Williamson County
Historical Commission

 

  Mount Arie (Mount Ararat)
Missionary Baptist Church

Historical Marker
Bartlett, Texas

529 S. Bowie Street

 
  Marker Text
Bartlett was a small farming community in 1898. Black American laborers arrived each fall for the cotton harvest. Thomas Sanders and Nelson Secret and their families called the Reverend F. E. Garrett of Temple to help them establish Mount Arie Missionary Baptist Church in June 1898. Among the first families of the church were those of the Reverend W. M. Muckleroy, Wallace Dotray and C. A. Harris. The small congregation originally met on the Bell County side of Bartlett, but in 1910 had grown enough to prompt a move to Brook Street in Williamson County. The years 1921 and 1933 were lean ones. The church building was moved to Bowie Street in 1953 because of unstable land on its Brook Street site. The structure was modernized in the 1960s and 1970s. Membership increased dramatically, and the congregation began to integrate after 1977. The eighth decade of the church's history brought new developments. The congregation moved into a new brick facility in 1980, the same year the church name was changed to Mount Ararat Missionary Baptist Church after it was discovered that Mount Arie was an abbreviation for the name of the mountain on which Noah's Ark landed as depicted in the Old Testament. The Mount Ararat Missionary Baptist Church celebrated its centennial in June 1998. The congregation supports widespread missionary and outreach programs. The membership and its diversity continue to increase as the congregation carries on in the traditions of its founders. (1999)
 
 



Mount Ararat Missionary Baptist Church
529 South Bowie Street at Aisne
State of Texas, County of Williamson
City of Bartlett, 76511

Historical Narrative by Researched and written by:
Teresia Davis Lewis, Program Committee Chairperson

CHURCH HISTORY
An Account of Past Facts and Events 1898 - 1998

In a small community where cotton farming was chief industry, where flew Black .families lived, and where Black .farm laborers came into the town to pick the cotton during the Fall season and who returned to their various homes once the cotton was all gathered, the Mount Arie Missionary Baptist Church, of Bartlett, Texas, had its beginning.

In June of 1898, two families from Kelso, Texas decided to settle in this community. They were the Nelson Secret and Thomas Sanders families. Usually on Sundays, they would pass the time of day playing dominoes. Having no churches nor schools for Blacks in Bartlett, these two men decided to come into town to see how many Black people they could find who would be interested in organizing a church. They were able to locate two families; however, they were of the Methodist faith. These two men were very instrumental in organizing the Saint Stephens Methodist Church.

This arrangement did not satisfy Brother Secret, so he and Brother Sanders decided to call in a minister to help organize a Baptist Church. In June of 1898, Mount Arie Missionary Baptist Church was established. It is the oldest Baptist Church in Bartlett founded by blacks. Reverend F. E. Garrett (1898-1903) of Temple, Texas became organizer and first pastor. The first members to unite with the Church were Reverend W. M. Muckleroy, Brother Wallace Dotray, and Brother C. A. Harris families.

The second pastor, Reverend J. H. Winn (1903-1905), of Fort Worth and Austin, Texas began his leadership. [1] "When Mount Arie was organized, it was located on Happy Hollow Road, (the now Rufus Anderson homeplace) in Bell County, Bartlett, Texas." [2] In 1910, the church was moved to Salt Lake, J. W. Jackson Addition, on Brook Street, in Williamson County, Bartlett, Texas, across the dump that was once used as B & W Railroad. The Church was young. As a result, it had its ups and downs. The following is a list of pastors who led the Church:

1. Rev. James Kelley, (1905-1909) Waco, Texas stayed a short time.
2. Rev. Henry Williams, (1910-1919) Austin, Texas was called. The church was moved to Salt Lake. He resigned for health reasons.
3. Reverend A. L. Taylor (1919 -1921) of Houston and Hearn, Texas pastored for 1 I/2 years.

From 1921-1933, the church was at its lowest ebb. The preachers would come and go. Among those who served were Reverend J. H. Hardeman, Reverend B. S. Peoples of Illinois, Reverend J. C. Lott of Austin, Texas, Reverend J. H. Brooks of Lockhart, Texas, and Reverend F. G. Lofton of Waco, Texas. Then came the "split" of Mount Arie. More than half of the membership left. They organized New Mount Zion Baptist Church, located on North East Front Street (the now Helen Miller homeplace). Mount Arie really struggled through this period. Sanctioned by the Lord and with the help of Reverend W. M. Muckleroy, Reverend E. L. Johnson, (1934- 1956) became pastor. All of the former members returned, and New Mount Zion was closed down. Reverend Johnson remained with the Church. [3]

Previously, Blacks attended the Bartlett Public School for Colored, in Iwo, framed buildings, on Arnold Drive, in J. W. Jackson's Addition. In 1948, blacks attended the new and accredited Booker T. Washington High School in Bell County. Vitality and inspiration, honor and integrity became a part of young boys and girls' lives. This spirit spread throughout the school. Booker T advanced to Class A. Gentry L. Powell (coach/teacher) and his wife, Marguerite (principal/ teacher) were the primary educators. Coach Powell's career ended with 12 District wins, 1 State Semi-Final, 1 State Championship in .football, and 5 boys Field and Track State championships. In 1964, the Booker T Washington football team became State Champions. Later, Gentry (deceased 1976) and wife became members of Mount Arie Baptist Church. The school served Bartlett, Holland, Granger, and Davilla students. [4]

Through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Pastor Johnson brought the congregation from a mighty long way. For an example, there was a period when we could not convene church services because when the rains came, we literally had to worship. in the mud. Pastor Johnson informed the membership that there was a real need for a better location. A majority of the members agreed with him, but some did not agree. Once the effort was under way, the ones in the minority began to act like the spies who were sent over to view the promised land. They had said it could not be done. Nevertheless, the Lord was with Pastor Johnson. He said, "Let's us make the move." [5]

In 1953, Mount Arie's edifice was moved to its present location, being a part of Lot 1, Block 2, J. W. Jackson's Addition to the City of Bartlett, Williamson County, Texas (529 South Bowie Street at Aisne). Wayne Goodnight renovated and remodeled the transported structure. [6] After 22 years of effective service, Reverend Johnson's health began to fail, and he resigned. Then the church called the Reverend E. L. Williams of Temple, Texas. He served 11.2 years. The next Pastor was Reverend P. H. Williams of Valley Mills, Texas. He remained one (1) year.

Reverend J. L. Harris, (1961-1977) of Austin, Texas was called. The church was able to make much progress under his leadership. In the former church edifice, carpet, air-conditioning, restrooms, and paneling were installed. A new piano was purchased. Knowledge of the Bible was his main focus. Teaching the Word of God was one of his greatest strength. Reverend Harris became ill. He remained with the Church for 15 years--until his death. The last pioneer who was in the organization of Mount Arie was Edna Sanders. She passed away August 14, 1963, at the age of 90, during the pastorate of Reverend J. L. Harris. [7]

On May 8, 1977, the Lord sent us Reverend Ira Lewis (1977-1994) of Austin, Texas. He was a man of God who fed us much wholesome and Spiritual food and who gave us profound insight into the Word. Through his rigid doctrinal teaching and careful guidance, he won the hearts and trust of the members; thus, we became a loving, caring, and obedient living organism--a local church family. Many, many souls accepted Christ--Red and yellow, black and white were welcomed in the fold Because the church was not equipped with a baptistery, Pastor Lewis conducted the baptizing ceremonies at the Bartlett City Swimming Pool. As many as 75 to 80 candidates within a two-month time period were taken under the water.

Pastor Lewis was a pioneer in the work of the Lord as well as in the Bartlett community. Under his pastorate, Mount Ararat was the _first black church to host an Integrated Bartlett High School Baccalaureate service. Pastor Lewis was selected salutatorian of the 1980 graduating class a! Guadalupe Theological Seminary, in San Antonio, Texas. He was a man who had intense insight into Spiritual things. He became concerned about the name of the Church. He did research on other churches that carried the same name--Mount Arie. He went to Taylor, Texas and into other surrounding areas. He talked with members and pastors of other churches, along with members of Mount Arie. All respondents gave identical answers to what was the meaning of the Church's name: The churches were named for the mountain on which Noah's Ark landed-- Genesis 8:4. In the business meeting, August 5, 1980, Pastor Lewis stated, "Whatever I say about you or the Church, I got it from Heaven." Upon Pastor Lewis' recommendation, the church accepted and voted to change the name from Mount Arie Missionary Baptist Church to Mount Ararat Missionary Baptist Church. "The Cornerstone was laid December 13, 1981. It carries both past and present names.

A group of members left the church .for an unknown reason. The church stayed in prayer. On a Friday evening, Pastor and Sister Lewis visited the home of one of the group. The Pastor said to her, ["To die outside her family church would not be good. [7] She said, ["I was wondering when you were coming to get me." J She and a majority of them returned to Mount Ararat. They were graciously and warmly received. It was a joyous occasion. [8]
The membership grew fast. the facility could not adequately accommodate the increased group nor its future visionary plans. Pastor Lewis led the church into a building program. The members, in various groups, paid cash for furniture in areas of the kitchen, dining room, classrooms, and Pastor's Study. Also, new musical instruments (organ and piano) were purchased. On October 12, 1980, the church family marched into the first, .fully equipped, brick veneer edifice for a membership that was at one time attended by blacks only. There were no financial obligations, save one--the "Church Note." Reverend Calvin Carter of Georgetown was the building contractor.

Pastor Lewis' expressed target date to pay out the church building debt was .June of 1994. The Lord truly .fulfilled and answered his prayer. His desire came to fruition, even after his death, (February 6, 1994). The church celebrated "Operation June '94: Mission Accomplished: Sunday, June 12, 1994, the members brought their monetary gifts to the Lord's House. They brought more than enough to pay the balance owed. Sunday, June 26,1994, the church observed a "Note Burning Service which ended the indebtedness of the Church. Building. These two activities closed the book on Reverend Ira Lewis' dedicated work and pastorial service in the Bartlett and surrounding communities. [9]

Notwithstanding, Pastor Lewis left a futuristic legacy. He introduced (April 1, 1989) and left behind a futuristic vision. For the reason that the church is so important in the lives of youth and others in the city of Bartlett and surrounding communities, he beheld a village whereby (I) an Activity Center. designed for the Young and the Aged. This project is an initial step leading toward a promising future--a facility whereby counseling, tutoring, religious, social, emotional and physical interacting would be provided for both the young and the aged, (2) a Parsonage for the church Pastor and his family to reside, and (3) Facilities for other community service needs, i.e., a washeteria, cafe, dwellings, etc.

The village will be on Lots 1, 2, and 3 of Block I of the J. W. Jackson's addition. It is a parcel of land running parallel to the west side of Mount Ararat. Sister Teresia Lewis, the wife of the late Reverend Ira Lewis, approached Mr. Cirilo Rodriguez, one of the property owners, as he walked the land. She walked across the street to inquire about buying of the land. Mr. Rodriguez said that he had promised Pastor Lewis first choice of the estate purchase. Then, Sister Lewis brought in outside counsel to answer legal preliminary questions. "Me Wheels Were Set in Motion." The Pastor and Church, again, approved the project. Brother Charles Smith, deacon chairperson and trustee, along with other brothers did the necessary" foot work." Sister G. L. Powell, a church trustee, did the "leg work' She negotiated with lawyers and bankers. Today, this vision is being realized. For Mount Ararat is now owner of this parcel of land. [10]

THE WORK OF THE LORD MARCHES ON
The leadership of the Church is in good hands. Today, Mount Ararat Missionary Baptist Church is "Alive and Well." Stepping off the shoulder of Pastor Ira Lewis comes a dynamic, spritual-minded, humble servant. Wednesday evening, September 28, 1994, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the spiritual direction of Moderator G. V. Clark, Mount Ararat unanimously selected a hometown, membership minister to Pastor and feed the Flock of God--Reverend Daniel L. Blane, Sr. He chose for his Installation theme "The Highest Goal: Growing in the Grace and Knowledge of the Lord" II Peter 3:18. Under his leadership, many souls have come to Christ. For sure, Pastor Blane has taken the Spiritual baton, and he is running with it.

Pastor Blanc encourages the Church to be about the Father's biddings: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever 1 have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen." Matthew 28:19-20. He wants the members to support the. Church spiritually and financially, to pray mightily, and for sure, to love one another as Christ loves us.

Traditionally, Mount Arie/Ararat has vigorously involved itself in Bible study and membership training. For a number of years, and up to this present time, the church has operated under five auxiliaries: Brotherhood, Mission I, Mission 11, .Junior Mission, a Youth Department. It has two departments: Baptist Training Union (BTU) and Sunday School (Bible Teaching). Praying, soul-saving, prayer, music, youth activities and community involvement are, and have always been, vital components of the Mount Ararat church ministry.
Mount Ararat supports local, state, national, and world christian education conventions and conferences. The main .foci are on mission and christian education. We believe the mission of the Church is. first, last, and always 10 save souls. Pastor Blanc exhorts us to seek the lost and reclaim those who have gone astray. The membership is growing and is fastly becoming more and more integrated. Mere is no color barrier. The church serves the Bartlett, Davilla, Taylor, Round Rock, Granger, Temple, Round Rock, Austin, Belton, Killeen, and Hutto areas. Pastor Blanc received an Associate Degree of Theology from Faith Institute Seminary, May, 1996. [11]

Researched and written by:
Teresia Davis Lewis, Program Committee Chairperson
for the 100th Year Celebration
1204 Coleto Street
Austin, TX 78702
Tel: 512/478-6062


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