The beginnings of First Baptist Church have roots in 1876, only five years after Governor R.B. Hubbard named his community “Lindale” after its founder, Elijah Lindsey. Jack Bledsoe, an area evangelist, led a group of 12 families who were to become the charter members of Lindale’s first Baptist congregation. The faithful band of believers met in the old school building, which stood at the corner of North Main and Valley Streets until 1887. This building was also used for many other community events, and later became known as the Limerick Hotel.
In 1888, the local Methodist congregation built a building to host services once a month when their circuit preacher was in town. On weeks that the Methodists didn’t meet, the Baptists used their building on a part-time basis. A year later, though, the Baptist congregation built their first building on a lot donated by Mr. and Mrs. Drew Smith. This building was located at the corner of West South and Henry Streets.
As a result of the division of the State Body of Texas Baptists, a second Baptist congregation formed in Lindale around 1889. This congregation met at the corner of North College and West Hubbard Streets, the present location of Lindale’s Church of Christ. The group took the name “Central Baptist Church” and occupied a small frame building when they gathered together.
In the early 1900’s, as Lindale began to grow and prosper, God also blessed the First Baptist Church. The congregation grew, and a new building was built and dedicated on Henry Street in 1905, which was subsequently remodeled in 1920. In 1923, the two Baptist congregations in Lindale, Central Baptist and First Baptist, passed resolutions to consolidate their membership. The newly united group met in the First Baptist Building, and took on the name “Missionary Baptist Church” for a time.
Worship gatherings with the consolidated group continued in that building until November of 1942, when the structure was destroyed by fire. For almost two years church services were held at the local high school. During this period of time, in 1943, the church became affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention and changed its name back to “First Baptist Church.”
A new building, composed of brown brick, was built on the present campus of South Main Street. The building included a larger sanctuary at the north end of the lot and a small fellowship hall at the south end. Both buildings faced west and were connected by a passage with education rooms and a kitchen. This building was dedicated and occupied in December of 1944.
The existing buildings, including a new parsonage, were renovated and redecorated in 1964. In 1969, the church property was enlarged to include the site of Aubrey Starnes’ “Tater House,” just east of the existing building. The “potato shed” remained an important part of First Baptist’s educational space for years to come.
By 1973, the congregation had outgrown the brown brick building. A Together We Build program followed, and the present Worship Center was completed and dedicated in 1974. This red brick structure with a white steeple and columns faces East Hubbard Street, and the brown brick structure was renovated to house a larger fellowship hall, and the church offices.
A few years later, in 1982, a new two-story building was built just south of the potato shed. This building was used for educational space and now houses children’s ministry classrooms and our nursery. In 1985, the church bought three storefront buildings facing East Hubbard. These were known as the “Priest Buildings” and formerly housed Morris Drug Store, Durham Mallory’s Grocery Store, and Pierce’s Clothing Store. The student ministry used these buildings for several years. Other properties were purchased and traded, some of which were to host various ministries, past and present, including a Spanish congregation, a food and clothing pantry, education space, and the present site of our Texas Baptist Men ministry.
In 1999, the church dedicated a new building, known as the Multi-Ministry Center, on the former site of the brown brick structure. This building includes a gym, walking track, church offices, kitchen, education space, and the present Youth Center. A few years later, the potato shed was razed and a new, two-story adult Education Center was built to accommodate a growing need for space. The new building connects the two-story Children’s Education space and the Worship Center.
God has richly blessed First Baptist Church of Lindale for more than 125 years. We gratefully recognize how our heritage contributes to the resources we have today. The majority of the history available to us pertains to buildings, organizations, and the periodic name of a congregant or leader. However, we recognize that these facts are only a backdrop to the real importance of our heritage: a faithful congregation sharing God’s love and His gospel in its community. Our history reminds us that God works through all sorts of people to accomplish his will. We thank Him for his faithfulness to FBC Lindale, which sets the stage for the ministry that we aim to accomplish today.
The Church has had forty-three pastors in her history. Their names are listed below: