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The History of Pine Springs Baptist Church by Mildred Marsh Bagwell

A Brief History of Pine Springs Baptist Church

Long ago on a day in early September, two men conveyed, by deed, a two acre tract of land to two other men. This was the initiation of a school and church in a small rural community in north-eastern Smith County. The year was 1881; the conveyors were L.E. Nunn and C.L. Wright; the recipients were C.S. Cook and Perry Ray, trustees. A sum of eleven dollars and fifty cents was agreed upon. The land was to be held exclusively for church and school purposes.

On this tract bubbled a spring of cool, clear water. Adjacent to the spring stood a majestic pine tree; hence the name Pine Springs came to be applied to this spot on which a small one room frame building was erected. John Demus Ray is credited with originating the name Pine Springs. This building housed the school and doubled as a church on certain Sundays (about one Sunday a month).

Early settlers recalled that between 1881 and 1884 a Brother Wadsworth did the preaching for the church that was designated the Pine Springs Baptist Church of Christ.

Records authenticate the fact that an organization known as the Pine Spring Baptist Church of Christ was formed in 1882 and services were held in the little log cabin building with a Reverend M.M. Wadsworth as pastor.

This group became challenged to seek a site on which to erect a permanent church building. The first step was to appoint a committee to contact members of the community about such a site. As a result of this survey, it was reported, in a conference on December 20, 1890 that a good Methodist Brother, E.G. Harvey, proposed to give two acres of land for the erection of a church. He stipulated that if a building was not built within five years, the land would revert to the original owner. With such an understanding, the committee voted to take a deed which stated that E.G. Harvey, wife, Barbara and John L. Cousins conveyed a tract containing three acres instead of the proposed two acres to T.J. Shamburger, Perry Ray, and N.B. Kellis, trustees of Pine Springs Church for a consideration of $12.50. This land was to be used for the benefit of both church and community. By May, 1891, the land had been surveyed and a deed drawn.

These people were hearty pioneers and immediately implemented plans for a building. They appointed a committee composed of six men to institute building plans and to solicit funds from the community. The men appointed were as follows: T.J. Shamburger, J.D. Ray, F.M. Smyre, G.B. Leath, H.M. Smith, and H.M. Owens. Later the committee was increased to eight when N.B. Hudnall and E.G. Harvey were added. They were able to report in July that $514.50 had been donated toward the raising of the new church building. By this time the Rev. Jones had been succeeded by L.C. Kellis as pastor.

Records reveal that a contract for the construction of the new church was awarded to, Messers, McMurray, and Sewell. Their bid was $772.50. They were instructed to begin construction on August 23, 1891. The completion date is unknown. However, records reveal that less than one year later a committee of four was appointed to supervise the painting of the new building. This leads to the assumption that the building was completed by early 1892.

State Mission Offerings rose to $33.00, and the Buckners offering to $25.00, while gifts to Foreign Missions remained at $10.00. The pastors annual salary was $200.00 and the church property was evaluated at $800.00.

An interesting fact noted in these associational minutes, is the address of the Pine Springs Church clerk, a resident of the community, as Fruit, Texas. It seems that this is an authentic address, since Fruit was the name of the only post office that the community ever boasted.

C.J. Youngblood became pastor in 1900 and in 1901 the Smith County Baptist Association again met at Pine Springs. M.P. Ray was moderator and H.B. Matthe was elected messenger to the State Convention. Records show that the church had attained a membership of one hundred twelve persons.

The resumption of church records in 1904, indicate that Rev. Raleigh White was pastor, but was succeeded within a few months by L.W. Duke. Progress was somewhat erratic during Rev. Duke's ministry. Records show that the church attained a membership of one hundred fifty-eight and had begun to hold services twice a month. The pastor's salary was raised to $300.00 per year. After about six months, the membership decided to revert to one service monthly and reduce tha pastor's salary to $200.00 per year. M.P. Ray, Will Barron, E.C. Olive, and J.C. McCullough were elected deacons.

For some year and a half, the church flourished. It met regularly and held periodic business meetings. During these early days, the church occasionally used its authority to see that the members walked in the "straight and narrow" and in a manner befitting Christians and church members. Those who failed to live up to the accepted standards received their due chastisement. This came in the form of removal from fellowship with the church body. Records show that this chastisement was pronounced upon persons guilty of such misdeeds as drunkenness, gossip and backbiting, and picking strawberries on Sunday. Upon repentance and proper apology, they were reinstated and welcomed back as members in good standing. For a few months in 1893, E.W. Parker served as pastor. To be followed by Tully Choice.

The three-year ministry of Brother Choice was marked by several firsts. The first Sunday School was organized on January 7, 1894. J.D. Ray and J.L. Foster were elected first Superintendent and Secretary, respectively. On this same day the earliest recorded mission offering was taken. A total of $2.00 was given to Sunday School Missions. Also during the ministry of Brother Choice, the first wedding was conducted, which was in 1895. Mr. Burl Owens and Miss Edna Hinds were married with Miss Susie Atkins serving as the bride's attendant. No other wedding was performed in the church until that of Irvin Stewart and Evelyn Coker in 1940.

A short time later the building committee reported an indebtedness of $160.00 against the building. This led to the adoption of a monthly giving plan to be administered by an elected secretary upon order of the church.

As early as 1884, the church had joined the Cherokee Baptist Association, and on October 19 and 20, 1895, that body held its annual meeting at Pine Springs Church. A membership of seventy-seven persons permitted three messengers from the host church. These were N.B. Kellis, and F.M. Smyre, were the elected messengers to the association's annual meeting. These same minutes indicate gifts of $3.50 to State Missions, $3.50 to Foreign Missions, and $1.00 to Buckners Orphan Home. These minutes also show an increase in Foreign Missions gifts to a total of $10.00 in 1899.

When the Smith County Baptist Association met at the First Baptist Church in Tyler on October 30, 1900, it had received a letter of petition from Pine Springs Church indicating a desire for membership. After consideration, acceptance was recommended and messengers M.P. Ray, N.B. Kellis was elected messenger to the State Convention.

This same year, growth was indicated by a Sunday School enrollment of sixty-five with eight teachers and officers.

Women's Missionary Society made its entry into the records of Pine Springs Church on September 24, 1904, when the first annual session of Women's Missionary Union met at Pine Springs Church. During the morning service, Mrs. Foster had the opening prayer, and the welcome was by Mrs. Burl Owens. During the afternoon service, Mrs. Emmett Harvey gave the opening prayer and Mrs. H.B. Matthews presented a paper on "How to Keep A Live Mission Society in Country Churches." The message must have been effective, because missions under the influence of Women's Missionary Society became and has remained an integral part of church missions through subsequent years.

The State Convention met in San Antonio, Texas, in 1907; H.B. Matthews, J.F. Ray, and G.W. Atkins were sent as delegates from Pine Springs and took a mission offering of $13.00. Bi-monthly services were resumed and mission gifts increased to $27.65 during 1908.

Rev. Wayne Caltharp became pastor in 1910. During this period the church voted to call its pastor indefinitely with the understanding that both church and pastor would give thirty days notice if a change was desired. At the end of five years, Rev. Caltharp declined further ministry to the church and Rev. C.C. Carr came on the field for two years.

Under the leadership of Rev. Carr the church entered into a program of sharing pastors with a sister church in the city of Pine Springs on a bi-monthly basis. Pastors L.D. Posey, Z.T. Sullivan, and J.B. Oliver served during these years of sharing pastors.

During the ministry of Brother Sullivan, the first Baptist Young Peoples Union was organized with Mrs. Ora Hicks Gwin as its leader. During these years B.L. Ginn and J.S. Brown were elected deacons.

Following the era of sharing pastors, T.D. Sumrall, a student at Southwestern Seminary became pastor. The year was 1925. He brought innovations that were viewed with skepticism by some but proved to be steps toward better Sunday School organization. First, a system of wires and curtains was devised to separate classrooms. This system effectively screened out sight, but not sound. Secondly, a class of teenagers, taught by Miss Jewel Donaldson, initiated the practice of tithing through the Sunday School organization. Class and teacher resolved to "lay by in store as God had prospered"' one tenth of their earnings. This money was to be placed in the church treasury. From this inspiration, the church was eventually led to a plan of financing through the Sunday School.

In these years there came to be associated with the church, a man who remains a challenge and an inspiration to the church to this day. Seddik Wasili Girgis, a native of Egypt, had come to the United States to study at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Girgis had been converted from a devout Moslem background to a follower of Christ and was preparing to follow the call of God to go back to Egypt as a missionary to his own people. He became a popular figure at Pine Springs Church, preached and sang many times, and became a part of the young life in the church. His education was finished and subsequently he returned to his home land. The people of Pine Springs Church, in accordance with their love and respect for him, opened their hearts to his needs and dedicated their third Sunday offering to help him in his ministry. Later, he was accepted and supported by the Foreign Mission board but he, his wife, and daughter, remained proteges of the spirit of the Pine Springs Baptist Church.

In 1927, the leadership of the church was taken over by the Rev. Jack McMinn and in 1929 by the Rev. Raymond Fortner. Brother Fortner was followed in 1930 by W.O. Williams during whose pastorate the church was involved in the purchase of a camp site a few miles south of the Dallas Highway near the present location of Pounds Field. This was a county-wide endeavor, encouraged by the Women's Missionary Union and supported by the churches. The camp continued service for several years and had numerous buildings. When Pounds Field airport came into existence, the camp property was sold to the airport. Rev. Williams resigned in 1934, and a month later, G.J. Crossland became pastor. During the pastorate of Rev. Williams, H.T. McCullough, Charles E. McCollum, and F.M. Larison were ordained as deacons. A.W. Coltharp, Pastor 1910-1916 Under the leadership of Rev. Crossland, a committee was appointed and instructed to replace the wire and curtain system with moveable partitions in each end of the building. This project was completed.

In March 1935, in conference, the church voted to create a financial program whereby all organizations except the Women's Missionary Society, would place all offerings into a main treasury. W.B. Hardy was elected treasurer to disburse such funds. About the same time, a simplified budget system was instituted. Plate offerings were designated in the following order: First Sunday-Cooperative Program; Second Sunday-District Missions; Third Sunday-Rev. Girgis; and Fourth Sunday-Buckner's Orphans Home.

Another forward move marked the ministry of Rev. Crossland. The church went to full-time services and adopted a plan of work in January of 1936. This plan called for: (1) aggressive enlistment campaign, (2) better system of church finance, (3) full-time pastoral work, and (4) a more adequate building. These momentous endeavors continued through the pastorates of Rev. Gary Hollis, who came to Pine Springs in 1937 and was succeeded by the Rev. E.T. Howard in 1939.

Emphasis continued to be placed upon the need for a new building and three years later, Rev. Howard appointed a building and finance committee to canvas the church and community for funds.

Following the idea fostered by a predecessor, the Rev. Howard was asked to move on the church field and serve full-time at a stipulated salary of $100.00 per month. This was voted by the church on October 11, 1942. Rev. Howard served Rev. and Mrs. Seddik W. Girgis served the church until March of 1944. His wife died during his ministry at Pine Springs.

In August of 1944, Rev. Martin Landers became pastor. Leroy Fortner and B.S. Shamburger were ordained as deacons this same year.

World War II came to the forefront with many of the communities young men gone into the service of their country. Camp Fannin was built upon a location a few miles east of Pine Springs.

The church was host to many soldiers. The men and their families came from all walks of life and from various parts of the country. They made their impact upon the life of the church. Chaplains filled the pulpit on many occasions.

Communication with Rev. Girgis was lost during the war and the third Sunday offering was used to support Soldier Center Work.

After forty-five years of progress, slow and somewhat erratic but generally forward, God led the church to a resolution which resulted in the creation of a committee to draw up plans for a more adequate building to be erected on the same location. George Larison, Leroy Fortner, Wade Atkins, Fred Taylor, Frank Salt, Mrs. Jack Shamburger, Mrs. Gordon Atwood, and Mrs. Bonnie Shamburger composed this committee. After lengthy consultations with several architects, they were able, in January of 1946 to submit an architects drawing of a building. The church accepted this plan.

Following this acceptance, it was necessary to have a committee to solicit and disburse the funds in a sufficient amount to begin work. This was to be a permanent committee which was composed of B.L. Ginn, F.G. Taylor, B.S. Shamburger, Leroy Fortner, and Frank Salt.

To properly apportion responsibilities, another committee was elected and was made up of Gordon Atwood, Wade Atkins, George Larison, Fred Hardy, Paul Shamburger, C.E. McCollum, and Corbin Hood. This was designated the building committee.

On August 3, 1947, the church voted to demolish the present structure so that new construction could begin. In November of this same year, a pastor's home was purchased. This was the first permanent provision the church had made for a minister's living quarters in its more than sixty years of existence.

A change of pastors came in January of 1948, when the Rev. O.L. Bryant came on the field. His tenure saw much building upon the foundation of his predecessors. A bulletin was published, a brotherhood was organized, a subscription to the Baptist Standard for each member's home was place in the the budget, and a church library was started with Nancy Jo Todd as the first librarian.

The Lord blessed the building efforts; money came in steadily and work progressed likewise until by July 10, 1949, the congregation moved into a new brick-veneer house of worship. Humbly, the people thanked God for it. The building was free from debt and dedicated to the purpose of carrying out the great commission.

The actual amount of cash outlay for the building was $26,153.42. Much material had been salvaged from the old building and many hours of labor were donated by members. The estimated value of the building was $40,000.00

The people resolved to show their gratitude by their rejoicing and took for their motto that phrase so often quoted by the great preacher and prophet of their day, Dr. George Truett: "Hats off to the past! Coats off to the future."

During Rev. Bryant's tenure, a music director was called. Fred Moeller was the first man to serve in this capacity. Also a mission was organized at Owentown which was the industrial complex that supplanted the old Camp Fannin facility. Pine Springs Church supplied pastors and funds until the mission became a self-sustaining church.

Rev. Bryant's four years were fruitful ones and by the time he was called to another church it was evident that an educational facility was necessary to the growth of the church. So, on February 10, 1952, Leroy Fortner, Fred Hardy, Paul Shamburger, Mrs. Ernest Owen, Archie Geddie, and George Larison were appointed as a committee to study needs and to plan for such a building.

Rev. L.A. McKinney became pastor on August 19, 1952. A finance committee was elected to oversee the securing of funds for the new educational building. This committee was made up of Fred Hardy, B.L. Ginn, O.B. Dozier, and Paul Shamburger.

On October 12, 1952, the church voted to erect an educational building to be attached to the present building on the north, and to be built as money became available. A month later the work was begun. This was to be a two-story building and contain a large assembly room, library, kitchen, and Sunday School rooms.

Dedication services were held on August 23, 1953. In 1955, Rev. McKinney was called to a new church field.

During the months when the church was pastorless, Rev. Simpson Daniel, Chaplain at the East Texas Tuberculosis Sanitarium, another facility that rose on the old Camp Fannin site, became interim pastor and served very ably.

The Rev. Don Tisdale came as pastor in 1956 while the church was in the process of building its present parsonage. Leroy Fortner, Wade Atkins, Earl Ginn, Mildred Atwood, and Ida Mae Pinkerton made up the committee to plan the construction of the house on a tract of land donated by Ernest Roberts, and located about a quarter of a mile west of the original school and church building. Archie Geddie, Johnny Theodore, Lois Anderson, and Brooks Ramsey were selected to serve on the finance committee.

On December 9, 1956, plans were approved and committees were authorized to proceed. Bids were accepted and Holland Lumber Company was awarded the contract upon their bid of $13,250.00. J.D. McElroy was the contractor and Charles Lemmons was the inspector.

The completed structure included six rooms and two baths with an attached garage. Rev. Tisdale and his family were the first occupants.

Rev. Bill Agee provided able leadership from 1960-1964. He was dedicated and the church prospered under his leadership.

Again, in 1963, it was necessary to secure an interim pastor. Rev. Leo Rudd came to Pine Springs in that capacity and served for several months in a fruitful ministry.

In 1964, Rev. Harold Hendricks was secured as pastor. During his ministry, God led him to project plans for a children's building adjacent to the existing facility.

On September 18, 1966, a children's building was recommended and a committee was appointed. Ray Bagwell, David Germany, Roy Jones, Paul Shamburger, Leroy Fortner, Mildred Atwood, and Betty Cooper made up this committee.

In conference on December 11, 1966, the church voted to construct such a building at a cost of $15,226.85.

Rev. Hendricks, after serving this church for five years, was succeeded by the Rev. Royce Laseter who remained as pastor for seven years.

In 1976, the church called the Rev. Dr. Ben Stripling as interim pastor. The present pastor, Rev. H.V. (Pete) Freeman came in March of 1976.

Comparisons indicate the material and human blessings God has bestowed upon this church as it has marched forward over the years since 1881.

Numbers are indicative of the growth:

Membership:

1883 34

1978 432 (resident)

Sunday School Enrollment:

1900 65

1978 342

Mission Gifts:

Home:

1885 $ 5.20

1978 $ 1,066.30

Foreign:

1900 $ 10.00

1977 $ 1,940.97

Property Values:

1900 $ 700.00

1978 $440,000.00

Numbers and dollar figures do not always indicate spiritual growth, but a backward look at all those staunch leaders, both clergy and laymen, tell us that God led them as they sought to glorify Him. Each leader contributed to that which his predecessor had built and each made an impact to be realized by those who followed.

Today's generations honor their heritage. It is a heritage of hardy souls who had a vision and persevered to build and to keep it. Without them and their dependence upon the Creator, there would be no Pine Springs Baptist Church. May succeeding generations preserve this heritage through increased faith and a willingness to follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit. May they give increase to the future of Pine Springs Church both spiritually and numerically. May they, as Elisha waited to receive the Mantle of Elijah, be willing to wait upon and follow the leadership of God.


Owner/SourceMildred Marsh Bagwell/USGenWeb Archives
Linked toPine Springs Baptist Church, Pine Springs, Smith, Texas, USA

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