Milam County Texas Archives
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  Contributed by: Milam County Genealogical Society

Religious Development
(Researched by Mrs. Walter Flscher)
[Click Here For Text Version]

The city of Rockdale has many fine churches. The foundation for such religious development was laid by early citizens who, from 1874 to 1876, were busily engaged in settling a new territory and building a new town; therefore, community church services were held on the second floor of the Branch Brothers Furniture Store. Surroundings were crude, but the religious life of the new town was not neglected. Services were conducted by a Baptist minister, a Mr. Vandivere, and the singing was led by a Mr. Stewart.

In 1876 a union church was erected by Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Episcopal, and Christian members. St. Thomas Episcopal was the first of the church groups to erect a place of worship and in 1879 they moved into their own sanctuary. Soon after all the other church groups erected places of worship, and the Presbyterians purchased the union building.

To-day there twenty-six churches within the city limits, representing fourteen denominations. Each church has its own historical background. Presented here in short form is identical historical data from each church.

Apostolic Faith: 400 West Davilla St.
Date of origin: 1938
First pastor: Rev. Bill Prewitt
Present pastor: Van E. Blythe
First location: Same as the present. The first church building burned and in 1951 the present building was erected.

Assembly of God Churches
(branch of Penecostal Churches)
Assembly of God: Childress St.
Date of origin: 1948
First pastor: C. C. Gee
Present pastor: Larry Thomas
First location: 208 Houston St.
Other locations: Moved from original location to the present location in 1959.

Assembly of God (Latin American): 210 Houston St.
Date of origin: 1960
First pastor: Victor Torres
Present pastor: Sidronio Silva (presiding but not ordained)
First location: Same as the present. The building was purchased from the original Assembly of God Church which moved to Childress St. and in 1960 the Latin American church originated.

Baptist Churches
First Baptist Church: Green St.
Date of origin: 1876
First pastor: Rev. R. B. Baxter
Present pastor: Rev. D. D. Simpson
First location: The community-built house of worship, Union Church Building.
Other locations: In 1881 the First Baptist Church building was erected on the site of the present building with Dr. J. H. Stribling serving as pastor for eleven years.

Meadowbrook Baptist Church: Colorado St.
Date of origin: June 17, 1954
First pastor: Rev. A. L. Gatewood
Present pastor: Rev. N. A. Mills
First location: Elementary School Cafeteria
Other locations: Junior High School Gymnasium, a residence on Bell St. next to the present Ernest Rinn home. The residence is now owned by Curtis Foster. In 1955 the congregation moved into the new building at the present location.

Iglesia Bautista Antioquia: San Gabriel St.
Date of origin: Work was begun among the people in 1905, became a mission from the First Baptist Church in 1955, became a church on December 18, 1966.
First pastor: R. R. Martinez
Present pastor: Alex Leal
First location: 339 Rice St.
Other locations: Moved to present location on February 18, 1968

Springfield Baptist Church: Third St.
Date of origin: About 1872—by 1874 was a member of the LaGrange Area Association
First pastor: Riley Williams
Present pastor: T. R. Simmons
First location: Same as the present.

New Hope Baptist Church: East Third St.
Date of origin: 1891
First pastor: Jessie Herron
Present pastor: 1. M. Murray
First location: A tent on Rice St. in the 700 block where the J. L. Banks home now stands
Other locations: Was moved to the Henry Smith property at 317 Fifth St., then to the present location.

Rising Star Baptist Church: Texas St.
Date of origin: 1907
First pastor: W. M. Larry founded the church. It is not known whether he was the first pastor or just a member of the church.
Present pastor: L. O. Lang
First location: Originated in the Tracy community.
Other locations: In 1960 was moved to the present location.

Firm Baptist Area: East Bell St.
Date of origin: November, 1964
First pastor: Rev. J. O. Morman
Present pastor: Rev. J. O. Morman
First location: Same as the present
Other information: Rev. Morman is the only one ever to serve this area. He is the same as a missionary to the missions in the area of Falls, Independence (of Washington County), Robertson, and Milam counties.

Gospel Baptist Church: East Cameron St.
Date of origin: 1958
First pastor: Rev. Buck Hillin
Present pastor: The church has been disbanded. Rev. Hillin was the only pastor to serve the church.
First location: The Eiland building on Hwy. 79 W.
Other locations. Moved from Eiland building to the last location on East Cameron St. where the church disbanded in 1967.

St. Joseph's Catholic Church: San Gabriel St.
Date of origin: 1880
First pastor: Missionary and pioneer work done by Fathers John and Jacob Lauth and Fathers Strelsky and Wolf—first regular priest to serve the church was Monsignor Gleisner
Present pastor: Father Paul McCallum
First location: Same as the present
Other information: First church built in 1880, torn down and rebuilt in 1912, building moved and present new structure erected in April, 1967.

First Christian Church: West Bell St.
Date of origin: March 30, 1887
First pastor: A. J. Bush, Sr. Present pastor: Timothy Griffm
First location: In the old Presbyterian Church on San Gabriel St.
Other locations: Moved to its first building on northwest corner of Bell and Scarbrough Streets in 1891, moved into its second building on the same site in 1925, moved into the third and present building on the same site in 1958.

Churches of Christ
The Church of Christ: 1301 Murray St.
Date of origin: 1922
First pastor: Howard Mitchell
Present pastor: George Hall
First location: In a school building located where Richards Hospital and Clinic are now located on Main St.
Other locations: City Hall, Grace Lutheran Church Building, Sandy Creek Church, old Presbyterian Church on San Gabriel St., back to Lutheran Church for several years, and in 1954 to the new building on Murray St. which is the present location.

West Bell Church of Christ: 345 West Bell St.
Date of origin: June 19, 1963
(known as Downtown Church of Christ)
First pastor: Charles A. Gibson
Present pastor: Ray Mayse
First location: Present Boys Club building (old educational building of old St. John's Methodist Church on Hwy. 79 E)
Other locations: Used the Grace Lutheran Church building, then moved to the present site on Bell St.

Pecan Street Church of Christ: Pecan St.
Date of origin: August, 1948
First pastor: Luke Miller
Present pastor: Eugene Knox
First location: In the Matilda Cook home on 6th St.
Other locations: Moved to the Masonic Hall for the colored, then moved to the present Pecan St. Iocation.

Church of the Nazarene: Coulter St.
Date of origin: Spring, 1955
First pastor: C. A. Raines
Present pastor: Frank Taylor
First location: Same as present

Deliverance Tabernacle Church: Crockett and Belton Sts.
Date of origin: July, 1969
First pastor: Clarence Alonzo, Jr.
Present pastor: Clarence Alonzo, Jr.
First location In G. T. Alexander store on 2nd St.
Other locations: Moved to present location in 1971.

St. Thomas Episcopal Church: East Davilla St.
Date of origin: 1873
First pastor: Alex Gregg
Present pastor: James F. Mitcheil
First location: Not known, but by 1875 services were held in community chapel established over McCauley's corner in downtown Rockdale
Other locations: In 1879 the present site was given by Solon Joynes, a church was built, and in 1952 extensive remodeling converted the church into the present building.

Full Gospel Chapel: 811 North Burleson
Date of origin: July, 1956
First pastor: Rev. Millard Brown
Present pastor: Rev. Millard Brown
First location: Same as present.

Holy Temple of Jesus Christ Church Penecostal Inc.:
111 Plum St.
Date of origin: December, 1972
First pastor: Mrs. G. T. Alexander
Present pastor: Evangelist Mrs. G. T. Alexander
First location: Same as present.

Lutheran Churches
Peace Lutheran Church: Meadow Drive
Date of origin: 1883
First pastor: Immanuel Glatzel
Present pastor: Gary E. Mayer
First location: At Bushdale
Other locations: In 1909 moved to Wilcox St. in location and building of present Grace Lutheran Church, in 1937 moved to old Presbyterian Church building on San Gabriel St., in 1967 moved to present new building on Meadow Drive.

Grace Lutheran Church: N. Wilcox St.
Date of origin: October, 1954
First pastor: Paul Stengel
Present pastor: Wayne Pafk
First location: Same as present location which was originally the site of the Murrav St. Church of Christ.

Methodist Churches
St. John's United Methodist Church: Parkway
Date of origin: 1876
First pastor: Rev. R. F. Beasley
Present pastor: Robert W. Koch
First location: The community-built house of worship on San Gabriel St. Other locations: Southeast corner of Cameron and Green Sts., moved to present location in October, 1960.

Allen Chapel A. M. E. Church: East Third St.
Date of origin: 1875
First pastor: J. H. Connor
Present pastor: J. A. Peterson
First location: In Henry McFadden's home near the present site
Other locations: Moved into a building on the present site which was remodeled and used until the new edifice was built, laid corner stone for present new building on Sunday, August 13, 1972.

First Presbyterian Church: Alcoa
Date of origin: 1874
First pastor: W. E. Copeland
Present pastor: Ernest L. Helsley
First location: Services were held in various places until first building was constructed on the site of present Iglesia Bautista Antioquia in 1876.
Other locations: In 1914 the present building was constructed on the same site as the original church, in June, 1954, moved into the new building on Alcoa and the building of 1914 has become a Latin-American church.

Hillcrest Baptist Church: Praesel Addition
Date of origin: 1958
First pastor: 1. D. McBride
Present pastor: Thomas Dusek
First location: In the Arlie McKinnon home in Praesel Addition
Other locations: Moved to what is now Acme Sheet Metal Co.
on South Wilcox until present building was erected

Mt. Zion Baptist Church: Old Cameron Highway FM 1712
Date of origin: 1872, under the name Pleasant Grove Baptist
First pastor: N. J. Dyer Present pastor: Dean Evans
First location: At Murray Cemetery on Tracy Highway
Other locations: In 1895 moved to present location and the name was changed to the present name.

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