First Church in Texas Organized by The American Baptist Free Mission Society of Boston
Founded in 1870, the First Union Free Mission Baptist Church was organized by a delegation representing the American Baptist Free Mission Society of Boston, an interracial antislavery group. First Union was the first church organized by the society in Texas. The Reverend Benjamin J. Hall, who served as pastor from 1878 to 1914, earned praise for his efforts to rebuild the sanctuary after the 1900 Storm and for enhancing the church’s role as mother church of the Texas State Convention. The present structure was erected in 1955.
One of over 200 historical markers on the island, this marker is located at one of the oldest black congregations in Texas. The marker is located at the First Union Baptist Church established by an interracial antislavery group. The marker was erected in 1993 by the Texas Historical Commission.
“This church was founded in 1870 as the First Union Free Mission Baptist Church by a delegation representing the American Baptist Free Mission Society of Boston, an interracial antislavery group. First Union was the first church organized by the society in Texas. Its founding resulted from and continued a period of intense rivalry over the recruitment of former slaves in Texas between the newly arrived Northern Free Mission Society and the established Southern based Missionary Baptists.”
“First Union promptly began an ambitious missionary effort that resulted in the establishment of the Texas Free Mission (Eastern District) Baptist Association in 1871, a Western District Association in 1873, and numerous Free Mission churches throughout the region. The Eastern and Western Districts united to form the American Baptist Convention of Texas in 1882.”
“The Rev. Benjamin J. Hall, First Union pastor for all but four years (1892-1896) from 1878 until his death in 1914, earned praise for his leadership, efforts to rebuild the church sanctuary after its destruction in the storm of 1900, and for enhancing the congregation’s role as mother church of its Texas state convention. A new brick sanctuary was erected here in 1955.”