History of EMBC

History of Eagle Mountain Baptist Church


          In 1950 James Reed, layman of Ash Creek Baptist Church and Rev. Tom Baird, pastor of Ash Creek Baptist Church, saw the need for a church in the Eagle Mountain area. After much prayer, and a lot of hard work, Ash Creek Baptist Church agreed to establish and sponsor a mission in the Eagle Mountain community. A vacant residence on Ten Mile Bridge Road, near Trinity River, was secured for the mission. On Wednesday night, September 9, 1950, the first service was held in the new mission.  The first business meeting was held a month later on October 11. At that meeting, the mission called its first pastor, Sydney Odom, and chose the name Eagle Mountain Baptist Mission. It was only necessary for Ash Creek Baptist Church to help financially for one month. Those that came to work in the mission remained for some months longer.

          On Sunday, July 15, 1951, an organization meeting was held to organize the mission into a church. Among those present were Rev. Tom Baird, Rev. Wood Fuller, and representatives of La Junta Baptist Church. The church adopted the New Hampshire Articles of Faith as its confession, its Church Covenant, and the name Eagle Mountain Baptist Church. Bro. Sydney Odom was called as the pastor of the new fellowship. The church began with a charter membership of 28, and a budget of $28,000. In October 1951, the church was accepted into Tarrant Baptist Association.

          Services continued to be held in the mission building, but soon the house was too small for the growing church. A definite need for a permanent place of worship arose. The church found property at the corner of Ten Mile Bridge Road and Eagle Mountain Circle that they felt would be a choice location for a permanent place of worship. The land was owned by a Mr. Farmer of Anchorage, Alaska. After many difficult and discouraging days working to purchase the land, the church finally succeeded in purchasing two acres on which to build.

          After more than a year of work, challenges, and obstacles, EMBC held groundbreaking services for its new building on July 20, 1952. On August 24, 1952, the church moved into the unfinished 30' x 80' building. The first services in the new building were also the church's first revival. In 1955, pews were purchased through donations from members.

          Bro. Sydney Odom served as pastor until December 1954. In February 1955, C.L. Chesser accepted the call to be pastor, and served through September of that year. In October, J.W. Harding came as pastor, serving until July of 1957. After Harding's departure, Glenn Hickey served as interim pastor until October of 1959.

          In December of 1959, Roland Earl accepted the call to be the fifth pastor of Eagle Mountain Baptist Church. His arrival began a new era of ministry in the church and community.

          In the 1960s, the growth of EMBC brought with it the need for additional space. In 1961, the church added education space and remodeled part of the existing facilities. The first well was dug, and with it came restroom facilities and the church's first baptistery. A steeple and central heat and air conditioning were also added as part of the remodeling project. In May 1964, the church completed a 30' x 50' facility, housing a kitchen and fellowship hall.

          In 1969, two church members, Jewel Dodson and Mary McMullen, purchased the acre of land to the west, and gave it to the church. This brought the total church property to three acres. The land was converted into a baseball field with picnic tables in far center field, perfect for many community and church events in the years to come. Also in 1969, the church completed a 30' x 80' children's education building. At the end of the decade, the property value totaled $250,000.

          During the 1970s, the Memorial Fund and Care & Share Committee (later changed to Direct Missions & Benevolence Team) became an active ministry of EMBC. In 1974, the auditorium received new windows, paint, paneling, and wall-to-wall carpeting. Before the 25th anniversary in 1976, the education building, kitchen, and restrooms received new flooring and carpeting, and office space was enlarged. Money for the projects came from the Memorial Fund. In April 1976, church members purchased a brand new Dodge for Bro. and Mrs. Earl, all with funds outside the church treasury.

          EMBC held 25th Anniversary festivities on July 17, 1976. Three of the church's five pastors were in attendance: Sydney Odom, along with his wife, Cloma, and daughter, Phebe; Charles Chesser and his wife Hazel; and Roland Earl and his wife, Ruth. The program included a picnic on Saturday evening, and a very enjoyable Sunday morning celebration. Seventeen charter members attended the 25th anniversary celebration; only three original members were deceased.

        In 1980, Arthur and Pearl Reynolds transferred the deed to their home to Eagle Mountain Baptist Church through their will. For the next 35 years, the house, located on Eagle Mountain Drive, would be home to many of the church's part-time ministerial staff members. The church transferred the deed to the house in 2015. 

          The decade of the eighties saw the influence of Eagle Mountain Baptist Church expand in the community, and even around the world. A new Dodge van was purchased in 1981 that provided transportation for Bro. Earl, another pastor, and thirteen interpreters on a Tarrant Baptist Association mission trip to Torreon, Mexico two years later. In 1981, Bro. and Mrs. Earl, through funds from EMBC and Tarrant Baptist WMU, participated in a mission project in Teresina, Brazil.

          Members from EMBC led in Vacation Bible School at Central Baptist Mission in Fort Worth during the summers of 1984 and 1985. In 1985, the church also conducted a mission VBS at First Baptist Church, Azle. This time period also brought partnerships with Azle Manor, Volunteers-of-America Halfway House, a Laotian mission of Springdale Baptist Church, Stanford's Convalescent Center, Buckner Children's Home, and the Gideons. In 1987, Pearl Ash headed up a new project with Meals on Wheels. In 1988, area Baptist churches worked together to establish a mission work that eventually became Silver Creek Baptist Church.

          In 1985, the need for additional space rose again. The church elected a building committee to examine the needs and make a recommendation. The decision to build the existing Worship Center received approval. Tracy Dignum served as architect, and Bill Youngblood as General Contractor. Groundbreaking ceremonies were held the first weekend of February 1986. EMBC dedicated the new facility in conjunction with 35th Anniversary on July 13, 1986. Dr. Cecil Sherman, pastor of Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Glenn Hickey, former pastor of EMBC, and Clarence Winterrowd led in the dedication service. The church completed a new kitchen in the newly remodeled Fellowship Hall (formerly the sanctuary) in 1988.

          In January 1991, Bro. Roland Earl passed away, concluding thirty-one years of loving ministry to EMBC and the surrounding community. In honor of Bro. Earl, the Azle Ministerial Alliance established the Roland Earl Memorial Scholarship, which is presented to a graduating Azle High School student each year.

          In April 1991, Gerry Lewis, a former Minister of Music and Youth at EMBC, was called as the church's sixth pastor. Later that year, the church published its first pictorial directory, approved new bylaws, and approved the first printed budget in its history. Plans for a new playground outside the children's building were made by Tracy Dignum, and the church held an auction to raise money for its construction.

          Two new fellowship ministries found their place at EMBC in the early nineties. In 1992, the Brotherhood began a monthly prayer and fellowship breakfast on the last Sunday of each month. In 1994, Wednesday evening family fellowship suppers began. After a few months of a volunteer rotation, Jan Beaman became the cook and hostess each week, with Sunday School classes taking turns in service and clean-up duty. This new ministry brought new growth to Wednesday evening activities.

          The church staff grew during this decade as well. In addition to the part-time associate pastor, a half-time ministry assistant was hired in 1995. Also that year, the first volunteer was appointed to a ministry staff position, when Reno McCrory became worship leader. Pastor Gerry Lewis earned his Doctor of Ministry degree from Golden Gate Theological Seminary in 1996.

          The late nineties closed one era and ushered in a new one. In 1998, EMBC entered cyberspace, publishing its first website (www.eaglemountain.org). Gerry began writing an email devotional as well. In 1999, on the 48th anniversary of the church, the church held a note-burning for the Worship Center loan as well. 1999 ended with a worship service, led by Mark Mitchum, ushering in the new millennium in praise of Jesus Christ.

          The new century brought with it preparations for the 50th anniversary of Eagle Mountain Baptist Church. The Fellowship Hall received new carpet and tables. A new lighted sign was purchased and installed in front of the church. This sign helped to publicize new events like the Father/Son Hoedown, Mother/Daughter Banquet, and Community Fair and Fish Fry. Early in 2001 the church purchased a fourteen passenger bus, and constructed a 30' x 40' garage and storage facility on the northwest corner of the property. Renovations took place in the staff home as well.

          In 2001, the 50th Anniversary celebration was held the weekend of July 14-15, with guest speakers Sydney Odom, founding pastor, and Charles Wade, Executive Director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. This celebration ushered in a new emphasis in missions through EMBC.

          EMBC joined in a project with Vision Ministries in 2001, building church facilities in Mexico. Adam Hailes, a child of missionaries to Argentina, joined the church staff as Assoc. Pastor for Student Minstries that year, and served as interpreter for several mission trips to Mexico with Vision in the following years. Groups ranged in size from two to twenty, and teams ministered in San Luis Potosi, Torreon, and Saltillo, usually in construction, revivals, and VBS. In 2007, EMBC partnered with Nehemiah's Vision in Vidor, Texas to assist in rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Rita. Teams from EMBC also helped in recovery efforts in Bridge City after Hurricane Ike in 2008. Greg Duke, then the Assoc. Pastor for Worship Ministries, led a project to assist a struggling Southern Baptist church in Franklin, Massachusetts in the summer of 2008. In all, EMBC took part in five major mission projects in 2008.

          In May of 2008, Dr. Gerry Lewis stepped down as Senior Pastor in order to become Director of Missions for Harvest Baptist Association. Another era of ministry concluded, and EMBC recognized just how fortunate the church was to have such devoted leadership since its inception.

          The church staff led well through the period leading to the call of Paul Atkinson as Intentional Interim Pastor in October 2008. With his guidance and encouragement, the church celebrated its past accomplishments and took stock of its heritage and mission, while also asking the hard question of "Where do we go from here?"  It was from this framework that EMBC called David Cecil as the church's eighth pastor in November of 2009.

          Today, Eagle Mountain Baptist Church looks back and sees the faithful legacy of service to Jesus Christ that has been handed down by those who have gone on before us. Moreover, we see God's faithfulness in providing and sustaining us through the years. As we turn and look forward, we greet the opportunities and challenges ahead, confident in God's sustaining grace.

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