From the earliest days and the founding of our church in the home of Goldie and John Stafford on July 23, 1946, the history of First Baptist Church, Duncanville, has been the story of seemingly impossible dreams that became possible. The growth of the church can best be seen in the expansion of its facilities. The church began in 1946 as a group of nine people met in the home of Mr. and Mrs. John C. Stafford.
Goldie Stafford Doggett was fond of telling how she took from a sugar bowl the money she had been saving for new curtains for her home, and contributed it to the church. Thus beginning the building program and settling the pattern of self-sacrifice and hard work established by all our pioneering antecedents. With that group, which eventually numbered thirty charter members, the church began a determined growth, which continues to this day.
The new church was guided in its initial stages by Pastor Delbert Holley (1946-1948). The first building constructed by the church was completed in its year of inception, and services were held in the simple, white frame building on September 15, 1946.
As the church membership grew, it soon became apparent that more space was a necessity, so just two years after its beginning, First Baptist Church embarked on construction of its second sanctuary. The members themselves did much of the work. Paul Griffith, a developer in the area and many others had special skills that they used unstintingly in the expansion of the physical structure for their early ministry in Duncanville. A newspaper clipping from that time says of the $10,000 church that, “The members themselves have built their new church. They’ve given their own labor and technology, their money and time.” That same article named Dr. R.G. Lee, then president of the Southern Baptist Convention, as a speaker when the corner stone was laid for the new church, and Dr. Wallace Basset of Cliff Temple, as delivering the dedication sermon.
One of the most inspiring early pictures from the local paper is of the men of the church, aloft, with raised hammers in hand putting the finishing touches on the steeple of the new church. “The banker who lent the $10,000 called the project impossible at the time he made the loan, but the church’s trustees proved him wrong. With donations of cash and labor, the church was worth at least $25,000 when completed.
The period from 1948 to 1963 was blessed by the services of three pastors. Dr. Fred White, under whose ministry the second sanctuary was completed, lovingly guided the young church from 1948 to 1955, and returned many years later to become a very active member of the church he had once pastored. A.A. Bratcher, 1955-1958, helped the church to grow spiritually and physically, and Thomas Mitchell led the church from 1958 to 1963, during any early time of real spiritual revival and outreach.
The church’s increase continued, and the need for space became apparent again. In 1963, a third sanctuary was constructed, allowing the older areas to be converted for educational use for a growing Sunday School. This project began an era in which the expansion of church facilities mirrored the most dynamic growth stage in the history of the church.
Gene McCombs was called as pastor in 1963 and served the church faithfully until 1976. During his pastorate, the Fellowship Hall area was added in 1965, providing not only fellowship space, but room for Sunday School growth as well. In 1969, under his guidance, another period of construction began which evidenced the diversity and specialization of ministries demanded by a large church.
In 1969, the Children’s Building was completed providing space specifically suited for the needs of the Preschool and Elementary Sunday Schools, and currently serving for our Weekday Education Program as well. This was followed in 1971 with the completion of the Adult Education Building, which now houses five of our Adult Sunday School Departments.
Young Tucker was called as pastor in 1976 and remained until 1981. It was during his tenure that the most recent and most extensive facility expansion was accomplished. At a cost of nearly two million dollars, the current auditorium and Family Life Center were constructed. This venture provided ample and flexible worship space for the church and expanded its ministry potential into the realm of recreation.
In 1982, the church called Dr. Larry Nixon from Riverside, California, to be its new pastor. During his ministry the church set about to update the facilities for their most effective use. Dr. Nixon, however, experienced recurring health problems and took medical retirement in 1989.
Soon after, Dr. Doug Dickens, professor of Pastoral Ministries at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, was called as interim pastor. For the next twenty months, he led the church to a sound ministry to its community and an awareness of the great potential of the First Baptist Church of Duncanville.
In September 1991, the church called Dr. Charles Walton as its pastor. Dr. Walton led the church to recommit to the basic truths of the Scripture and to the involvement of every member in finding a place of service in God’s kingdom. After Dr. Walton resigned, Dr. David Kirkpatrick served as interim from April 1995 to January 1996. He did a wonderful job of bridging the gap between pastors and focusing on the responsibility of the church members to share the work load and to be both flexible and supportive when a new pastor could be called.
Brother Keith Brister became our pastor in February of 1996. His spark of enthusiasm and high energy level have ignited the flame of concern among the church members, and his messages, that begin with our responsibility for the work of the Lord in our church family and community, are providing the stability that we need to do His commandments.
The Lord has blessed First Baptist Church through a relatively short history of growth and change to allow it to become what it is now, a church with one of the greatest potential for ministries of any in this area. We thank Him for His blessing and pray that His will may be fulfilled through us.