The history of Southcliff Baptist Church reflects the foresight of the many believers who have preceded us. It also demonstrates the strong desire to follow the will of God and a heart for unity that exists within the church today.
The beginnings of Southcliff date back to the early part of the twentieth century. In 1901 or 1902, Mrs. A.J. (Kate) Parks began the Seventh Ward Mission under the care, guidance, and support of Broadway Baptist Church. In October 1904, the Kentucky Avenue Baptist Church was formed out of the Seventh Ward Mission and met at a site on the corner of Terrell and Kentucky Avenues. The church consisted of about thirty members, and John R. Touchstone was called as the pastor.
After it’s building burned in December 1920, Kentucky Avenue Baptist Church secured a lot on the southeast corner of Elmwood and Evans Avenues where a facility was constructed in one day, and the name was changed to Tabernacle Baptist Church. In 1941, several years after the completion of a new sanctuary and youth building, the church’s name was changed again – this time to Evans Avenue Baptist Church.
Tabernacle Baptist Church Teachers & Officers
In 1951 the church purchased an entire city block one and one-half miles to the south at the corner of Evans and Baker Avenues. The property at Evans and Elmwood was sold in 1957 and facilities were constructed on the new property. Dedication of the relocated Evans Avenue Baptist Church was held on September 7, 1958.
As the new facilities were being opened, Evans Avenue, until then a thriving church, was facing a declining membership as people left the city for the areas that were growing around its perimeter. One of those newly developing areas was Westcliff. Broadway Baptist Church, which sponsored the mission that eventually became Evans Avenue Baptist Church, also established a mission church in Westcliff in 1957. Initial meetings of the mission were held in schools and a borrowed church facility. Ground was broken for a new church facility in the spring of 1957 at 4913 Walden Avenue and in October 1960, Westcliff Baptist Church became an independent church.
A casual conversation between several members of the two churches in early 1966 launched the idea of merging Evans Avenue and Westcliff into a single church. As the merits of such a merger became evident, the casual discussions quickly became serious, and in late 1966 the congregations of the two churches agreed to merge. Southcliff Baptist Church was established on August 21, 1966. Frank Minton, who had been the Evans avenue pastor since February of 1964, became the pastor of Southcliff Baptist Church and Dr. Frank Moore, the Westcliff pastor, became co-pastor. Dr. Moore left in 1967 to teach at Oklahoma State University.
Frank Moore & Frank Minton & Southcliff’s First Building (Now the Admin. Building)
In 1967, the average Sunday School attendance was 465. The only existing space was the building that is now known as the Administration Building, the location of the present church offices. In 1967, it had an auditorium with a capacity of less than 300.
A short term answer to what has proved to be an ongoing problem – insufficient space for members and growth – was to hold Sunday School in the neighboring Westcliff Methodist Church and to hold two worship services while a $650,000 auditorium and educational unit, now the Children’s Building, were built. A tram, acquired from the new Six Flags amusement park, was used to transport Sunday School members between Westcliff Methodist Church and Southcliff. Within one year of the completion of the new facilities, crowded conditions required a return to simultaneous dual Sunday School and worship services.
Southcliff’s Second Worship Center & Dr. & Mrs. W. Hal Brooks
Dr. Daniel Vestal was called to pastor Southcliff Baptist Church in September 1972. He led Southcliff to build the Education Building with only the first floor being completed. This extra space allowed the return to a single Sunday School. Dr. Vestal was called to First Baptist Church, Midland, TX in April 1976.
In October 1976 Paul Burleson was called to pastor Southcliff Baptist Church. Southcliff experienced unprecedented and phenomenal growth through God’s leadership. Both sides of the sanctuary were extended to add additional seating and the second floor of the Education Building was completed for a growing Sunday School.
Dr. W. Hal Brooks became the fourth pastor of Southcliff in July 1983. Southcliff continued to grow and ground was broken for a preschool education building. The church also purchased and furnished a house at 4141 Whitfield in 1983. This home continues to provide housing for missionary families on home leave. Dr. Brooks went home to be with the Lord, following a year battle with cancer, in April 1987. The W. Hal Brooks Preschool Building was dedicated in May 1988.
Preschool Building & Temporary Sprung Building
Dr. Charles A. Stewart was called as pastor in August 1988. The houses on the Selkirk side of the church property were torn down, a much needed parking lot was constructed, professionally landscaped, and dedicated in November of 1990. Dr. Stewart was called to Cana Baptist Church in October 1996.
Dr. Carroll Marr was called to be the pastor of Southcliff in November 1998. Under his leadership, the church has continued to grow. In the fall of 1999, the existing auditorium was torn down and construction began on a new 1,400 seat, 6 million dollar building. A temporary structure was erected to house worship activities during the construction of the new auditorium until it’s completion.
Easter Sunday, April 15, 2001, Southcliff celebrated its first Sunday in the new building. In addition to the new facilities and ministries, a renewed emphasis on evangelism and missions has characterized Dr. Marr’s leadership.
Current Worship Center
In 2006, Southcliff purchased additional property, now known as the Southcliff Annex, to provide space for Youth and College ministries. Additional upgrades were made to all facilities to provide compelling environments for all groups to use for worship, grow and serve spaces.
The decade of 2010 will be marked by the visionary leadership of Dr. Marr in positioning Southcliff to implement a strategy to guide people of all generations and backgrounds into a thriving relationship with God.