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Churches Organized During the Texas Republic, 1836-1845
By O. H. Griffith
      There are seven Baptist churches, all in East Texas, that were organized during the years of the Republic of Texas, still preaching the Gospel and serving the Lord in ministering to the spiritual needs of the communities in which they are located.

      1838. Union (Old North Church), Nacogdoches, is the oldest Missionary Baptist church now in Texas. This is the site of the first prayer meeting in Texas, led by Mrs. Massie Millard. She had longed for and prayed for a church to be organized there, but died shortly before her prayers were answered.

On Saturday before the first Lord’s Day in May, 1838, Isaac Reed, assisted by Rev. R. G. Green, who had just arrived in Texas, organized the first church in East Texas, to be known in later years as a missionary Baptist church. Nine members went into the organization - all from Tennessee except one from Missouri. Two of them were colored slaves.1
      The church cooperates with the Baptist General Convention of Texas. 1839. Fellowship Church, Joaquin, located just off FM Road 139, began with early immigrants to East Texas in the 1830s. The church has a recorded history back to 1839. It was established and pastored by Wyatt S. Childress, who had arrived in the community in 1836. Fellowship is the oldest Baptist church in Shelby County, and the oldest living Baptist church in Texas in association with the American Baptist Association.

      1840. Isaac Reed assisted by Lemuel Herrin, led in the organization of Bethel Church at Reed Settlement, about two miles west of Clayton. The church membership was composed of the white settlers and their black slaves. After the Civil War, the white members abandoned the church house at Reed Settlement and built a new one at Clayton. They continued under the name of Bethel. The church fellowships in the Baptist Missionary Association of Texas. The black members of the original Bethel Church continued to worship at the original site, and retained the name, Bethel. The present members claim theirs is the original Bethel Church. It would be hard to disprove their claim.

      1843. On Saturday before the first Sunday in April, Lemuel Herrin and Isaac Reed organized Macedonia Church, about five miles west of the present city of Carthage. The church still meets for worship near the original location on U.S. Highway 79. The church cooperates in the fellowship of the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

      1843. In this year Reed and Herrin organized Eight Mile Church, in Harrison County. The members still worship at a site near the original location, but the name has been changed to Friendship. They associate in the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

      1844. Isaac Reed’s concern for the spiritual welfare of his family brought into existence another East Texas church.

Old Palestine Baptist Church [near Alto] was founded in 1844 by the pioneer preacher, the Rev. Isaac Reed, . . . “To minister the Gospel to his daughter and her family who lived in the Linwood area.”

Old Palestine church has continued to minister the Gospel to families in this area since then. . . .The church is considered the second oldest Baptist congregation in Texas.

No other church in the East Texas region and perhaps in the entire state has a history of uninterrupted Gospel preaching equal to Old Palestine.2

      Old Palestine Church fellowships in the Baptist General Convention of Texas. The reader will note that according to available records, Old North Church, Nacogdoches; Bethel Church, Clayton; Fellowship Church, Joaquin; Macedonia Church, Carthage; and Friendship Church, Marshall, were all organized prior to Old Palestine.

      1845. Corinth Baptist Church, FM Road 1970,Timpson, was organized sometime in 1845 as Wedgeworth Church. The old records were lost to a fire in 1910. The church cooperates with the Shelby County Association, the Missionary Baptist Association, and the American Baptist Association.

1 J. M. Carroll, A History of Texas Baptist, Baptist Standard Publishing Co., 1923, p. 121.
2 Marie Murphy, "Religious Scene," Tyler Morning Telegraph, June 6, 1997.

[From Robert Ashcraft, Contending for the Faith, 2006, pp. 533-534; endnote numbers are changed. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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