IT HAS BEEN VERY DIFFICULT TO FIND OUT JUST WHEN DID THE GOSPEL WAS PREACHED IN ROCKDALE FOR THE FIRST TIME, AS NO RECORDS EXIST. MOST OF THE INFORMATION RECEIVED, JUST CAME FROM PERSONS WHO "remembered those daysĒ.
In 1905, a Baptist layman came from Mexico (Villa de Fuentes, Coahuila) to work in the coal mines here in Rockdale, and began to witness for Christ. His name was Fidel Rodriguez.
In 1913-1920 Brother Leon Pardo (a Cuban), came as a missionary to the Latin-Americans by the Milam County Baptist Association.
During this time a congregation was formed and the First Baptist Church in Rockdale organized the First Mexican Baptist Church: a church house was built in one of the mines, but no one seems to remember who gave the money to build it, but it is believed that the Mexicans did it, for the work was going great and it is believed that the congregation grew to about a hundred or more in number.
The congregation was disbanded when the mines ceased to operate, and no one knows what happened to the building.
We hear that the work started again in 1933 when Brother Moises Robledo, pastor of the First Mexican Baptist Church in Cameron, Texas came. He held services in a Hall that belonged to the Latin-American community, out of the city limits of Rockdale on the highway to Milano. Of the people that accepted Christ as their personal Saviour during that time and were baptized, only one is a member of our Mission at the present, she is Mrs. Simona Alonzo. Brother Robledo is still remembered by many as a wonderful worker for the Lord. His ministry ended when he was killed in a car wreck near Cameron in 193.
In the mid-forties (1945, 1946) a student in Howard Payne College at that time, Bro. Van Earl Hughs came to preach not more than twice a month. The meetings were held at the same hall.
In 1947, Brother Isidro Garcia, Pastor of the First Mexican Church in Cameron, came to preach and hold Sunday school once a week. The meetings continued to be in the Hall, but later were held at the Young Peopleís Department of the First Baptist Church on Green Street. During this time members of the First Church (Betty Jo Jordan, Mrs. Dee McCoy and Katherine Melton) helped as Sunday School teachers, Mrs. L. B. Jones is also mentioned as a worker. According to a record book, the enrollment in S. S. in 1953 was 3t, and the average attendance was 12. The largest offering recorded from Feb. 1952- October 1955 was $5.61. During the last week in July 1952, a revival was held by two students at Howard Payne College, Brother Joel Becerra and Brother Ezequiel Cervantes. During these years only one member is recorded as tither, the late Mrs. Magdalena C. Garza. Brother Isidro Garcia ended his ministry here in the fall of 1955. In 1954 another revival was held by two students.
In February 1956 Brother Armando Virgen, Pastor of the First Mexican Baptist Church in Cameron came to minister to the people in Rockdale. The services were still held at the young People's Department of First Church, once a week.
In December of 1955 it was announced by the late Rev. M. M. Fulmer, Pastor of First Church, that the Minerva Baptist Church had voted to give their church building and property to the Latin-Americans. A Committee was named to see about a lot to set the building on.A lot was given on 518 Rice Street by the J. O. Newton heirs for this purpose in April 1956. So it was at that time that the church building was moved from Minerva. The property at Minerva was sold later and the money was used to make repairs on the building at its new location. So it was the 20th of May 1956 at 3:00 p.m. that the first service was held at our Mission. For some time Brother Virgen came twice a week to hold services. On July 26, 1956, the first business meeting was held at the Mission and the officers were named as follows: Sunday School Superintendent, Evaristo Nieto (a member of the Assembly of God Church in (Rockdale); Sunday School Secretary, Vicente Jimenez, Jr.; Teacher for the Adult Class, Mrs. Frances Jimenez; Young People's Class, Miss Lidia Nieto; Mission Clerk, Maximo Alonzo (just a believer, not a member then); Treasurer, Eraclio Nieto; Children's S. S. Class Teacher, Miss Maria Reyes: Song Leader, Josue Cabrera (member of the Mexican Baptist Church in Cameron). At this time a committee was named to see about a sign for the Mission. Eraclio Nieto; was named chairman of this committee, and Maximo Alonzo and Noemi Nieto were named as his helpers It was also voted to have a Vacation Bible School in August of that year. Misses Dora Virgen and Marcelina Trinidad were invited to be in charge (these were college students). A donation of $10.00 was to be given to each of these young ladies.
In March 1959, it was voted that the men from the Mission and itís visitors, be in charge of keeping the lawn in good shape, each one took his turn. Since 1956 up to this date there has been a revival every year. The regular Mission services were held at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday and were usually cancelled once a month in order that the pastor would attend the Paul C. Bell Association. Brother Virgen finished his ministry in Rockdale, April 30, 1959. During his ministry the financial income at the Mission began increasing, regular business meetings were held.
June 7, 1959, Brother Cornelio Rivera, came as missionary of the Milam County Association, for the Latin-Americans. He lived at Cameron and at the beginning came to hold services twice a week in our Mission. Only two S. S. classes were held, the Adult Class and the Children's class, and a Vacation Bible School was held every year, with heIpers from the First Church.
In June 1959 the Mission began contributing to the Mexicanís Baptist Children's home in San Antonio with $2.00, also to the Paul C. Bell Association with the same amount. In December of this same year the Mission contributed to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering with the amount of $100.00. In 1960, with $16.23 and in 1961 with $30.00. Contributions were made to the Cooperative Program regularly. A nice used piano was bought on installments on December 1, 1961, at the price of $350.00. Brother Riveraís ministry at the mission ended in the month of July 1962.October 6, 1962, Brother Rogelio R. Martinez came as the Mission's first resident Pastor and during his first year, with God's help, you can see what we have been able to do, as you see through this scrapbook. It has not been so easy, but we can say with the Apostle Paul: "I can do all things through Christ which strengthened me.Ē
CHURCH: The Primera Mision Bautista is the only Evangelical Church with a resident Pasta r and a full program. There is another church for too Latin Americans, and that is the Assembly of God Church, but they do not have a pastor. Of course, there is a Catholic Church with a resident Priest. Our Mission is sponsored by the First Baptist Church, whose pastor is the Rev. J. N. Foreman. We also get financial aid from the Milam Association and the State Board in Dallas. This has been a busy year and we have had to learn many things, We feel that God has been with us. Our present membership is 21, of these six have joined our Mission by letter and two by baptism (we lost one member by death). We have our Sunday school with 45 enrolled, and five classes. Our Training Union has 22 enrolled and three Unions. Our W. H.S. Circle has 11 enrolled, our Brotherhood has 4 enrol1ed and the Sun Beam Band has 10. The women meet on Monday, Wednesday we have prayer meeting and teachers and officers meeting, on Thursday we have service in the home of a non--believer, on Friday the Brotherhood has its meeting and on Sunday we have a full schedule. And these we say are our opportunities to serve God! Town: Rockdale is a town of 4,481 residents. It's important because of the Alcoa Aluminum Plant and the Sandow power plant. The Coffield interests offer jobs for many of the Latin-Americans in Rockdale. In many ways it has the facilities of a big city. Very few of the Latin-Arnericans leave their homes to follow the crops. The town has good schools and LatinAmericans are well accepted in public places.
OUR PASTOR: Is the Rev. R. R. Martinez, who came to our Mission from EI Dorado, Texas, last October. He studied at the Mexican Baptist Bible Institute in San Antonio, Texas. He is married and has four children. He was born in Zaachila, Oaxaca, Mexico. but is now a citizen of the United States of America. He entered the ministry in 1957 and this is his third pastorate.
WORKERS IN The CHURCH: Pastor, R. R. Martinez; Church Clerk, Mrs. Frances Jimenez; Treasurer, Mrs. Mary Ann Nieto and Pianist, Mrs. R. R. Martinez. Reporter is Mrs. Beatrice Juarez.ADDITIONS BY BAPTISM: Daniel Lopez and Olivia Castillo OUR SUNDAY SCHOOL: Enrollment, 45. Superintendent, Eddie Nieto, Secretary, Mary Ann Nieto. Teachers: Mrs. Ofelia Lopez, Nursery; Mrs. Leona Castillo, Beginner's; .Mrs. Caroline Valverde, Primary; Mrs. Beatrice Juarez, Juniors; Mrs. R. R. Martinez, Adult. OUR TRAINING UNION: Membership 22. Director, Mrs. Frances Jimenez; secretary, R. R. Martinez; Adult Union President, Mrs. Mary Ann Nieto; Group Captains, Mrs. Simona Alonzo and Eddie Nieto; Beginner and Primary Union Leaders, Mrs. R. R. Martinez and Mrs. Ofelia Lopez and Junior Union Leader, Mrs. Beatrice Juarez. OUR W M S CIRCLE: Membership 11. Circle Chairman, Mary Ann Nieto; Secretary-Treasurer, Leona Castillo. OUR SUN BEAM BAND: Membership 10. Counselors, Mrs. Leona Castillo and Mrs. Frances Jimenez. OUR BROTHERHOOD UNION: Membership 4. President - Patrocinio Galvan, Secretary-Treasurer, Eraclio Nieto.
I can say with all my heart, that the church achievement program has been a blessing to my ministry in the Primera Mision Bautista in Rockdale, God has used this program in our Mission to the development of the membership, in their responsibilities. We have been made more aware of the needs in our Mission, in our community and in our world. A new desire has come to our lives to serve others, in the name of Christ. To me it seems that the Church Achievement Program is a program that God has placed in the hands of the Baptist people for its development.
The promotion of the work as a whole was done by the Chairmen of the committees:I. Toward a Better Church
The only publicity that was done through the local newspaper was made when it was announced that our mission had entered the Church Achievement Program. The pictures were taken by the different people in our mission. Everybody contributed...
Project No. 1 - Calendar of Activities
The Calendar of Activities has not only been a source of information but has helped promote the work. It has also promoted fellowship among the Missionís membership, for it also carries the birthdates of the members.
Project No. 2 - Regular Visitation through Sunday school
This work has been done by the Sunday School Secretary checking the absentees, the Sunday School Superintendent giving the list to the teachers, and the teachers and Pastor doing the visitation. This is done every week at the Teacherís and Office's Meeting on Wednesday evening. So this is the way we keep in touch with our members. We are hoping that in the near future we can set a definite day and time to do this work, for now we are doing it weekly but not altogether, as everyone does it when they can.
Project No. 5 - Promote Tithing
This has been done by preaching, displaying posters, testimonies by the members and by distributing literature about this matter among the Mission member's. Most of our adults tithe - when they get an income, for most of our adult members are women who do not work outside the home. Some of our children tithe also, when they get an income. More and more it is felt by some of the members, that this is the biblical way to give and that a Christian should be found faithful in this matter.
Project No. 6 - Promote Bible Reading and Study
Special emphasis has been given to this project by the Sunday school teachers encouraging their pupils to use the Bible in the class room as well as in giving the devotional on Sunday morning. Our Pastor has promoted this especially during Prayer meetings by letting the members have Scripture readings, or he leads in Bible drills. Even the primary age children take part in this. Our Continued Study Course has helped in this matter, for we have to search the scriptures quoted in the book, read them and learn them, that we may know just where to find them. In our W.M.S. Circle we have a regular Bible Study once a month and this has encouraged many to spend more time reading and studying the Bible. Every family in our Mission gets a copy of the Home Life Magazine in English or Spanish.
Project No. 7 - Observe the Lordís Supper every three months.Since the Mission came into existence, only twice had the Lordís Supper been observed. Since we took this project it has been observed every three months. To carry this out we get the aid of two deacons from the First Baptist Church. We began observing the Lordís Supper the first Sunday in December rod have done so every three months. We get the help from the deacons of the First Baptist Church, as we do not have a deacon yet, in our Mission.
Project No. 9 - Finance Committee
This committee was named - that it would be a help to out Mission Treasurer. Before this committee existed, the treasurer would have to be asking different ones to help her count the money, and then, whenever she was absent the Pastor would have to look up for two persons to count the money. This was not done because of lack of confidence, but to avoid mistakes. This committee has been a great aid to our treasurer, for they are responsible for counting the money even if the treasurer is absent. And, of course it has relieved the pastor.
Project No. 10 - Organize the Brotherhood Union
This project was a very difficult one, for there are only had three men in our Mission, beside our Pastor, and of these three, one is inactive. But God worked in such a way that a friend of our Pastor got in touch with him, seeking to corne as a resident to the United States. Through the help of our Pastor, Bro. Patrocinio Galvan came to live in Rockdale, and then a few weeks later the Brotherhood Union was organized with Bro. Galvan as its president. They meet weekly on Friday and they seem to be off to a good start . . . with Godís help. They have only been organized since the last week in July, that is the reason not more can be reported.
Project No. 11 - Organize the Sunbeam Band
Lack of personnel is always a handicap, but once more it has been proven that: where there s a will, there is a way. This is just what happened when we tried to organize the Sun Beam Band. Plans had been made to organize a Primary Sun Beam Band and 8. Beginner Sun Beam Band, but because of the lack of personnel we are unable to do it. So a mixed Band was organized with Mrs. Leona Castillo and Ms. Frances Jimenez as Counselors. Eight children were enrolled and a larger number is expected. Some children attending are: Roberto Castillo, Martin Lopez, Sammy Lopez, Robbie-Ruth Martinez, Tito Martinez, Tabilth Martinez, Manuel Lopez,JR., & Ezequiel Valverde.
Project No. 12- Organize a Youth Choir
This has been one of our most enjoyable projects, as there is nothing sweeter than to hear a group of youngsters raise their voices to praise the Lord. It has not been easy to have regular practice at times, but somehow we have managed (with Godís help) to keep on. The choir has sung several times in our worship services. Their director is Mrs. Beatrice Juarez and the pianist is Mrs. Fl. R. Martinez. Some of the children are even learning to read some Spanish just by being in the choir and others, of course, are improving in their English as we sing in both languages.
Project No. 13 - Establish a Nursery Fund
The establishment of this fund was a must, as we don't .have enough nor adequate space to take care of our younger children. We feel that because we don t have the facilities of a nursery, we are being handicapped in the work, to a certain point. So many of our prospects would come if we only could offer them an adequate place to keep their children while they attend the services. Our fund is increasing very slowly, we only have $32.00, but we are trusting God that someday we will see our dream come true: a nursery for our children.
Project No. 14 - Church Sign
Our Mission changed its name from Templo Bautista to Primera Mision Bautista, in a regular business meeting January the Second, 1963. So a new sign was needed to announce its new name. A larger one made of plywood replaced the smaller one made of heavy Cardboard.
Project No. 15 - Committee to plan Social and Recreation Activities
This committee planned the following activities during the year:1. a Halloween party for the children and adults
Project No. 16 - Observe Special Days
The following days were observed:1. Christmas with a program
Project No. 1 - Have a Kindergarten
Our Kindergarten was opened January 21, 1961 at our Mission with 11 children enrolled. Only three of these children came from Christian homes. Mrs. R. H. Martinez was the teacher. She is a graduate of the Seminario Teologico Bautista Mexicano in Paso, Texas. Some of the students were: Delia Reyes, Roberto Tovar, Mary Helen Flores, David Lee Ortega. Roberto Flores, Mary Elan Ortega, Yolanda Ortega, Elizabeth Juarez, Tito Martinez, Robbie Ruth Martinez, and Tony Jimenez
Project No. 2 - Honor Latin-American Students who Finish High School
Three Latin-Americans graduated from Rockdale High School in May. They were: Dolores Munoz, Manuel Garcia and Stella Munoz. A party was given in their honor at the lawn of our mission, where they received many nice gifts.
Project No. 3 - Committee to look After the Sick and Needy in our Community Much of this work has been done through the community missions of our WMS Circle. A layette was given to the Richardís clinic for a needy baby. Children were taken care of when the mother was at the hospital. Clothes were given to the needy in our community. A donation of $10.00 was given to help a person who came to live in our community. Our pastor gave hair cuts to needy children. Some of our women took sick persons to the Doctors office.
Project No. 4 - A Better Parking Place
Much has been done in trying to carry out this project, but little has been accomplished toward it. The main obstacle that we ran into was that the limits of the property were unknown. It was not until this summer that we found out that we had been parking in someone elseís property. The present parking place is at the back of our Mission. But plans for the new parking place are for it to be in front, just off the street.
Project No. 5 - Get the Deeds to the Property of our Mission in Clear
Much has been done toward this project, but to no avail, A great effort a been done to secure the deeds, but every time a contact is made about this matter, we are asked to go to a second person and this has been most discouraging... but we are still insisting and will continue until we get the deeds. We know the property is the Missionís but we cannot prove it, and therefore we have been unable to carry out other projects that are important to us. The Mission only owned a lot, but since we have been investigating about the deeds, a half lot has been given by the same person who donated the first lot. So if we have not gotten the deeds in clear, we have gotten a half of a lot more, and of course this is to our advantage, because not knowing the limits to the property, this half lot had been kept as part of the missionís lawn.
Project No. 6 - Repair the water faucets on the Mission Property
The water faucets in the yard were repaired. And now instead of running after a pair of pliers every time water is needed, the faucets are opened in a natural way. The faucet in the kitchen sink had a few disorders that were also corrected. This work was done by some of the men in our mission. Even though our mission gets the water free of charge, our men thought it was best to get things in order and save the city some water.
Project No. 7 - Beautify the Property
Our plans for this project were limited on the account that the limits of the property were unknown. Before January, the Mission paid for cutting the yard. But since then, the men in our Mission have taken turns month after month and week after week to see that the property is kept clean. This has been done voluntarily and without pay. A new sprinkler has been bought to water the lawn. A new door knob has been put in the front door of the building, and of course, it helps on the looks. Our men have done some improvements in electrical work. One switch controlled all the electric current and there was only one outlet in the entire building. Now an outlet has been installed at points of advantage and also some switches have been installed. Also a florescent light was installed above the pulpit to give the preacher a better light, Brother Gil Juarez and the Pastor did this work. And so the property has been beautified, for at least there are no more electric cords on the floor, which were a constant danger.
TOWARD A BETTER WORLD
Project No. 1 - Help in a vacation bible school for the colored children
It was our desire to carry out this project, but it so happened that the Springfield Baptist Church (the church we had planned to help) did not have one. We made a contact -with them since the month of May, about this matter, but since they do not have a resident Pastor and he comes only twice a month, time went by and when we checked again, they had decided not to have one this year. So we did what we thought was the next best thing. Several of our women and our Pastor went and had a mornings activities with the children from that church. Songs were sung, story was told, games were played and refreshments were served. 25 children were present for the occasion. To our women who went and had charge of the activities, this project was a blessing. We were told that this was the first time anyone had done such a thing for them.
Project No. 2 - Two Weeks Vacation for Our Pastor
This project was left to him. But he decided not to take his vacation yet. So this project will be carried out whenever our pastor takes vacation. He has the permission of the congregation for this vacation.
Project No. 3 - Citizenship Classes and Help Someone Study the Driverís Handbook
One person has been given Citizenship classes and has been taken to take the test before and Examiner. This person is Mrs. Natividad Flores from Thorndale. She has received help every week along his line. It has not been easy, as Mrs. Flores does not know how to read or write, she can only sign her name. Help was given to one person in an indirect way for the study of Driverís Handbook.
Project No. 4 - Visit the Jail
As the jail that keeps prisoners at all times is 16 miles away in Cameron, we were only able to visit t the jail once. And then we could not get in for the jailer was not there and they do not have regular hours for visitation. One just has to guess. But a number of Home Life magazines and tracts were left with a note to the Jailer, to pass these out to the inmates.
Project No.5 - Promote an Increase on the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering
This was done by giving information on how the money is used, by using the members to give some of this information themselves, by informing of the needs and appealed to our Christian love. And our pastor tried to set an example of self-denial, by giving the money that was to be spent in his children' s Christmas presents to Missions (of course his family was willing to do this). The WMS Circle Chairman gave full support to all the emphasis in every way she could. The pastor gave time of the service Sunday morning for the Women to give a summary of the whole week's program on Missions. Not a single penny was taken from the Missionís treasure, but all was given by individuals. Everyone tried to encourage someone else to give to this wonderful cause. The WMS Circle Chairman made a very attractive poster consisting of "a crownĒ that was adorned with "diamonds" as the money was given. The goal was $25.00, but the amount given was $55.00
Project No. 6 - Show Filmstrips or Slides About Missions
We were only able to show a filmstrip about Missions, so far. The title was: Missions at Our Back door", this was given in preparation for the week of prayer for state Missions. Arrangements have already been made to have a filmstrip or slide shown about Missions more often.
WORK THAT WAS DONE WITHOUT HAVING IT AS PROJECTS1. Two Teaching stands
Fifty were enrolled. There are 4 departments. Two rededications and seven professions of faith. The average attendance was 30, and the offering of $4.07 was sent to the cooperative program.
The workers were: Mrs. Leona Castille, Jr.; Mrs. Lillian Ortiz & Mrs. Simona Alonzo, Nursery; Beatrice Juarez, Jr.; Mrs. Frances Jimenez, Beginners; Mrs. R. R. Martinez, pianist & primary; and the Pastor, principal. Mrs. Juarez also served as song leader and Mrs. Ortiz as general secretary.
Without any doubt we can say that the Church Achievement Program has helped us to take a new look into the future and be more aware of the needs in our mission, our community and our world. In the future we see a better trained personnel, believing more in Missions, giving more to Missions, more people save, a larger congregation, a building with better facilities, a definite program for people of other races in our community, all of this, for the Glory of God!
Since this book was made we have had the following pastors:Rev. Aaron Guajardo, 1965-1966
We became a church on December 18, 1966 with the name Iglecia Bautista Antioquia at 518 Rice Street. There were 20 charter members. We had our first service at our present location February 18, 1968. This is 339 San Gabriel St.
We must say a special thank you to Norine Daniel Katich of Jacksonville, FL, for re-typing the above church history for use on the Milam County TXGenWeb site.
Created on 19 Aug 2004 and last revised on _________ 2004