First Baptist History
The Pastor as spent countless hours and at present, read 71 books to find the details of our heritage in centuries past. We here at First Baptist hope that you will be blessed as you consider the past, and see where we come from. (The pastor is currently still working on this history)
Church at Abergavenny, South Wales, 1652 by William Prichard, and Thomas Watkins
(This building was built in 1875 and is the fourth to be on the site. It stands on the banks of the Cleddau River where they baptized new elievers.) The day on which the church was constituted, they received, by letter, one from Llantrisaint, one from Swansea (it’s from this church the Mr. W. Prichard was sent), and one from Okhon-making, in the whole, twenty-five members. Bro. William Prichard was sent to organize this church out of the church at Swansea, and afterwards became their pastor. Soon there was a great dispute in the town about baptism. John Tombs preached on the subject of believers' baptism, and John Cragg, A. M., on the subject of Pedobaptism (infant baptism). Consequetly there were between forty and fifty were baptized, (many of them had been members in the Pedobaptist order,) and added to the Baptist church that year. In the year 1654, there were several young men in this church, who were exercising their gifts as public speakers. Hitherto they had no meeting-house, but they met in different dwelling-houses. In 1695, Christopher Price, an assistant preacher of William Prichard, gave a spot of ground, on which a meeting-house was then built, and called Llanwenarth. This church was considered, for many years, as the Jerusalem of Wales, and William Prichard, chief bishop. He was very much respected in London and Bristol, as well as at home. Through him the Welsh ministers received money from the London fund. He died in the month of August, 1728, being sixty-three years old. These words are on his tombstone, at Llanwenarth:
"Here lieth one of Abel's race,
Whom Cain did hunt from place to place;
Yet, not dismayed, about he went,
Working until his days were spent.
He's now at rest, and takes a nap
Upon his common mother's lap,
Waiting to hear the Bridegroom say,
Arise, my love, and come away."
Church in Bewdley founded in 1650-54 John Tombes 1603 – 22 May, 1676 Sponsored by the church at Abergavenny
Mr, John Tombes, of Bewdley, Worcestershire -- a man whose attainments fitted him for any station in which learning and piety were requisite. The noted Mr. Wall, in his elaborate History of Infant Baptism, says, that "of the professed Anti-pedobaptists, Mr. Tombes was a man of the best parts in our nation, and perhaps in any other." And Dr. Calamy's honorable testimony of him is, that he was a person "whom all the world must known to have been a respectable man, and an excellent scholar." This learned divine, about the year 1650-54 took under his tuition three amiable young men -- Mr. Boylston, of whom no particulars are in my possession, Mr. Richard Adams, and Mr. John Eccles. The Baptist Church in Bewdley is generally accepted as being one of the earliest Baptist churches, Most likely 1654 a year after his debate on baptism, at Abergavenny.
Bromsgrove Baptist Church Was founded in 1666 by John Eccles Sponsored out of the Church Bewdley Bishop John Eccles was a young clothier by trade from Bewdley Mr. Eccles became pastor of the Baptist church at Broomsgrove, suffered much for non-conformity, preached the gospel there and at Coventry near sixty years with reputation, and died honorably in the year one thousand seven hundred and eleven.
Barnoldswick Baptist Church founded in 1694-95 by David Crosley although he started out as a Presbyterian he soon came to the understanding that he did not have a scriptural baptism, and in 1692 was re-Baptized (Ana-Baptist) in Worcestershire and later sent out of the Bromsgrove Baptist Church it is said “he is truly the stuff of a legend, he was said to be a friend of the Baptist preacher John Bunyan”
Two cousins, William Mitchell and David Crosley were significant in the work of planting and reviving Baptist life travelling backwards and forwards across the Pennine hills Their work linked twenty small Baptist groups called the “Rossendale Round”.
Wainsgate Baptist Church founded 1750 by Richard Smith sponsored from the Church at Barnoldswick, he was pastor it seems (although it is not clear) till his death and succeeded in 1764 by John Fawcett. and we do have a lot of history on this great man of God.
John Fawcett, D.D. was born Jan 6th. 1740 at Lidget Green, near Bradford, Yorks. Converted at the age of 16 under the ministry of G. Whitefield,
He at first joined the Methodists, but three years later united with the Baptist Church at Bradford. Having begun to preach he was, in 1765, ordained Baptist minister at Wainsgate near Hebden Bridge, Yorks. In 1772 he was invited to London to succeed the celebrated Dr. J.Gill as pastor of Carter's Lane. The invitation had been formerly accepted, the farewell sermon at Whinsgate had been preached and the wagon loaded with his goods for removal, when the love and tears of his attached people prevailed and he decided to remain. Fawcett sacrificed a London appointment and remained where he was loved and respected. His salary was £25 pounds a year.
From the circumstances of this incident Fawcett wrote his well-known hymn, "Blest be (is) the tie that binds", headed "Brotherly Love". In 1793 he was invited to become President of the Baptist Academy at Bristol, but declined. In 1811 he received from America the degree of D.D. and died in 1817 at the age of 78. Dr. Fawcett was the author of a number of prose works in Practical Religion, several of which attained a large circulation.
Olney Baptist Church Organized 1775 by John Sutcliff Sponsored out of the Church at Wainsgate
Bro. Sutcliff was Baptized by Fawcett soon after his conversion, Sutcliff joined Wainsgate Baptist Church on 28 May 1769, he walked over 200 miles to go to college in Bristol, and in 1775 he organized the baptized believers in Olney, and became Olney Baptist Church, for up until that time it had not been organized out of a true New testament Baptist Church. During this period he set up an academy or seminary in two adjacent houses close to the church, and under his tutelage a number of prominent Baptist preachers developed. Of these, the most well known were William Robinson, who became the first “home grown” missionary to Serampore in 1806, and William Carey whose vision of a calling to evangelize the heathen led to him becoming instrumental in the formation of the Baptist Missionary Society in 1792 and becoming its first missionary in 1793. (It was Olney Baptist Church which had actually commissioned him to be a Minister after considerable discussion as to his suitability!!). It is also here at Olney Baptist Church where a missionary was sent out to Jamaica and later to the New World his name is Lee Compere.
First Baptist Montgomery , Sponsored out of the Church at Onley UK, by English missionaries Lee (1790-1871) and Susannah (ca. 1797-1833) Compere arrived in Alabama in 1822 and spent a decade caught up in the tensions between white, black and Creek Indian cultures. As abolitionists and champions of what Lee termed "the cause of humanity," they clashed with slaveowners—both white and Creek—and made powerful enemies on both sides of the Indian removal debate.
Before Bro. Lee came to the states he was sent out of his Home church Olney Baptist Church, they appointed Compere to serve as a missionary among the slaves in the British colony of Jamaica. While visiting a church shortly before he was to leave, Compere was introduced to Susannah Voysey, the mission-minded 18-year-old daughter of a wealthy London family. Lee and Susannah married within weeks of meeting and departed for Jamaica in late 1815. The Comperes' missionary efforts in Jamaica were successful in terms of building a congregation of baptized believers, but the couple apparently angered many by openly opposing slavery. They also had their first child, a daughter, while in Jamaica but she died aboard ship when the couple went on to be missionaries to the New World in 1817. Lee and Susannah went on to have eight more children together, seven of whom survived: Frances, Elizabeth Tobither, Nancy Jane, Susannah Voysey ("Muscogee"), Thomas Hichigee, William, and Ebenezer Lee.
They were told of the need for missionaries in Creek Indian town of Tuckabatchee, near modern-day Tallassee, Alabama, the Comperes happily accepted. The Creeks wanted Western-style education for their children but prohibited Christian evangelism. As they had in Jamaica, when the Comperes found that politics and cultural beliefs conflicted with what they viewed as their calling, they followed their calling. This inevitably invited controversy. The first years of the work at Tuckabatchee were relatively smooth, however. The Comperes taught classes to the Creek students, ministered to small communities of Christians of various cultures living within the Creek Nation, and reported to their Baptist and U.S. government supporters all that they observed about the largely undocumented Creek culture. They were, in a sense, also missionaries from the Creeks to the whites, and their observations helped the government and other missionaries better understand southeastern Indian culture.
The violence at the station was the beginning of the end of the Comperes' work among the Creeks. Lee feared leaving his family alone and in any case had long since grown weary of the fundraising, bureaucratic frustrations, and widespread opposition to his work. It also seemed increasingly clear that the Americans would soon succeed in parting the Creeks from their land.
In 1829 the Compere family left the Creek Nation and settled on a farm near Montgomery. The couple established another school, founded the First Baptist Church of Montgomery.
In his final years, Lee lived with his son Thomas in Arkansas and Texas, and died near Corsicana, Texas, on. June 15, 1871.
Lee and Susannah Compere left to Alabama a remarkable legacy of courage and concern for what Lee called "the cause of humanity." Their willingness to speak out against injustice wherever they found it anticipated the civil rights struggles of the twentieth century. Each of the Comperes' sons entered the ministry and served in education.
First Baptist Church of Burnham TX founded in 1862-69 sponsored out of the church at Montgomery AL. by Thomas Hechigee Compere 1827-1882
There is not much that has survived to allow us to glimpse the man that bares an Indian warrior chief’s name “Hechigee”.
Only to say this he followed in his father’s footsteps. He was not only a Church planter, but also the first schoolteacher at Wadeville, a village located near present-day Kerens, Texas. When Burnham Baptist was relocated to the Town of Ennis, and became First Baptist Ennis, Bro. was there to help organize it and they called there first Pastor as First Baptist Ennis Bro. R.K. Freeman.
First Baptist Church of Ennis
The First Baptist Church of Ennis, Texas was started and organized out of the First Baptist Church of Burnham Texas in May or June 1873, with a membership of twenty-five people the majority of whom came from the First Baptist of Burnham Texas, when the town (Burnham) closed.
The group met in a vacant store building on Main Street. Bro. R.K. Freeman of Corsicana was called as the first pastor of the church for one Sunday each month.
The next pastor was Dr W. H. Parks, under whose leadership the church built their first house of worship on the corner of North Dallas Street and Baylor Street. In a short time the church building was destroyed by a cyclone. Immediately, the church built a larger building, which served the needs of the congregation for a number of years
Following Dr. Parks were Bro. Bennett Hatcher, Bro. S H Slaughter, Bro. Owens, Bro. Sams, Bro. Daily, Bro. Huffines Bro. Prather, and Bro. Edgar Parker. Others following were Bro. A. W. Luper, Bro. Wise, Bro. R. L. McGuiston, Bro. J. E. Glenn, Bro. L. S. Ballard, Bro. A. J. Kirkland, and Bro. S. T. Francis.
In January 1948, Bro. R. P. Campbell was called as pastor and served until April, 1967. Under Bro. Campbell's leadership, repairs were done on the auditorium again and a new baptistery was installed.
In the Spring of 1954, the Church purchased the first electric Hammond Organ with funds which began several years previously by the Wheeler Bible Class with a "mile of dimes".
A lot was given to the church by Mr. V. L. Anthony, with the request that a Missionary Baptist church be built there. After Mr. Anthony's death, the church bought another lot in Anthony Addition (same addition the lot is located which Mr. Anthony gave to the Church (First Baptist).
The church sponsored an open air revival assisted by Ellis County Missionary Herman Littlejohn. As a result of this effort, a group met in First Baptist Church on Sunday afternoon, August 14, 1955, and a new Missionary Baptist Church came into being, namely, The Anthony Drive Baptist Church. The First Baptist Church deeded the mentioned property in Anthony Addition to the new church on which to erect its place of worship, which was done.
In June of 1957, Bro. W. E. Nunn was called to First Baptist Church. Under his leadership the church purchased a large residence on the corner of West Baylor and North McKinney streets. This building was used as the Youth Building, housing the Intermediate and Young People's Departments in the Sunday School for several years. In 1959 a new entrance to the old auditorium was made. In 1962 the church built an additional bedroom and bath on the parsonage located at 204 West Decatur Street, making it a four bedrooms and two baths. On August 4. ,1963, the church voted to purchase an additional property north of the present older buildings.
On this new property it was planned to build a new auditorium. The purchase of the new property and the construction of the auditorium cost the sum of $80,000.00 plus cost of the bond program and the furnishings of the new auditorium. On September 4, 1963 the church voted unanimously to accept the bond program presented by Bro. Philip McGahey representative of the Fidelity Church Finance Corporation of Dallas, Texas. On September 8. 1963. the church voted unanimously to set October 13. 1963, as Kick-Off Time for the bond program these bonds were all sold and the construction on the new auditorium was begun. The construction was completed on August 20, 1964. The furniture was purchased from L. L. Sams of Waco, Texas. It was installed on August 14, 1964
Bro. Nunn resigned on January, 1967. Bro. Hoyt Hefner then accepted interim pastor from January 1967
through April, 1967.
Bro. Harold Burns then accepted a call to pastor in April, 1967. He moved from New Harmony Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas. Under his leadership the church developed an active budget plan and constructed a new Educational Building and Fellowship Hall. In 1972, First Baptist Church borrowed $10,000.00 from the building fund and made a down payment on a new parsonage. The nice brick structure was located at 1302 Crestidge, a real asset to the First Baptist Church. Bro. Burns resigned in 1986.
On November 6,1986, Bro. Clyde H. Johnson first served as interim pastor then as a full-time pastor. Bro. Clyde Johnson retired in August 1991
Bro. Clifton Baugus was called on December 1991 as pastor. He resigned on April 17, 1994.
Bro. Charlie Shadwick served as interim pastor until October 9, 1994 when he was called as full-time pastor. Under his leadership, First Baptist Church did clear a lot for renovation, paid off the debt for our Educational Building and Fellowship Hall, and bought a parsonage. Bro. Charlie Shadwick resigned September, 1996.
Bro. Paul Gauntt and Bro. Danny Pope served as interim Pastors from September, 1996 until may of 1997 during this time the church began a “Teen and Youth Discovery" program. This program began with a very small group and doubled in number of attendance. Mrs. Betty Ann was the teen discovery Leader and Mrs. Troy Vyers was the Youth Discovery Leader
May, 1997 First Baptist Church called Bro. Terry Jackson. Bro. Jackson resigned December, 1997.
On April 12, 1998 First Baptist Church called Bro. Cody Montandon.
Bro. Cody Montandon resigned in 2002.
Bro. Mitch Chapman was called to Pastor later that same year, and with his leadership we were able to do a lot of needed updating to the church. The church through his leadership changed its name to that of "Cross Point Baptist Church"
In March, 2011 the church called Bro. Jeff Evans to Pastor, and God blessed our church through his ministry here. In March, 2012, He resigned.
In August 2012 the church called our current Pastor,
Dr. Christopher Bradford, through his leadership the church reinstated its rightful name First Baptist Church of Ennis and:
* Has started a Spanish ministry
* Created Soul Winning Groups
* Has an annual Mission Conference
* Supports missionaries around the world
* Began the Berean Baptist Institute
* Has a local nursing home ministry
* Started Ennis Bible Believers’ Bookstore
First Baptist Church has been honored over the years with several faithful men serving in the capacity of Ministers of Music. They were, Tipp Vines, Wedsel Groom, LaVoy Simms, Raymond Caldwell, Phillip Ware, Mark Williamson, Jerry Bell, Tommy Clark, Paul Ekenburg and presently Bro. Joe Lee, who was saved here in the church.
First Baptist Church has also had several faithful Youth Ministers, they were, Raymond Caldwell, Larry Hamberlan, Mark Williamson, Jerry Bell, Steve Mosley, David Gradberg, Matt Walker, Matt Awesome and Bro. Hector Espino, and right now we have Bro. Jessie Delgado.
Mrs. Forrest Sullivan began as assistant pianist in January 1942. First Baptist Church purchased a Hammond Organ in 1952 and Mrs. Sullivan became the organist and continued for many years to serve God with her talent as organist of First Baptist Church. Later Mrs. Anita Clark served for many years. Mrs. Mattie Harrison was the Church pianist until her death at the age of 93 on October 1992. Later Mrs. Betty Blazek was the Church pianist for many faithful years.