Overview of Red Oak Missionary Baptist Church History
1875 - 2017
The Red Oak Baptist Church was founded in the eighteen seventies by a small band of Christians as a symbol of God’s saving grace, his mighty power and everlasting love. The name was originally Red Oak Grove Baptist Church. No written records of the first church were preserved, but we know from oral histories that land for the original building was donated by Sallie Rollins, and was located southeast of Eastman Road, formerly the Sowell’s homestead, near the Harrison Gregg home-site.
The church survived and grew under the leadership of eighteen pastors. Reverend Rube Wright served as the first pastor, and under his administration the church thrived and rapidly grew. Reverend Bartlett served faithfully as the second pastor. Reverend H. Y. Jones, the third pastor, baptized a large number of new members. Reverend M. J. Walker not only served as the fourth pastor, he also taught in the public schools of the community. Butler College in Tyler, Texas was named for the fifth pastor, Reverend C. M. Butler. Reverend H. C. Alexander, the sixth pastor, was for many years, Moderator of the Kilgore District Board, an auxiliary of the East Texas Baptist Church Association. Reverend W. M. Hardeman, Reverend Leonard Harris and Reverend J. H. Harris were the seventh, eighth, and ninth pastors of this great church.
During the administration of the eleventh pastor, Reverend J. J. Finley, the church was destroyed by fire on March 7, 1929. Either Rollins School or the Hall of the Knights and Daughters of Tabor was used as a place to worship until the church could be rebuilt. After the brief pastorage of Reverend F. A. Scott, Reverend Jones, the son of Reverend H. Y. Jones, kept the members together until a new minister could be elected. Reverend Jones walked from Pleasant Green to Red Oak to conduct worship services.
In 1932, Reverend L. R. Taylor was elected and served for nine years as pastor. The site where the church now stands was purchased from the estate of the late Anna Rollins Jacobs and C. B. Jacobs. The church was destroyed by a storm shortly after its completion. The walls of the old Knights and Daughters of Tabor building were given to help in the rebuilding program. In 1941, Reverend L. R. Taylor was called to serve elsewhere, which left the Red Oak Family without a minister.
In 1944, Reverend J. E. Johnson began his ministry at Red Oak. At that time, the building was a wooden structure propped up on one side. Prior to his ministry, worship service was held only one Sunday each month—the Fourth Sunday. He began a two Sunday service with the second Sunday devoted to the youth. He was assisted by Reverend B. W. Lockett. Under his leadership the church was bricked, the baptismal pool was moved inside, several new classrooms were added; and a Mission Chorus and Junior Choir were organized. Several young men joined the Deacon Board, and full time service began in May, 1954. Reverend Johnson served as pastor for twenty-two years and two months, until his death in 1966.
In 1967, Reverend B. B. Brown was elected to serve as pastor and improvements continued with an educational wing, dining facility and ladies lounge being added. A Hammond Organ, Grand Piano, and public address system were purchased to enhance the worship services along with continued growth of the membership.
On December 30, 1984, we experienced our first worship service in the new building with Perry Clay as our special guests. Dedication and a Period of Thanksgiving was held May 5, 1985. After twenty years of leadership, Reverend Brown retired on March 29, 1987.
Reverend H. C. Rockmore, Sr. was selected by a unanimous decision and was called on September 20, 1987. Under his leadership improvements continued to be attained and God continues to add to the church.
In 1996, 3.296 acres of land surrounding the church were purchased form the Gus Mills Family to enhance the parking lot and future expansions. One hundred and sixty-three (163) spaces were added. In 2001, groundbreaking was held to add a 6,500 sq. ft. Educational Complex to the existing building: (10 classrooms, restrooms and water fountains); and a 13,000 sq. ft. Family Life Center with a basketball court, showers, weight room, office and Kitchenette. Dedicatory and an Entrance Service/Ribbon Cutting was held for the new additions in 2002.
Children’s church was initiated to meet the needs of ages up to 8 years, established the first Educational Scholarship for high school graduates, tots choir and girls and boys basketball teams were formed. Twenty-one (21) candidates were baptized in May, 2010, ranging in ages from nine (9) to sixteen (16) years old. The youth buried a Time Capsule on the 130th Church Anniversary to be retrieved on the 150th Anniversary. The capsule is filled with messages and treasured mementos.
On September 12, 2015, Red Oak was honored as an important and educational part of local history with the dedication of an Official Texas Historical Marker.