After receiving inquiries from the community, The Texas Christian Missionary Society sent evangelist Albert Fitts to organize church services. In 1919, Reverend Fitts held the first revival in a tent on the corner of Texas Avenue and Commerce Street. Subsequently, services and Sunday School were held in the Old Oiler Theater, the YMCA and the Odd Fellows Hall. During this period, Texas governor, Ross Sterling, a member of the Christian Church, heard of the Goose Creek group’s struggles. He sent a personal friend, Mr. A. E. Kerr, to research an appropriate location to establish a permanent structure. Governor Sterling donated a cash gift of $1,000 and four lots on the corner of Texas and Whiting across from the famous old oak tree. In 1921, the congregation dedicated its first permanent structure, a small gray-white building with a Spanish bell tower.
From the early years to the present, the pastors of the church were the Reverends Daley, McSweeney, McClendon, Stevenson, Burney, Hardegree, Lemon, Starr, Dalrymple, Goodpastor, Pierce, Stinson, Foltz, Bissex, Pendelton, Nesbit, Schomp, Weinman, Banda, Dees, Lowe and Jackson.
In 1933, the ladies of the church organized themselves to pay off the past due debt on the church. They accomplished their goal by selling meals to community members. This banding together in a time of need established the roots and tradition which grew into the Christian Women’s Fellowship. The church grew to the point where new Sunday School space was needed. Under the direction of Uncle Bud Smith, who for years was Chairman of the Board, the congregation constructed a large white frame classroom and fellowship annex at a cost of $1,000.
The church continued its growth and in 1938, Humble Oil & Refinery bought the original property for $10,000 and the Sunday School annex building was sold for $800. This enabled the congregation to build a new church free of debt on a one acre tract in the Leavins addition. The church was dedicated in 1939 with a seating capacity of 200. The original stained-glass memorial from Mrs. Smith’s miniature Christian Church in Cedar Bayou was also installed. In 1949, a 4800 square-foot, two-story brick education center was constructed by the congregation with a loan from Texas Christian University for $25,000.
Tragedy struck the day after Easter, March 26, 1951, when the church burned to the ground. All that was salvaged was the water-soaked organ, which was later restored, some folding chairs and communion cups and trays.
Out of the fire and ashes grew the structure we have today. Edward Bodet, a Houston architect, designed the structure and Brown Construction did the construction work. The architectural plans called for a 300 person sanctuary plus a 35 voice choir seating capacity. The building funds came from a $20,176.18 fire insurance check, a loan of $96,000 from TCU and congregational donations. The original plans called for a fellowship hall which was built in 1956.
In 1997, the education building was torn down and replaced by a modern one-story facility which was dedicated in March of 1998. Funds from the sale of Bayway Christian Church were used to pay for the building which cost almost $300,000 including demolition, asbestos abatement, fees and construction.
In 2001, the Schulmerich Carillon was installed in the church steeple. This was made possible by a generous gift from Gordon & Viola Lannou.
The First Christian Church of Baytown has a proud history of ministry and service to the community. This heritage was accomplished by the dedication and hard work of the members from past to present.