First Baptist Church of Boerne was established on Sunday, August 14, 1898, when J.M. Mizzell met with six charter members to organize the church, which would begin meeting in each other’s homes. The church joined the Medina River Association on October 14, 1899.
In 1900, W. H. Price became the pastor. After Pastor Price’s term came the first of two long pastor-less periods.
On October 28, 1906, when J. B. Cole became pastor, he felt the church needed to be reorganized. Seventeen members were present for that meeting. The church then joined the San Antonio Association. In 1907, the San Antonio area missionary, J. J. Maurer, appointed a local property committee. Services were normally held Saturday evening, Sunday morning, and Sunday evening. Occasionally, two services were held on Sunday morning.
After John H. Pool was called as pastor on October 11, 1908, the church met regularly two Sundays each month in the Methodist church located at James and Pecan Streets. In good weather, baptisms were held in the old mill lake on Cibolo Creek, east of the Main Street bridge. In 1909, the church purchased a lot at 210 East Blanco Street. John Pool resigned on September 26, 1909. W. B. Herndon pastored the church from November 14, 1909 to August 6, 1912. He appealed several times to the state Baptist Missions Board for financial aid for the struggling church, but his request was denied because aid was only available to foreign missions at the time. After Pastor Herndon’s term, the second longest pastor-less period started. Area missionary W. H. Price and others served as supply pastors.
Charles H. Heimsath became pastor on August 13, 1916. He was the first to have his salary supplemented by the Home Missions Board. The Board continued to supplement the pastor’s salary until 1944. John C. and Mary Reinard sold a lot north of the courthouse in the 200 block of Blanco to the San Antonio Association Executive Board to be held in trust until such time as the church could build. Without building on it, the church voted to sell the 210 East Blanco property, and the more prominent 615 South Main location was purchased September 22, 1918. January 14, 1917, is the first recorded election of three trustees “to manage the business of the church.” Services were held in homes, and four people were baptized on October 18, 1918.
The new church was built in three stages because of a shortage of funds, and each stage was completed by a different pastor.
In the summer of 1919, R.H. Miller laid the foundation. He also organized the church’s first strictly Baptist Sunday School, which met in the old Foote Building. Offerings were sent for state educational and missions work.
During the warmer months of 1920, John C. Everett, who became pastor through the San Antonio Association on January 14, 1920, raised the walls. He also obtained two pledges from the National Home Missions Board in Atlanta, Georgia, sufficient to complete the building, but did not remain with the church long enough to see the pledges materialize.
S. P. Harris obtained the money from the pledges in February of 1922; however, the foundation had sat so long that a peach tree grew up through the middle of the floor and was bearing fruit! The one-room, 40′ x 50′ tile building was completed by the end of May 1923. The church moved into their new building June 10, 1923, some twenty-five years after the church was founded. On cold winter Sundays, the auditorium was heated by a large pot-belly stove.
The Women’s Missionary Union (WMU) organized on October 15, 1923, and an early project consisted of making clothes and quilts for the Buckner orphanage. They also sold quilts to pay the interest on the church note.
When Pastor Harris saw the church could not pay its note, he appealed to outside sources by writing letters. Money soon came in from everywhere, with the San Antonio Association paying the final $160 of the note.
The church was formally dedicated on October 25, 1925, and the notes and mortgages were burned January 31, 1926. Stucco was applied to the church exterior in 1927.
On October 9, 1927, the first Training Union was organized. Sunday School classes were separated by curtains hung from wires strung across the auditorium, and the number of Sunday School departments doubled from six to twelve. The church voted on December 11, 1927 to join other churches in town and have a Christmas tree at the theater. Pine pews were purchased September 11, 1928.
The church met every other week until 1944, and it had three ministers from the time it had its own building to the time it could afford a full-time pastor. Brother Harris remained with the church until 1932. F. W. Bartel, who came on November 1, 1932, divided his time between the Baptist churches in Fredericksburg and Boerne.
The church had its first Vacation Bible School on June 5, 1933, for two weeks. Soon the church was in need of space so the two-story Sunday School annex, was added to the rear of the church in August 1934. F. E. Kirchner, the last part-time pastor, served from 1936 to 1944. September 19, 1936, the church voted to give the September 20th church offering to the Mexican Seminary in San Antonio.
In the early days, the ladies of the church took turns each week cleaning the church, until a janitor was hired in 1937.
In February of 1938, a baptistry was installed and Mrs. Arthur Inscore was the first person to be baptized in it. The church built a rock veneer parsonage in the spring of 1940 at 113 East Hosack Street. Again, the pastor and men of the church helped the hired workers with the project.
The first recorded monthly teacher’s meeting was in June of 1940, a Baptist Brotherhood was organized on April 20, 1941, and the WMU began sponsoring the Sunbeams that year. A building program was started to refinish the auditorium and Sunday School classrooms and work on the annex. On January 16, 1944, the church voted to send kits for Russian relief.
During the term of Floyd Harris, young evangelist Billy Graham came to Boerne church twice, once in the fall of 1945 and again in the fall of 1946, to speak to the teens about Youth For Christ. May 8, 1945, the church voted to send a portion of the offering to the Cooperative Program.
Growth led to the remodeling of the annex in 1946. Under Leo Davis’ pastorship, the church purchased the adjoining lot to the north from the Ebensberger family and placed a temporary building from Camp Bullis on it for additional Sunday School space. The church also hired an architect to determine how to dress up the front of the church, and the auditorium received a face lift in 1947. July 17, 1947, the church voted to help send children to Alto Frio Baptist Encampment. On April 7, 1948, they voted to gravel the side street by the church and erect a permanent bulletin board in front of the church.
In 1948, the church voted to join the Medina Association while Wade Hopkins was pastor. The San Antonio Association had asked the church if they minded moving to a less crowded association with their Hill Country neighbors. The WMU divided into two circles in 1948 and reactivated the Girls in Action (GAs).
In the summer of 1951, while Joe Jetton was pastor, the church voted to build the flat-roofed Sunday School building to the rear of the church, greatly increasing the church’s educational space. The building was built by Harry V. Steel with a flat roof so that a second story could be added later if needed. Provision was made for restrooms, an office, and minor changes to the auditorium. On October 10, 1951, the church sponsored a banquet for the football boys, and in 1952, the WMU began sponsoring the Royal Ambassadors (RAs) for the boys.
In mid-1954, members voted to have a Senior Banquet and a youth-led Revival. In September 1954, Mrs. George Cole was given permission to use the Beginner Department for a Kindergarten School for about seven months. In October 1954, they voted to invite the Mexican people of the Boerne community to meet in the Adult Department assembly room. On January 26, 1955, the church voted to sponsor a Sweetheart Banquet for the young people and intermediates for Valentine’s Day. On July 10, 1955, a Special Conference was called to vote to have the complete church plant air conditioned for summer and heated for the winter with the exception of the temporary building north of the auditorium, and the present unit heaters and the old fans sold. On December 14, 1955, the church agreed to sponsor a Boy Scout Troop, and in October, they agreed to “pay the church typist $1.00 per hour and the Sunday School Superintendent and the Training Union Director would assist Pastor Gauntt in selecting a typist.”
Ford F. Gauntt began pastoring the church on March 25, 1953. During his term, the church sponsored R.G. LeTourneau’s coming to Boerne twice. The first time he came on July 22, 1954, speaking at the Fair Grounds; a couple of years later, he spoke at the church. The church voted on March 25, 1952, to pave the East Hosack Street next to the church and began offering activities for the youth in the summer and Christmas programs held regularly.
In January 1961, the Children’s Building was dedicated, completed, and paid for, but without a cornerstone. On September 9, 1962, the cornerstone, presented by Colonel and Mrs. D. T. Hamilton, was set in special ceremonies.
W. George McWilliams served the church from 1960 to 1970. During those years, the church began having cottage prayer meetings and started the Hispanic Mission in 1963. Adult choir, a children’s choir, Young Women’s Auxiliary, WMU, and RAs continued to meet. The church sponsored the showing of the Billy Graham film “Touch of Brass” at the Plaza Theatre on July 8, 1963. Regular monthly family night dinners were held. In October 1963, the choir was reorganized and presented with maroon silk robes by a member, and a “School of Music” was held the last part of February 1964.
With the completion of IH 10 to San Antonio in June 1966, both Boerne and the church began to bloom.
D. Allen Cearley pastored the church from 1971 to 1983. During his early pastorate, many improvements were made to the old church building.
Mid-January 1971, the church began to sponsor a Youth Center and Fellowship Hall, and Junior Choir was organized in June. In February 1972, the church voted to buy a bus and began a local bus ministry. In July 1972, a Children’s Church service, to be held during regular church service, was begun. The church participated in annual Thanksgiving Community Services held at various churches. The By-Laws were being revised, and May 15, 1974, provisional approval was given for a Nursery School to be operated in the Youth Center starting in September for a period of nine months. On March 17, 1976 a contract was secured for the Mexican Mission property on San Antonio Street. February 23, 1977, a motion was made to begin having a fellowship meal every Wednesday night followed by a prayer meeting and all the meetings of the various organizations. Beginning the first Sunday in March 1977, two services were held, one at 8:30AM and the other at 11:00AM, to accommodate the growing crowds.
Because of space and parking problems on South Main, the church embarked on a “Together We Build Campaign” and was able to purchase five acres on March 30, 1977, at the corner of School and Highland Streets, half of which was donated by the Gordon Hollon family.
By 1979, the church had decided on a plan for a new building designed by Bruce Johnson and employed contractor Richard Jenkins as builder, both of San Antonio. Ground was broken in July 1979; the members were able to move into their new building on June 1, 1980, and the building was formally dedicated July 27, 1980.
The beautiful stained-glass windows in the sanctuary, designed by Cecil L. Casebier of the Art Center, Inc., and constructed by Oreo Glass Studio, both of San Antonio, depict the Nativity, The Last Supper, The Resurrection and Ascension, and, above the baptistry, The Holy Spirit. All of these stained-glass windows were donated by members and their families, as were many of the pews, fans, pulpit, and other furnishings. Graduated Children’s choirs grew; Minister of Music/Youth, Larry Snodgrass, would pick up children from their schools in the “old yellow bus” and take them to the new Fellowship Hall for a snack followed by choir. Eventually the buses were sold, and members donated two vans to the church.
Boerne’s growth began to wane, and finances, resources, and energy were in a crunch at First Baptist Church. The Financial Crisis Action Plan was implemented in April, 1982, and Harvey Tipton served as interim pastor from June 22, 1983 until February of 1984, when the Lord sent Mark C. Fowler. With his boundless energy, optimism, and sheer force, Mark revamped the “committees” into “Task Forces,” began many new ministries, began a complete re-organization of the structure, and directed the church into unprecedented growth. They decided to continue broadcasting Sunday morning service in May 1982. The church embarked upon another building program since Sunday School classes (and aerobics) were meeting at St. Albert’s Catholic Church gym and the Texas Country Inn due to lack of space, and it was necessary to have Sunday morning worship services at 8:30AM, 9:45AM, and 11 :00AM. Sunday School was held at 8:30AM and 9:45AM. Mark Fowler began leading noon Bible study at the Dutch Boy Restaurant in February of 1985, as well as morning prayer breakfasts. In July 1985, the first computer (an Apple lie) was purchased for the church office. By November 1985, Wednesday evening dinners, which had begun the previous February, were paying for themselves, allowing the purchase of much-needed equipment for the kitchen.
On October 19, 1986 the church voted to accept the plans of Morris and McDonald Architects of San Antonio for the new Educational Building; the bid was awarded to Clark and Stroman Contractors, Inc. of Boerne. Ground was broken March 1, 1987, complete with balloons and much needed celebration. The dedication of the debt-free building and burning of the note was held shortly thereafter.
March 8, 1987, the church voted to establish a two-day a week Preschool learning program for ages six months through five years with Linda Phillips as the director. The Hispanic Mission moved from the Main Street location to a rented building at 114 Advogt Street in August 1987.
The second floor of the main building was remodeled in May 1987, making more Sunday School rooms which were badly needed. The remodeling upstairs was done by volunteers, and a Prayer Room was established from a memorial gift given by members in honor of their son.
Disciple Now, a weekend filled with activities and Bible study for youth, was a major community event under the direction of John Berryhill, hired as the full-time Minister to Youth. He became the fourth full-time minister, joining Mark R. Boyd, Associate Pastor, and Greg N. Boyd, Minister of Music. Under the direction of Greg N. Boyd, the adult choir grew, leading to community Christmas programs that were held in the Boerne High School auditorium. Among the places the youth made summer mission trips to were the inner city of Houston, an Indian Reservation in Arizona, a tent city in Phoenix, and they worked with World Changers in Louisville, KY.
A four-room portable building was moved in east of the kitchen in 1990 to provide additional Sunday School space.
A lawsuit against First Baptist Church in April of 1992 caused a dark period in the life of the church and had a disrupting effect on many lives. During this time, the leadership of the church formulated a new mission statement (“Reaching Out With Strength From Above”), and FBC held on to the Lord and to the church’s identity and purpose. In May 1992, the Lord brought former cowboy, Charles R. “Bubba” Stahl to the church. Bubba honed his oratory skills preaching to his horse, Whisky, while riding the range on the King Ranch. Bubba preached that everyone is a minister, and he rallied the congregation.
On December 7, 1992, the congregation approved the purchase of 0.6 acres adjacent to the current church property. AWANA was added to the schedule of Wednesday activities on September 20, 1992. Baptisms were held in the Cibolo Creek and Boerne Lake, as well as the baptistry in the sanctuary. The church began sponsoring the Comfort Hispanic Mission, March 1993, with Pedro Gonzalez as Pastor. Mission trips were taken to our sister church in Fairplay, Colorado, doing construction work, VBS, Backyard Bible Club, and evangelism work. In April, a Prayer Path was laid out on the new land.
On May 15, 1994, members voted on a Master Plan that provided for a new sanctuary, addition to the fellowship hall, addition to the Children’s Building, and a new activities center.
Early January 1994, the front foyer was enclosed, a new entrance constructed, and “The Pound” was completed at the Boerne Square Shopping Center to be used as a youth center. Growth necessitated the return of three worship services and two Sunday Schools. In September 1994, two more buildings to use for Sunday School space were built south of the main building.
After years of work and revision, the Structure Document was adopted July 2, 1995, rescinding all previous by-laws and incorporating the church as a non-profit corporation. Hand bells were purchased and a hand bell choir was formed May 1996 under the direction of Minister of Music and Prayer, Mike Meadows, who joined the staff in January of 1994.
Since attendance continued to climb during the construction stage of Phase I, three worship services and two Sunday Schools were not adequate. The leadership took a bold step in September 1996. Plans were made to build a Tabernacle (now referred to as The HUB), a metal building in which the church could worship, and the Youth could use during the week. This enabled a schedule with two worship services with one Sunday School from April 13, 1997 through April 26, 1998 while the new sanctuary was being built.
Since there was no baptistry in the tabernacle, baptisms were held in a horse trough on the foundation of the new sanctuary on the day of the foundation blessing, July 20, 1997.
The first service in the new worship center was held May 3, 1998. The stained glass in the east window depicts the seven “I Ams” in the Gospel of John of the New Testament. The stained glass in the west window depicts the seven “I Ams” of the Old Testament, and the smaller north and south windows depict the life of Christ.
In August 1998, FBC Boerne celebrated its 100th anniversary with the theme “A Century of Faith…a Future of Faithfulness.”
Sunday, January 12, 2001, over 130 people were sent out with a great blessing to begin Currey Creek Baptist Church. It was a deeply moving sight. Currey Creek began meeting in Boerne Middle School South.
2005 was an eventful year in the life of our church. Mike Harkrider was called to be the pastor. Phase II of the Master Plan, the Family Life Building, which included many news classrooms, commercial kitchen, and a fellowship hall, was completed September 2005.
In 2006, Nineteen:Ten, another local church, was birthed out of FBC Boerne. Nineteen:Ten began meeting in Boerne Middle School North.
In October 2011, a new church-wide campaign began called “Next Generations.” Under Pastor Harkrider’s leadership, the church approved the “Next Generations” plan to expand the Preschool/Children’s Buildings, add on to the existing HUB building, and pay off the church debt. Through God’s faithfulness and the generous hearts of church members, without accumulating any debt, the expansion of the children’s building began in 2012.
FBC celebrated the completion of Phase II of the Next Generations Project with the grand opening of “The Gallery” – a new student building – in August of 2016.
Mike Harkrider was called to Wylie Baptist Church in Abilene, Texas in February 2018, and FBC Boerne is currently under interim leadership.
In April 2018, FBC Boerne celebrated the independence and constitution of Iglesia Bautista Emmanuel, a Spanish-speaking church-plant.
FBC Boerne is truly a mission-minded church. Our vision is to see the body of FBC Boerne “Seeking Christ, Serving People, and Sending Disicples.” Over the years, many ministries have started and expanded to touch the lives of people in our church, community, and the whole world. We desire to provide every opportunity for our members to live out the mission of “Seeking, Serving, and Sending” within the ministries of our church and beyond our walls to the world around us.
The work of FBC Boerne, however, could not be done without the help of the Church Council, Ministry Council, and the many other ministry leaders, councils, Deacons, Growth Group leaders, and a host of volunteers of all ages.