In 1869, some of the earliest residents of the town that became Whitehouse began gathering to worship each Sunday. Those early worshippers founded what is now known as First Baptist Church of Whitehouse.
From 10 a.m. to noon on Sunday, First Baptist Church of Whitehouse will celebrate its 150th anniversary with worship and special events. Many former members who have moved to other places will return to celebrate, along with current congregation members, church members said.
Some families having been worshiping at the church for several generations.
“I think it is just wonderful that my granddaughter, Macy Claire, is the sixth generation of our family to belong to First Baptist,” Nancy Shahan Coats said. “My great-great-grandparents were charter members and each generation that followed has been a member of this church.
“First Baptist continues to lead that next generation to Christ and teach His word,” she said. “The world has changed a lot since 1869 but the message is still the same. Whether it is missions, music, children, youth or senior adults, FBC has served the Lord by serving His people, His community.”
The church has prided itself as being a cornerstone of faith in the community.
“FBC has always been known as a place of prayer for needs in our community or in our country,” longtime member Edith Brewer said. “People have come together here to pray, to cry and to love on each other. God is the head of FBC, and Jesus Christ is emphasized in every thing the church does.”
On land purchased from the Carlton family on July 17, 1887, the small congregation built a one-room building nestled in a pine grove near present-day Willingham Road to hold worship services.
In 1901, the congregation built a frame structure on the corner of Texas Highway 110 and Farm-to-Market Road 346 and adopted the name, Whitehouse Baptist Church. The pastor at the time was the Rev. M.L. Fuller.
The church adopted the name First Baptist Church in the early 1920s after building a brick building with a sanctuary that seated 175 people on land purchased from the A.J. Shahan Estate, records show. The congregation was led by the Rev. J.R. Rozelle.
Ten years later, the church purchased land just to the east of that building and added rooms for children’s and youth departments.
Throughout the next decades membership grew to close to 700.
On May 28, 1978, the congregation voted to buy 7 acres farther east on Main Street and conducted a bond drive in which $500,000 in bonds were sold in two weeks, records show. On Nov. 2, 1980, the first worship service was held in the new 18,360-square-foot facility.
Not long after that, construction began on a family life center.
By 1989, church membership topped 900 and on Sept. 10 of that year the congregation dedicated a historical marker and celebrated its 120th anniversary. Remodels and additions to the church have continued over the most recent three decades.