First Baptist Church of Gilmer will be hosting a 175th Anniversary Celebration Weekend on Saturday October 2 and Sunday October 3. The church is located at 304 Buffalo Street in Gilmer.
On Saturday October 2 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., there will be a reception in the South Building of the Gilmer Civic Center at 1218 Hwy 271 North next to Wal-Mart.
On Sunday October 3 at 10 a.m. there will be a special anniversary service followed by lunch in the church gymnasium. Local, state and national dignitaries have been invited to the anniversary service and Dr. David Hardage, president of the Texas Baptist General Convention, will be the guest speaker that day. Michael Beaty, former church music minister, will lead the service and there will be a full orchestra and choir for the service.
The church was organized in 1846 and met in a log cabin near the present railroad tracks, just east of the 700 block of North Montgomery Street.
In the early 1870s, a frame building was constructed on Titus Street, one block north of the downtown plaza.
In 1896, the church purchased land on the southeast corner of Buffalo and Trinity streets and a red brick building was constructed.
In 1903, the church began to have services every Sunday. Prior to 1903, a visiting preacher would drop by every two weeks for services and in 1907 the church called the first full-time pastor, Reverend JL Mahan of Mineola.
A new building was dedicated on the current property in 1911 and an education building was added in 1925. The sanctuary was renovated in 1946, with air conditioning and an elevated baptistery. Then, in 1956, a new educational wing was dedicated just west of the shrine.
On Christmas Day in 1967, after services ended, the church was destroyed by fire. The new sanctuary, which is still in use, was opened in 1969. Then, in the 1970s, the church purchased and renovated a 2-story building on the northeast corner of Buffalo and Trinity streets. A chapel, a youth recreation area and Sunday school facilities were included.
In the 1980s, Barnwell House on the southeast corner of Trinity and Cass streets was donated to the church by family members and it was converted to become the location of the church office . In 1988, the current sanctuary was renovated.
In 1991, the church purchased the land and building adjacent to the Barnwell property where the Denson Pharmacy was previously located. The building has been renovated and transformed into the home of Primera Iglesia Bautista, the Hispanic mission of the church. The church is no longer a mission and they have their own building at the intersection of North Bradford Street and Highway 154 West.
In 2003, the church built a family life center, child development center, and church office complex with additional educational space.
In 2009, the church joined with other churches in Upshur County to create a food bank, Upshur County Shares, to help needy families in the county.
The congregation called Pastor Mike Kessler in 2017 with a 100% vote. Brother Mike and his wife Amy came to FBC from Trinity Baptist Church in Mt. Pleasant where they had served for over 29 years.
The church is blessed with new growth and is expanding its ministries and mission opportunities.
The First Baptist Church congregation loves the community of Gilmer and enjoys serving families at the Church’s Child Development Center or in any other way we can serve or volunteer in the community.
The church’s mission statement is “Engage, Equip, Empower” and this is a point on which the church continues its rich history.
Recently, members voted unanimously to remodel the shrine and begin a phased construction project to replace the current educational space on Buffalo Street. The church continues to be excited about what God has in store here in Gilmer as they seek to serve more families and share the love of Jesus Christ with the community.
For more information, you can go to fbcgilmer.org or call the church office at 903-843-2572.
All former members and guests are welcome to attend this special celebratory weekend. We hope to see you!