WHERE HAVE WE COME FROM?
The First Baptist Church of Urbana began as a result of circuit riding preachers teaching God’s word in 1869. The church building was in place until fire destroyed it, and a large portion of Urbana, in 1917. Church members held services in people’s homes,the Lodge Hall, and the Christian Church. Reverend J. B. Smith had a vision to organize and build a church building. There were several generous donations, which purchased an 80 x 100’ lot at 112 West Broadway. This is the lot and building directly across the street from our new church building. On January 5, 1937, the First Baptist Church of Urbana was organized with a membership of 26 that more than doubled to 58 by the end of 1940, when the newly built 30 x 40’ building was dedicated. The total cost for the basement, sanctuary, and furnace heat was approximately $3,000.
In 1942, half time services went to full time under Pastor Jess Harmon. The parsonage was built in 1949 when Reverend John Zimmer was Pastor. The church building saw many changes throughout the years, including the additions of Sunday School rooms, a baptistery, handicapped ramp, bricking the walls on the outside and a steeple.
The church received a donation of two acres of land across the street from the church at 207 West Broadway. With the vision of building a church complex, the congregation voted to build a youth activities building/fellowship hall, 60’ x 90’. The church began holding services in this new building in November, 2007. Realizing part of the vision, the church voted in 2008 to build the new church building perpendicular to the fellowship hall on the donated 2 acres. The former church building was sold.
Groundbreaking for the new church building was April 4, 2009. Excavation began April 6th for the foundation of that new building. The new church building is 60 x 80’. The church building itself is 26’ tall with a steeple that is 27’ tall, including a 3’ tall cross at the top. The ground floor consists of the sanctuary, baptistery,a sound media room, Pastor’s office, secretarial office, classroom,and two bathrooms. The basement area, which remains unfinished to date, will consist of additional classrooms, a storm shelter, additional bathrooms, and the mechanical room.
This is a building complex that is functional, beautiful,a testimony to the works of this church, and an asset to the community and City of Urbana, thanks to the dedication of the members of this church and all the volunteers who helped in anyway to open this building in just 7 months!
In 2016 we added three Sunday School rooms as well as a canopy. We also put in concrete sidewalks on the East and South side of the buildings.
To quote the Dallas County Republican as was written June 4,1959 regarding the former church building, the sentiment remains “The Urbana Baptist Church is in a city that is set on a hill. It cannot be hidden. The lights shine forth as a beacon light to lost wanderers that need to be guided to safety in “God’s Great Love.”