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Western Grove Baptist Church

Following emancipation, many African Americans sought a place to gather and worship, and they formed churches. The Western Grove Baptist church was founded in 1885 and is the oldest African American church in New Waverly. The church began as Eastern Grove Baptist Church before it moved to the west side of town. Reverend James Alford, Reverend Joe James, Sr., and Deacons Dick Hill, Will Hargrove, Jack Burl and Edd Bailey were instrumental in the church organization. One acre of land was given to the church on the east side of town near the International-Great Northern Railroad.

In 1914, Reverend B.F. Briggs became pastor followed by Reverend Abe Parker and then Reverend Briggs. In 1930, Reverend Loveless Lewis became pastor and he, along with Mrs. Annie Herndon, organized the choir. Tragedy struck in 1936 when the church was blown down by strong winds. The building remained unused for a year and then was moved to the west side of town with the intention of rebuilding it. The church purchased land from Mr. and Mrs. Frank Kmiecik and the name of the church was changed to Western Grove Baptist Church.

The new building was completed in 1937 under the leadership of Reverend J. Jones. In the 1950s and early 1960s, additions were made to the church including the choir stand, pastor's study, choir room and bell tower. The church was moved to its present location in 1958 when interstate 45 was constructed through this area of the county. This historic church congregation continues to be a spiritual beacon for the community.





Texas Historical Marker, “Western Grove Baptist Church,” East Texas History, accessed July 18, 2024,