Church celebrates past, looks forward to the future
Winfree Baptist Church will celebrate being in existence for a century on Saturday, August 29 at the church at 19525 Highway 62 with a homecoming celebration. There will be a dinner on the grounds following the Sunday morning service.
David Ball – For The Record
Margaret Ivy, longtime member of Winfree Baptist Church said their congregation has had a great first 100 years and she expects another great century for the church if the Lord tarries.
The church will celebrate it’s 100th birthday on Saturday August 29.
“We love him. He’s been a blessing and God has really used him,” she said.
Pastor Keith Royal’s 20th year anniversary with the church was in july. He said the church began because the Winfree Community needed a place to worship.
“You kids who grew up and are young adults now. We’ve built a new sanctuary. We’ve always been mission-minded and try new things like the pumpkin patch (in the fall) and good things like that to do in the community,” he said.
Proceeds from the pumpkin patch that started in 2006 raise funds for mission work.
There will be a program from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on August 29 which will be similar to a homecoming inside the sanctuary. Snacks will be served. Several invitations have sent out to reminisce about the history of the church and to honor members and former members. There will also be an unveiling of a historical marker.
Following Sunday morning worship, there will be a dinner on the grounds. Royal is expecting 300 to attend.
“It will be a celebration and a reception,” he said.
The church’s history is as follows:
The Winfree Community originated in 1831 as a ranch of the early Texas settler Abraham Winfree. By 1914, the area had grown in population and the scattered rural churches were not adequate for the farming families of the area. After purchasing the deed to part of the land, community leaders established Burton Baptist Church in August 1915, according to their historical marker from the Texas State Historical Commission.
It was named for Rev. F.A. Burton who was its first pastor. the church began with 23 members. Rev. Marion Stephenson served as pastor a year later. By 1920 the congregation grew to 86 members and also gained two deacons.
In 1923 a larger church building was contructed nearby to replace the old one, and it was renamed Winfree Baptist Church.
The community grew and by 1936 a women’s missionary society was established by the church. By 1940 a parsonage was built, then rebuilt as a modernized brick building ten years later.
By 1959, the congregation decided that a new church on new land needed to be built to accommodate the continued growth. A deed of 5.9 acres was bought by the church from Ivy Winfree Kimball.
The new site, located just one mile south of the old site, was on land that the original Abraham Winfree once owned in 1831.
In the following years, the church saw the construction of an educational building, which was then rebuilt after a fire in 1980. The church built a new auditorium and other facilities over the years. Since 1915, the church has had 25 pastors and 23 deacons. The congregation has exceeded 1,000 members, and has funded the foundation of other churches and missionary work beyond Orange County, as far as Mexico and Southeast Asia.
The church bought the property next door in 1996 when it became available.
“We try to be obedient to His Commission,” Royal said. “It’s about whatever we can do to follow the Great Commission. We’ve stepped out on faith and sold bonds to buy the property next door from A.B. Culbertson,” he said.
“People are committed to actually being the church, not being a community social organization and fulfilling its purpose.”