the Worship Center, refurbish the older buildings, convert the fellowship hall into a chapel, and expand the office area to include a new pastor’s office. But space continued to be a problem and five portable buildings were purchased in 1981.
In 1985 a Long Range Planning Committee was reactivated and it struggled with the concept of relocation. In 1986 the committee presented a motion to find land for the church, which was overwhelmingly adopted. The church found 20 acres on Pin Oak Road at Roberts Street, which was purchased in 1993 for $450,000.00 and dedicated in 1994. A one campus relocation was approved in 1997.
In 1998, the church celebrated its 100th birthday. The new vision statement said, in part: “We will be intentionally involved in the lives of people in a changing metropolitan Katy who are in need of God’s restoration by focusing on large group worship, small group Bible study and need-based ministries.”
The church’s current ministries are:
· First Steps for preschool
· K1 Littles - Birth-PreK
· K1 Kids - K-5th grade
· K1 Youth - 6th-12th grade
· Women's Ministry
· Men's Ministry
· Sunday School
· Worship Band and Choir
· Home campus to Berean Christian Academy
The church also includes the following among its missions, according to the church website:
· Feed the Hunger
· Katy Christian Ministries
· Pregnancy Help Center
· American Chinese Fellowship
· Compassion International
Now with a membership of 366, the church faces new challenges as it looks toward its next 125 years.
“The biggest challenge facing the church in Katy today is living and ministering in an American culture that is growing more hostile to biblical truth,” Baldwin said. “While opposition to the gospel is not rare in church history, we must be aware that the dynamic of our era has changed over the last few decades.”
“The next 25 years are solely in the Lord's hands,” Baldwin continued. “But, we will strive, by His grace, to be faithful in every capacity. We will endeavor to remain steadfast on the unchanging standard of Scripture, be zealous in love and good works, and live each day for God's glory.”
[family shot – photo courtesy Katy’s First Baptist Church]
Dr. Rob Lyerly will join Katy’s First Baptist Church as the new senior pastor.
[old building shot – photo courtesy Linda Craft]
One of several locations for Katy’s First Baptist Church was this building at East Avenue and Third Street.
[aerial shot – photo courtesy Linda Craft]
The most significant event in the church’s last 25 years was the relocation to the Pin Oak campus, according to church officials.