From a humble beginning when services were held beneath a grape arbor in 1889, First Baptist Church of Grapeland has served the Lord and the community without a break. On August 14, 1891, ministers representing the Neches River and the Cherokee Associations granted the Baptist Church of Grapeland recognition. The name has changed slightly through the years, but is now officially First Baptist Church, Grapeland, Texas.
Initially, services were held in the public school building until 1908, when funds were raised to purchase three lots where the present church stands. The original church building was constructed over several years as money became available. On November 7, 1909, the first service was held in the partially completed building with members seated on used, hand-made pews. Carbide lights and opera seats were added in 1918, the baptistery annex was added in 1928 and after the belfry towers were added, church bells called worshipers to Sunday morning services. The original frame building was completely destroyed by fire on June 19, 1948.
To enable the congregation to borrow funds for a new building, the church was chartered as a non-profit corporation by the State of Texas on January 20, 1949, with the name First Baptist Church of Grapeland, Texas. A new brick building, consisting of the sanctuary, fellowship hall, a two-story east wing for church offices and classrooms, was completed on the original site. The first service was held on December 18, 1949. A dedication and note burning was held on May 29, 1960, to celebrate the fact that the church was finally debt-free.
The remainder of Grapeland City Block 10 was purchased in April 1977 to provide space for expansion. In 1980, a two-story wing for classrooms and a gravel parking lot were completed. In 1985, a building housing Sunday School classrooms for nursery and preschool was added on the north side of the main structure.
On August 11, 1991, with the theme of “Proud Past-Promising Future”, over 450 members and former members gathered to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the church. And on February 16, 1992, the church received recognition from the Texas Historical Commission when an official Texas Historical Marker was placed in front of the church commemorating 100 years of religious leadership in the community.
After many prayers seeking God’s will and direction, in February 2003, a campaign to raise funds for a much needed Family Life Center, and renovation of the sanctuary and east and west wings was begun. Construction began with a groundbreaking ceremony on October 26, 2003. To make room for the new structure, the nursery and preschool building was removed. After two campaigns, the “Growing with God” campaign in 2003 and the “Fulfilling God’s Vision” which concluded in 2011, under God’s guidance, church members and bequeaths have raised in excess of $2,000,000 for the construction process.
The Family Life Center stands as a testimony to God’s provision and faithfulness. Much like the original church building, construction took place over several years as funds were available. Renovation of the auditorium followed construction of the FLC. Aside from the raising of funds, many of the membership donated countless hours of labor in the construction and renovation process.
Relying on God’s provision, the Church continues to serve the Grapeland community as it has in the past with strong Biblical preaching, Sunday School for all ages, the AWANA program for elementary ages, youth and Senior Adult programs and a music ministry. Visitors and new members are always welcome