The History of the First Baptist Church of Fort Worth, Texas

In 1935, Norris accepted a second pastorate in addition to his Fort Worth church, Temple Baptist Church. This marked the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the First Baptist Church, as it applied for membership of the Tarrant Baptist Association on October 8, 1990. During Gough's administration, the church held services at the Tarrant County Courthouse until it burned down in the spring of 1876. After nearly seventy years, on October 14, 1991, the First Baptist Church of Fort Worth was fully readmitted to the Tarrant Baptist Association as an accredited member of the Texas Baptist General Convention. The Industrial Home for the Redemption of the Wandering Girls in Berachah was one of more than two hundred rescue homes that existed in the United States during the Third Great Awakening. In 1974, this facility was sold to Calvary Temple, and the First Baptist Church met in the Tandy School building.

The church lost at least 600 members in 1911 after a split, and the following year it lost its building and the pastor's house to a fire. In July 1931, the First Baptist Church established the Premillenium Baptist Missionary Fraternity. This organization was divided into four groups: World, Bible, Southwide and Independent Baptist Fellowship. Each group acts as an independent organization. Under this provision, the church was encouraged to participate in all activities and responsibilities of the association. Special efforts were made to help the congregation better understand the work of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Morgan Wells served as pastor from 1886-1896 and during this time, membership grew to 541 members. The church built a new building with 1,100 seats on Taylor and Third Streets and hosted the organizational meeting of the Tarrant County Baptist Association on October 14, 1886 and the Southern Baptist National Convention in May 1890. John Franklyn Norris was called as pastor in 1907 and he owned and published The Baptist Standard from 1907 to 1909. Discord and internal rivalry arose in 1945 when Norris' son George became pastor of a dissident party that broke away from the First Baptist Church. On July 18, 1926, Norris shot and killed a Fort Worth lumberjack, Dexter Elliot Chipps, in the church office. Because of Norris' continued open criticism of the Southern Baptist Convention, his decision to discard SBC literature, his attacks on SBC schools (in particular Baylor University) and his spirit of lack of cooperation, the Tarrant County Baptist Association withdrew scholarship from the church in 1922. Two members of Lonesome Dove Baptist Church - Betty Tanner and Frances Hogue - investigated records which showed that two men from a caravan were so impressed with Texas that they returned to Missouri in 1945 and persuaded other family members to travel there.

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