Telephone Baptist to Hold Dedication of New Auditorium Sunday
By Jacqueline White
This is a very special weekend for members of Telephone Baptist Church. They will dedicate their fourth auditorium at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Saturday, April 27th at 6:30 p.m. church members, former pastors and friends will gather together for fellowship at the church.
The new auditorium, started in April 1995 and recently completed, will hold 300 people. Church members not only donated their time to help with construction, but through their monetary donations the new auditorium is debt free. Members of the building committee included William Phillips, descendant of the family that donated the original land to the church, Ron McKinney and Jack McCraw.
According to church history their earliest records told about early members meeting in conference on March 3, 1883. E. W. Owens was reelected as pastor at that time so the church was meeting for some time before that. How long the church had been in existence and how it actually came into existence there is no record of.
Early records of the church refer to it as "Missionary Baptist Church of Christ meeting at High Prairie." Around the turn of the century it was called simply "High Prairie Missionary Baptist Church." In 1935 the name was changed from High Prairie to Telephone Baptist Church.
The earliest records speak of electing messengers to the associational annual meeting. From this it seems evident that the Church was associated with the Southern Baptist from its earliest beginnings.
Charter members included the Martin family, Pinkey, Salley, Houston, Emmitt Martin, Isaac and Jo Cain, L. P. Hawkins, Marietta Hawkins, J. G. Phillips, Mary E. Phillips, W. H. Harris, A. W. Phillips, Thomas Phillips, and D. R. Bernethy and Keens and Owens families.
It wasn't long after the church was formally organized that plans for a building to worship in began to fall in place. On Dec. 1, 1883, J. G. Phillips deeded two acres of land located one mile east of Telephone to the church. ON the following Sunday a committee was appointed to assist in building the first church. It consisted of Bro. Phillips, Martin and Bernethy. Until the building was completed members met in each others homes.
By April 1884, the Missionary Baptist Church of Christ at High Prairie had a fine building in which to gather and worship. That is a fact that has remained to this day, but the place of worship has gone through many changes through the years.
The first major change made on the building was in 1902 when the church added a room to their original building. Outside of replacing the revival Brush Arbor with a more modern shed in 1928, there seem to have been no major changes until 1936 when, after much discussion and controversy, the church voted 32 to 13 to move to the Gin lot in Telephone. The building was torn down and moved to Telephone where it now stands. The move made and the building dedicated at its new located in 1937.
The shed that had replaced the old Brush Arbor was left behind in the move, so a new one was built for revivals at the new location in 1938. It remained in use until modern air-conditioning made indoor meetings more attractive than outdoor revivals. It was torn down in the 1960's.
It did not take long, however, for the growing church to need to make more space for Sunday School. In 1955, the church voted to build a new auditorium and moved the old one back to be made into Sunday School classrooms. This work was completed and dedicated on the first Sunday in June, 1959.
The building was maintained without major changes until 1980 when the decision was made to completely remodel the building inside and out. The face lift included bricking the outside as well as renewing the inside of the building.
One of the significant building projects of the church was the building of the parsonage in 1949. This building has had two rooms and a carport added in the years since. It has contributed to the ministry of the church by allowing their pastors to live on the field.
It is hoped that many former pastors will attend this weekends festivities.
Early pastors of the church include the Rev. E. M. Hunt, Rev. E. Owens and Rev. P. H. Sweey (1880's).
In the church history there are many notes about evangelists and former pastors. It was noted that Evangelist A. B. Little was accustomed to carrying a "monkey wrench" to the pulpit with him. When there were not enough "Amen's" he would pull it out and threaten the deacons with it!
The history also makes note of the wonderful times when the people of the community would tie their horse and buddies under the trees and crowd underneath a brush arbor to hear the Gospel preached and sung, and to see their friends, neighbors and loved ones saved, until today, there has been those special occasions when God worked a special way.
Pastor Kenny Ballard is the current minister of the church and has served the congregation for the past three eyars. he extends an invitation to members of the community to visit their new facility.
The article below, and the photo to the right, are from the Bonham Daily Favorite, April 26, 1996.
The photo to the right is from 1956.
View the booklet Telephone Baptist Church History, 1883-1983.
1883 - 1890 E. W. Owens
1890 - 1894 J. P. Morris
1894 - 1899 P. H. Swenny
1899 - 1903 C. B. Hammett
1903 - 1905 Bro. Peppins
1905 - 1906 J. Jentry
1906 - 1910 R. L. Keene
1910 - 1912 Ben H. Milam
1912 - 1912 W. E. Davis
1912 - 1912 Ben H. Milam
1917 E. E. Fincher
1918 A. M. Phillips
1920 B. F. Milam
1921 W. L. Brulo
1922 - 1923 G. C. Jenkins
1925 - 1929 Thomas Reece
1931 T. B. Randolph
1932 - 1933 C. E. Fite
1934 - 1935 J. M. Simmons
1936 I. A. Bentley
1938 A. T. Willis
1939 - 1941 W. O. Cure
1942 - 1943 Reginald D. Washington
1944 W. L. Howell
1947 Ivan L. Paulk
1948 - 1949 D. J. Williams
1950 Jim Cunningham
1951 R. E. Prince
1953 - 1955 Harold Johnson
1956 - 1957 W. F. Thornton
1958 - 1961 Jess Bigbee
1962 - 1964 Harry McKain
1965 - 1968 Robert Clement
1969 - 1970 Sam Burnett
1971 - 1972 James Seigler
1973 - 1975 Robert D. Witt
1976 Harold Hicks
1977 - 1979 James O. Henry
1980 Milton Kresse
1980 - 1983 Dwayne Mitchell
Charter members - Pictured is the Martin family, Pinkey and Salley Martin, Houston and Emmitt Martin, and Isaac and Jo Cain. Other charter member's names found in the minutes were: L. P. Hawkins and wife, Marietta; J. G. Phillips and wife, Mary E.; W. H. Harris, A. W. Phillips; Thomas Phillips; and D. R. Berneth and Keenes and Owens families.
From the files of the Fannin County Historical Commission.