Kindled in a brush arbor, East Texas church burns brightly 75 years later

NACOGDOCHES?A brush arbor provided the backdrop for the founding of Fredonia Hill Baptist Church in Nacogdoches in 1934. Seventy-five years later the church has a soaring sanctuary, a Family Life Center accommodating everything from basketball to banquets, and space for Bible study, youth and college gatherings.

An early revival meeting prompted 32 participants to form a church under the leadership of Pastor K.A. Woods. Close to 1,400 members make up the congregation today.

Instead of relying only on word-of-mouth promotion, the church utilizes new technology to spread its message. The sign on the front lawn is digital, the newsletter is delivered online and the church is on Facebook and Twitter, explained member Sherry Williford.

“We’ve come a long way from the days when high tech meant broadcasting Sunday night services on the radio. Yet in every era, the vision to proclaim the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ remains the same,” she said.

Williford said the church has asked the question, “How do you tell the old, old story of his love to a new generation, deliver the eternal gospel of salvation to those in the midst of constant change and provide for the present congregation while planning to influence believers of the future?”

In the last 15 years Fredonia Hill has met those challenges locally through construction projects that allow the church to extend its reach to the community, Williford explained. At the same time, they have expanded mission projects to spread the gospel across the globe. That worldwide focus affected the church more than anyone could have imagined.

After 10 years of service, Pastor Johnny Dammon and his wife, Kathy, decided to return to full-time mission work in Thailand, leaving the church with a legacy of mission service and a vision to fulfill the Great Commission.

“His ministry here has moved us forward in recognizing the importance of foreign missions,” noted Mark Clark, chairman of deacons. “Many people have put feet to their new understanding of what it means to ‘go tell the world.'”

The church adopted a new mission statement to take them into the next 75 years: “Fredonia Hill Baptist Church exists to lead our generation and the next to encounter Christ, to be equipped for life, and to engage in life-changing service to Nacogdoches and beyond.”

That vision will be celebrated during an open house on Sunday, Oct. 11 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at 1711 S. Street in Nacogdoches. For more information contact Billy McDaniel, minister of education and administration at or call 936-564-8386.

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