Like a mighty rock against battering tides, Eighth Street Baptist Church has stood firm for 135 years.
Its cornerstone proclaims the Old Testament’s enduring words: “Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.”
Last Saturday evening, the Rev. Dr. Charles E. Maze, pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church, Temple, was the keynoter at a banquet at the Hilton Garden Inn marking the church’s 135th anniversary of its founding.
This past Sunday at 10 a.m., the Rev. Dr. Delvin Atchison, director of the Great Commission of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, was guest preacher. The service was open to the public.
Former pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Waco, Atchison in 2015 was named to the Great Commission Team as part of the convention restructure to better address the discipleship process and evangelism training.
Guiding historical research for several years has been longtime members Lydia Dawson and Willie J. Phillips who have been digging through deeds, censuses, city directories and news clippings. They interviewed old-timers and spent hours in libraries and archives. Dawson’s ancestors were also members, and her mother, Willie Ruth Jenkins (1920-2007) was the organist and choir director for 40 years. Their labor of love helps the congregation to define, appreciate and plan for the future.
Eighth Street is part of the National Baptist Convention, a historically black religious organization founded in 1880 in Alabama. Six years later, 600 delegates from 17 states formed the National Baptist Convention of America.
The history of Eighth Street church closely parallels the migration of Texas’ African-Americans from slavery to agricultural workers to city dwellers. The Rev. Lewis W. Mackey (1864-1930) organized the Saint Love All Baptist Church in 1882, when Temple was barely a year old and the country was barely 15 years away from the War Between the States. With the influx of new settlers into former farmland, workers of all races and backgrounds converged to lay tracks and build infrastructure into the newly hatched railroad town.
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SOURCE: Temple Daily Telegram – Patricia Benoit