Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX


May 2, 2014

Church celebrates 100 years

Maydelle FBC has rich history

MAYDELLE — Founded a mere four years after Maydelle was established as a townsite in 1910, on Sunday, the Maydelle First Baptist Church commemorated its 100th anniversary with a celebration that drew a large group of former members.

“We probably had about 120 people there,” said Pastor Rusty Sherman, who was named minister 18 months ago. “A number of those guests were former pastors and some of their families.”

When the church first formed on Feb. 8, 1914, it had 37 members who previously attended area churches, said James Blaylock, who served as pastor from 1970 to 1986.

Area church members “joined together for revivals, and so there were 37 people from these churches who went to the new church,” he said.

Four men – the Rev. Perry Holleyman and I.S. Russell, along with Deacon W.A. Callaway – formed a presbytery to organize the church, and soon after, John T. Ferguson was named as Maydelle First Baptist Church's first pastor.

The Maydelle church was a member of the American Baptist Association, then in 1950, became part of the Baptist Missionary Association.

Part of the original church – an auditorium – still stands, Sherman said. “I believe the first building was constructed about a year after the church was founded, built on property someone donated to the congregation,” he said.

Maydelle First Baptist Church is located at 174 CR 1801 in Maydelle.

Through the years, the original church building has been renovated and added onto, including a baptistry constructed during Blaylock's tenure – “before that, baptisms were held in a local pond on property that one of the church members had nearby,” he said.

While he was there, “we remodeled and built Sunday School rooms” at the church, Blaylock recalled.

Sherman said other projects included a fellowship hall area that was later enlarged, bricking of the exterior and remodeling of the sanctuary.

“People worked hard to carry out their commission as a church,” Blaylock said, starting up individual youth groups for boys and for girls, as well as launching the church's vacation Bible school program during his tenure.

“We had a lot of young people, as well as older people in the congregation, and my children grew up in that church,” he said, explaining that his highest attendance was close to 80.

Today, the congregation is slightly smaller, with approximately 50 to 60 attending Sunday morning services, Sherman said.

Other services include a 10 a.m. Sunday School that precedes the 11 a.m. worship service, and Wednesday night gatherings of the Pioneer Club for youths in the congregation.

Recently, church members hired Steven Davenport, a student at the Baptist Missionary Association Theological Seminary in Jacksonville, to serve as their youth director.

He will oversee the Pioneer Club, which has about 20 to 25 members ages four through fifth grade, as well as a group for older youths, which numbers about 10 teenagers.

At one point – during the 1940s or 1950s, Sherman said – the Maydelle church was home to about 400 to 450 members.

“This church was the second largest congregation in Cherokee County,” he said.

During Celebration Sunday, “some of the former pastors spoke about how very kind folks are here,” he added, describing his current congregation as being “kind to their pastor, they're kind to each other, they have a kind spirit. And they are so easy to work with.”

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