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The roots and history of Marcelina Baptist begin in 1800s

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Historic Moments
July 23, 2014 | 1,971 views | Post a comment

In the middle 1800s, a band of courageous people moved West from several different states. Weary from long hours of travel, they came into the fertile green valley of Marcelina. Homes had to be built, fields cleared, but this little group did not forget to take time to worship God. Logs were split and seats were made from them and placed under shade trees and here began what is known as the Marcelina Baptist Church. This was along about the year of 1860 and the church was really organized in 1874. In 1883 Mr. Isaac Sims donated land for the first building to be erected to house the congregation. Material for the building was hauled from Marion, Texas, by wagons drawn by oxen. The first pastor was Bro. Worthington.

In early days they baptized in the Mustang Pond near the church on the Hare farm. Later they baptized in the Cibolo Creek at Hankinson Crossing. Not many months ago, 10 people were baptized in the same spot. The old church has seen hundreds follow their Lord in baptism and go out to win others to the Lord.

In 1901 the old church was torn down and a larger church was built, more or less in the same location of the present building. Bro. Eugene Donaho served as pastor from about1908 until 1911.

Here is a quote from the book, Century Around The Alamo. “Marcelina This church has the largest membership of any country church in the San Antonio Association, 58 have been baptized in the last 3 years.”

Through courage, faith, and hard work of these great Christian pioneers and those who have followed through the years, Marcelina Baptist has been a beacon light not only to this community, but to many, many that have passed our way. The Devil has placed many obstacles in the path but the great faith of our forefathers and those that loved the old church have continued God’s work in this sacred spot and God has blessed the church through the years and we believe will allow this church to stand as a guiding light in this community.

The longest pioneer members of this church were the late Mrs. J.G. Sims and Mrs. Martha Newman. Their devotion to this church has been an inspiration to many. The late Mr. and Mrs. M.S. Teague devoted many years of time and effort toward the ongoing of God’s work at this place that they so dearly loved. The recent passing of Mrs. Elpie Luker took another faithful Christian from our midst that had worked in the church as teacher, song leader, and pianist. Her memory will linger long. Still another who loved the church and comes as often as health will permit is Mrs. Frank Burton. Mr. R.C. Donaho is another who never forgets the place where he found the Lord. Mrs. Sallie Mills is still a faithful member. Her children were brought up in this church and three of her sons surrendered to preach the gospel.

Down through the years there have been three buildings on or near the present location. The present sanctuary was completed in 1935. The parsonage being completed under the leadership of the late Rev. W.A. Rogers whose untiring efforts and dauntless courage inspired his members to build this much needed building. It was also under his leadership that the first annual homecoming was instituted.

Some of the later work of the church has been memorial gifts that have been placed here in memory of loved ones. Mrs. Howard Pooley placed new songbooks in memory of her husband, Mr. Howard Pooley. The communion table was placed here by Mr. Ross Donaho in memory of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Dank Donaho. The pulpit chairs were placed in memory of Mr. J.G. Sims by her children and her friends. The two front doors were placed in loving memory of Mrs. Elpie Luker, by her friends at the church.

There have been many outstanding men of God who have held pastorates in the church: Bro. Worthington, Washburn, Cunningham Israel, Wick Blanton, J.D. Stringer, Black, Stoddard, Jones, Griffith, Sullivan Riddle, Henderson, Ingram, Langrum, White, Appling, Anderson, Eugene Donaho, Holland, Spearman, Marshal Smith, Bryan Teague, Dick Rice, J.F. Hoffman, J. Frank Cox, Frank T. Cox, G.O. Summers, T.W. Smith, C.E. Botterhoff, Sidney Johnson, L.L. Belton, Joe Jetton, H.C. Reddoch, W.A. Rogers, Isaac Caperton, Frank Ornburn, Larry Hickman, George Leavitt, Lee Smith, J.C. Petty, Gibson Nesbitt, and our present pastor, Rev. Dempsey Simmons. Much credit goes to him for our growth, both in numbers and greater still, in a spiritual way.

Marcelina Baptist Church has been a place of inspiration throughout her history. Many leaders of our Baptist work in Texas are products of this church. At least 15 young men have felt the call of God in their lives to full time Gospel ministry and have gone out from here to win many souls to Christ.

The annual homecoming was inaugurated in 1950 and has become one of the outstanding events of the church and eagerly awaited by all who have loved and cherished its memories and feel they are truly coming home where they first came to know the Lord.

This article, found in the Wilson County Historical Archives, was published in the Floresville Chronicle-Journal May 19, 1966. The author is not known. It was submitted to the Wilson County Historical Society by Maurine Liles. The Wilson County Historical Society meets on third Tuesdays at 7 p.m. in the American Legion Hall in Floresville, 1412 Fourth St. Dues are $20 for individuals, or $30 for couples. Call LaJuana Newnam-Leus at 830-393-2166 or visit

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