First Baptist Church was organized and “its Rules of decorum and Articles of Faith” along
with its Covenant were signed in the home of Labon Rice, on May 4, 1843. The “regularly ordained
Ministers of the Gospel in the Baptist Church,” who were present for the organization into a church
were R. E. B. Baylor, a noted lawyer and judge, who preached the sermon that day, and Noah T.
Byers, a blacksmith and gunsmith in the town of Independence, became the first pastor that first
year (although more in an advisory capacity rather than as a preacher). Byers was later appointed
the first missionary of the Texas Baptist Convention in 1848 and is credited with founding more than
60 churches and four Baptist Associations on the Texas frontier. R. E. B. Baylor named the church
Dove Baptist Church because “it reminded him of a dove mourning in the wilderness for lost souls.”
The first building was built in 1844 and stood on Davidson Creek where early baptisms were
held. The Baptists were called the “watery tribe” in those early days. In 1854, the church voted to
build “a new house of worship on a lot donated by L. L. Chiles, situated on a prairie Southeast from
Bro. Wm. Albright’s residence in the town of Caldwell.” The State Convention of Texas Baptists was
to have been held in Dove Baptist Church in 1857, but because of severe drought, the convention
was moved to another location. There have been five sanctuaries for the Church (two have burned).
The present building was built in 1928-29. In 1960 the education wing was added. Since that time,
the Family Life Center has been added along with the Youth Annex and the First Baptist School.
The Church has many organizations, activities, and ministries: Vacation Bible School, Youth,
Choir, MOPs, Keenagers, camps, mission trips, and many more, but probably none more important
than its Sunday School which has equipped and trained its members in the Word of God since the
very earliest days of existence. This year, 2018, on the first Sunday in May, First Baptist Church will
celebrate its 175 birthday and look forward to many more years of service for our Lord!
Linda Chamberlain 2018