First Baptist Church has been caring and ministering in the name of Jesus Christ to persons in San Angelo, the Concho Valley, and around the world for more than 130 years. One of the first major gatherings of the church took place on July 22, 1884 under a large mesquite tree on the northwest corner of a lot located on Chadbourne Street between Beauregard Avenue and Harris Street. This was the site of the church’s first location, and a makeshift tent-like structure served as the first “building.” The church grew so much by 1885 that a 30 x 60 brick building was erected. The young church survived and grew despite a major drought in 1886, a tornado in 1887, and the abandoning of Fort Concho in 1889. The church’s current location at the corner of Harris and Oaks was purchased for $872.00 in 1900, and a new church building was completed by 1908 in spite of a financial crisis a year prior. By 1928, the church had grown to nearly 1000 people–538 of whom joined the church in one year.
Much of this growth, as well as the current church membership growth, can be attributed to a strong Sunday School ministry and care for people from the cradle to the grave. In 1908, FBC started the Baptist Young People’s Union, a precursor to today’s contemporary ministries to children and especially youth. The CDC, or Child Development Center, is one of the most recognized licensed day care centers in the city. The CDC started in 1969 and provides a secure Christian environment where a child can develop physically, socially, mentally, emotionally and spiritually from six weeks of age to four years old.
National and International Missions has always existed in the DNA of the church. FBC has started over ten churches intentionally in San Angelo alone since 1908. The church was also on the ground floor of Texas Baptists’ river ministry along the state-side of the Rio Grande. On an international scope, First Baptist forged missions and ministry partnerships with people in Mexico and Brazil that exist even today. Our work in Brazil began in 1936 when Rev. Clem and Ethel Hardy went there as missionaries. FBC supported the Hardys through their own resources, some of which even came from a missions fund that was established in 1926! First Baptist began direct work in Brazil in 1981 with the establishment of sixteen new churches and water well drilling. Since the 1980s, First Baptist has established new missions connections in Peru, Venezuela, and Ukraine. Church members Larry and Joy Johnson as well as Carlos and Doris Valenzuela have established effective ministries in Villa Milagro, Peru primarily by providing clean water to people. The church also participates in a significant cooperative work with Baptists in Venezuela.