Williamson County
Historical Commission

 


The Taylor Brethren Church Historical Marker Dedication

 

 

   


                               

Taylor Brethren Church Historical Marker Inscription Text

During the 1880s, many Czech Protestant immigrants who settled in the Taylor area were members of the Unity of the Brethren, founded in 1457 by followers of the Czech reformer and martyr Jan Hus. These local Brethren found it difficult to worship in area Protestant churches because of the language barrier most conducted services in German or English. As a result, the Czech immigrants joined together to revive practices of the Unity of the Brethren and worship in their native language.          —

The Rev. Henry Juren of Fayetteville held Taylor's first Czech Protestant service in 1892. As more Czech Protestant immigrants arrived in Central Texas, more Brethren groups formed. Served by traveling ministers, among those was the Taylor Brethren Church, formally organized in 1895. The Rev. Antonin Motycka became the church's first pastor. Three years later, the Brethren Church began using space in the West Taylor Lutheran Church building at this site. In June 1902, the Brethren congregation purchased the property.

The church continued holding worship services in the Czech language until 1967. Today, the congregation recognizes its rich ethnic history, but it is now a diverse body whose members reflect many backgrounds and traditions.

Taylor Brethren Church has played a vital role in the cultural heritage of the community it serves. Throughout the congregation's long history members have continued to worship at this site and to follow the Protestant emphasis and doctrines established by its founders, who came to Texas seeking religious freedom and independence.

(2005

 


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TAYLOR BRETHREN CHURCH

Historical Marker Dedication

Taylor Brethren Church               October 29, 2006

Taylor, Texas                                    2:30 p.m.

 PRELUDE                               Debbie Grimm

OPENING WORDS AND INVOCATION     
          
Pastor James HejI

Good afternoon!

Come, let us mingle our memories and our hopes together, for today is a special day.

Today we celebrate what God has done through the Taylor Brethren Church for 111 years.

Today we remember lives touched by God: hearts united in a common mission and hands joined in a partnership of ministry.

 We remember and honor people of vision and purpose, our predecessors in the priesthood of all believers, whose legacy is love and commitment.

Though our memories may dim with the passage of time, God renews the faith of generation upon generation.
 

We are inspired by God's indwelling Spirit, touched by the witness of the saints, and prepared to follow the Head of the Church, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, wherever he may lead in all the years to come.

Let us pray... Amen.

HYMN 292                                        "God of Grace and God of Glory"

WELCOME                     Chris Kelarek
President, Taylor Brethren Church Board of Elders

RECOGNITION OF SPECIAL GUESTS                      Pastor HejI

CHORAL ANTHEM                                                "Come, Let Us Sing"

INTRODUCTION OF THE HISTORICAL COMMITTEE Comments by the Historical Committee

WE READ GOD'S WORD                                1 Chronicles 17:16:24-27

'6 Then King David went into the Tent of the Lord's presence, sat down, and prayed, "I am not worthy of what you have already done for me, Lord God, nor is my family. 24 Your fame will be great, and people will forever say, 'The Lord Almighty is God over Israel.' And you will preserve my dynasty for all time. 25 I have the courage to pray this prayer to you, my God, because you have revealed all this to me, your servant, and have told me that you will make my descendants kings. 26 You, Lord, are God, and you have made this wonderful promise to me. 27 I ask you to bless my descendants so that they will continue to enjoy your favor. You, Lord, have blessed them, and your blessing will rest on them forever." (Today's English Version) PRAYER


CHORAL ANTHEM            
"Pojd' k Spasiteli!" ("Come to the Savior!")

(The congregation leaves the sanctuary to gather at the marker outside.)

READING THE MARKER INSCRIPTION  

UNVEILING THE MARKER

DEDICATION PRAYER

BENEDICTION

Everyone is invited to the fellowship hall
for refreshments.

TAYLOR BRETHREN CHURCH

        Pastor                                          Church Secretary

James D. HejI                                        Mary Kokes

Board of Elders

Chris Kelarek, Pres.                                    Leroy Kubala

Ted Hejl, V. Pres.                                Conrad DeLeon

Kimberly Stewart, Sec.                              Stanley Zamorsky

Sidney Srnensky, Treas.                             Buddy Michna

Eugene Kokes                                       John Raesz

Arnold Cuba, Jr.                                       Darwin Labaj

Historical Committee

Bill & Deane Hodon                               John & Bennie Stasny

Marie Ann Ripple                                       Mary Kokes

Shirley Mazac                                         Sandra Ging

Karen Peschke                               Pastor HejI (ex officio)Tayor



 


Taylor Brethren Church
Historical Narrative

Seeds for the existence of the Brethren Church in the Taylor area were actually planted in the 1880's when the first Czech-Protestants settled around the Taylor area. They came seeking freedom from oppression-political, religious, and class. [1] Many of these immigrants were from the rural villages of Bohemia and Moravia and were followers of the Czech reformer John Hus, (also Jan Hus) who was martyred for his religious convictions on July 6, 1415. Inspired by the teachings and martyrdom of Hus, a group of his followers banded together in the little village of Kunwald, Bohemia, in 1457 to form the Unity of the Brethren (60 years prior to the beginning of the Protestant Reformation). [2] This denomination flourished in its homeland for almost two centuries. Its leaders had frequent contact with Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox and others in the forefront of the Protestant Reformation. [3] They built churches, schools, printed religious books (The Bible), prayer books, books of sermons, catechisms and song books in the Czech language." After 1620 the Hussites were forbidden to openly practice their religion in their homeland. Many of these Brethren worshiped in secret passing on their love for the truth and their beliefs to their children and future generations. [5]

Following in the tradition of their ancestors these immigrant descendants of the Unity made finding a place of worship in the Taylor area a priority. Although there were already Protestant churches in the area, a severe language barrier prevented these Czech Protestants from worshiping in these various churches. The Protestant churches in the Taylor area conducted their worship services in either English or German. So these early Czech Protestants decided to join together to revive the practices of the ancient Unity of the Brethren and conduct the worship services in their native language. [6]

The first Czech Protestant worship service was held in the Taylor area in 1892 in the Methodist Church and was conducted by Czech-Moravian minister Rev. Henry Juren of Fayetteville, Texas. [7] Thus the groundwork for the establishment of an organized congregation was laid. These Czech immigrants continued to worship in small groups in the Waterloo, Columbia, Tyler, Rice's Crossing, New Sweden and Elgin communities. They were served by visiting Moravian ministers primarily from the Fayetteville-Brenham areas. In addition to the Rev. Henry Juren, they were Adolph Chlumsky, Bohumil Lacjak, J. Shier and Antonin Motycka. Among those who gathered for these early worship services were the families of Josef Pokorny, John Pokorny, George Zak, Frank Leshikar and Josef Svadlenak. [8]

As more and more Czech Protestant families moved into the area, the desire for a formally organized congregation increased. As a result the Taylor congregation was born. In 1895 the Taylor Brethren congregation was organized. Josef Pokorny was elected to serve as president and Tom Mikus as secretary. The Rev. Antonin Motycka was called as the first pastor.9 Although he had to travel from Nelsonville, (near Brenham), he continued to serve as pastor until 1898 and again from 1906-1908.

In 1898 the recently organized Czech congregation accepted an offer from the West Taylor Lutheran congregation to share the use of its church building, [10] located at the corner of Sloan and Cecelia Streets." Along with a new meeting place, the Taylor Congregation had a change in pastors. Dr. Bohumil Kubrecht served as pastor from 1898 until 1901 when he left to pursue further studies.12

The Taylor Brethren Congregation secured its first permanent home in June of 1902, when the current site was purchased from the Lutherans for $1,000.00. [13] In researching the original deed for this property an interesting fact came to light. It became apparent that the original owner of the site, A. V. Doak, intended that the property be used for religious worship. He included in the deed to the Lutheran Church (June 25, 1893) that a church house be immediately erected and used by the Lutheran Church for worship, and if the site ceased to be used for that purpose, it would revert back to the Doak heirs. [14] During the transfer of ownership of the property from the Lutheran Church to the Taylor Congregation, a subsequent deed from the Doak heirs was required and executed." The original intent for this site is being honored even today. Serving as pastor during this purchase was Rev. Adolph Chlumsky (1901-1906; 1908-1910.) In their capacity as trustees Josef Cuba, Vinc Hejl, Josef Svadlenak, Tom Mikus, John Pokorny and John Zak guided the congregation in this successful achievement. [16]

Although this building was replaced in 1923, this location remains the permanent home of the Taylor Brethren Church. The congregation eventually acquired ownership of the entire block bounded by Sloan, Cecilia, Wyeth, and Seventh Streets. [[17]

The desire for religious freedom and economic opportunity that brought the first Czech Protestants to the Taylor area was also shared by their fellow Brethren who arrived in Texas during the 1850's. As these Czech Protestant immigrants spread through various areas of Central Texas, the desire to renew the Unity of the Brethren began to grow. That dream became a reality when representatives of eleven congregations, including the Taylor congregation, gathered and organized the Evangelical Unity of the Czech-Moravian Brethren at the Granger Brethren Church, December 23, 1903. [18]

In 1910, the newly-ordained Rev. Josef Barton was called and served Taylor and Granger jointly for 35 years, living in the Granger parsonage. [19]

During the next thirteen years the Taylor Congregation family continued to grow in spirit and numbers, resulting in a need for a larger home. Planning for a new building program began. Since Rev. Barton had received engineering training in Europe, and was skilled in church planning, he was able to help design the new facility. On May 20, 1923, a new worship facility was dedicated with at least 1500 people present. The cost of the new building was $11,000. At the time it was considered the most beautiful church building in the denomination. [20] It remained the center of worship for the Taylor Brethren Church until 1966 when the present Sanctuary was dedicated.

Through the years, the Taylor Congregation has continued to grow and expand. During the nine year period, 1947 to 1955, the Taylor Congregation built its first educational and fellowship facility, remodeled and expanded it and built its first parsonage. The congregation also experienced change in leadership. Upon the death of Rev. Josef Barton in 1945, Rev. Josef Hegar assumed leadership of the Congregation until his death in 1948. After his passing, the congregation was served by visiting pastors before obtaining the services of Rev. Frank Svoboda in 1949. Rev. Svoboda was the first resident pastor of the congregation. [21] The first parsonage was built in 1949 at the corner of Seventh and Sloan Streets.

The first Education and Fellowship Building for the Taylor Czech-Moravian Brethren Church was developed in 1947 during the pastorate of Rev. Josef Hegar. It was remodeled and expanded in 1953 and dedicated May 15, 1955, with Rev. Frank Svoboda as pastor.

Through the years, the Taylor congregation has remained true to its original mission of offering protestant worship services in the Czech language to the Czech community. For example, Czech sermons were heard each week over KTAE Radio during the 1950's, conducted by Rev. Frank Svoboda. [22] In fact as late as 1967, the Taylor Brethren Church still offered monthly services in the Czech language. [23]

The 1960's were to become another era of renewed expansion for the Taylor Congregation. It was during this era that the current Church home was built. When Rev. Josef A. Barton was called to serve as pastor, beginning January 1, 1959, he was told by the Board of Elders "One of our special dreams is to build a new church. Your father helped build the last one and we want you to help us with our next one". [24] Groundbreaking for the present sanctuary took place on Easter Sunday, April 18, 1965. One year later on April 24, 1966, the current sanctuary was dedicated. Following in his father's footsteps, Rev. Josef A. Barton had helped the congregation fulfill their special dream. True to its historical beginnings the bell from the old Church with its Czech inscription "Sbor Ev. Jednoty C. M. Bratty v. Taylor, Tex 1923" (Congregation Evangelical Unity Czech Moravian Brethren in Taylor, Texas 1923) was transferred to the new sanctuary.

With the completion of the new sanctuary the demand for additional educational and fellowship facilities increased. It was under the pastorate of Rev. Daniel J. Marek that this challenge was met. Groundbreaking for the new Education Building was held on May 20, 1976. The work was completed and the building dedicated on January 30, 1977. Rev. Marek served the Taylor Congregation from 1971 until 1985. [25]

In 1985 the Taylor Congregation called Rev. James D. Hejl to serve as their minister. Rev. Hejl is the great-grandson of one of the founders of the Taylor congregation, Vinc Hejl. Rev. Hejl began his pastorate in August 1985 and continues as the current pastor. During his tenure the Taylor Congregation has continued to meet each challenge as an opportunity to grow. The congregation retired the remainder of its debts and turned their thoughts to upgrading and expansion.

In the 1990's the Taylor Congregation continued to demonstrate its commitment to progress. On July 12, 1992, a new parsonage located at 309 Cherrywood Circle was dedicated. In addition to facility expansion the congregation expanded its ministry to the community. In 1993, the congregation expanded its permanent pastoral staff for the first time in its history. Rev. Daniel J. Marek rejoined the staff of the Taylor Brethren Church as a part-time associate pastor working with Rev. Hejl to better serve the needs of the church, whose active membership numbered approximately 400. [26]

In 1995 the Taylor Congregation once again undertook a major remodeling project, this time the Sanctuary.

The Taylor Brethren Church, which celebrated its 100th Anniversary on October 15, 1995, remains the first and only Czech Protestant Church in Taylor, Texas.
As with many independent congregations, the official name of the congregation underwent many changes through the years.

• Deed Records for the purchase of the first church home for this congregation in 1902 indicates that the congregation was named the Bohemian and Moravian Brothers (Brethren) Reformed Evangelical Church
• In 1903 the Taylor congregation came together with other Brethren congregations to officially form the Evangelical Unity of the Czech-Moravian Brethren in North America.
• In 1904 the Taylor congregation was chartered as The Evangelical Union of the Bohemian-Moravian Brethren.
• In 1910 when the congregation bought two more parcels of land for the church their official name was Evangelical Union of the Bohemian-Moravian Brethren.
• In 1959 the Taylor congregation became known as the Taylor Brethren Church in accordance with the name change of the denomination to Unity of the Brethren in Texas.
Growing from its modest beginnings in 1895, the Taylor Brethren Church is now a major congregation within the Unity. The Taylor Congregation has met each new challenge with faith and commitment for over 100 years.

A scripture verse that has served to guide the congregation through more than 100 years is I Samuel 7:12: `...Thus far has the Lord helped us.' These are words that stand as a reminder that the Lord has touched the people of the Taylor Brethren Church through many generations, and has used them to touch others. But there is always more to be done. The congregation has come a long way and seen many changes since the early days when it was organized as a ministry primarily to Czech-speaking immigrants. Today, while the church recognizes and celebrates its ethnic origin and heritage it is also a diverse body whose members come from many backgrounds and walks of life.

Throughout the years, the Taylor Brethren congregation has maintained a traditional Protestant emphasis in doctrine; stressing Christian life and striving for sincere expression of Christian love and fellowship. [27]

Through God's grace, the future looks bright for this family of believers as they prepare for the second century of ministry in God's name. [28]

Taylor Brethren Church endnotes PDF



 
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