Chapter 5: First 40 Years of New Testament Christianity in Dripping Springs, Texas

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In the late 1930s a brother Clyde Hedge was instrumental in gathering the Driftwood and Teck groups to worship in Dripping Springs. Services in these early years were held at the old theater, Methodist tabernacle and the old school house. The preaching was done by many different men, some of them sent by larger congregations in Austin. Some 30 brethren would meet together on Sunday morning to study the Bible, sing praises and partake of the Lord’s Supper.

In late 1941, because of the number of worshipers and frequent changes the in the meeting location, the decision was made to construct a building. Paul Sorrell, Wylie Haydon and Glynn Key signed a $500 note at Austin National Bank in December 1941. The money was used to buy the building materials at cost from Calcasieu Lumber Company and pay the salaries of two carpenters, Bill Dewey and Pete Turner. Lumber from the Teck church building that was disassembled was also used in the construction. Many brethren helped with the construction and in a very brief time the building was in use. Furniture in the building was either home made or donated, most of it by the East Second church in Austin.

Gatherings were a little bit unusual because the original building had but one room. In good weather, classes for the younger ages would meet in the parked cars and under trees while the adults studied in the auditorium. Bad weather forced all classes indoors and different groups would meet in different corners of the auditorium. Two wood stoves kept about 40 people warm during these years. The Bible class arrangements were simplified by the later addition of two classrooms.

It was not uncommon for the brethren to have dinner-on-the-grounds under the big oak tree after morning services. If someone wished to obey the gospel and be baptized, many of the members would accompany him down to the “bathtub” or the “little dam” on Onion Creek. Both places were popular swimming holes. Contributions were used to pay the preacher, support occasional mission work and send a monthly $5 contribution to an orphans home.

During the early 40s the war dominated most people’s thinking. There was hardly a family that did not have a son away in the service. Some families had nearly all their male members away at war. These loved ones were mentioned in every prayer offered by the church.

Among those who came to Dripping Springs to preach were brothers Bryant, Hall, Showalter, Westbrook and Hays. Also preaching were brothers Smith, Black, and Crow. Gospel meetings held by brothers Hall, Ledbetter, DeSpain and others, were always two weeks long. Brother Foy would lead singing for many of these meetings. Area-wide singings were often held at Blanco, Johnson City, Marble Falls and Dripping Springs.

The 50s were a turning point for the church in Dripping Springs, in more ways than one. Thecommunity experienced a decline in population as many younger couples moved into Austin to seek employment. Worship attendance, which had increased in the late 40s and early 50s, reflected the community’s population change and the attendance dropped to between 40 and 50 people. Contributions averaged about one dollar per person. During this decade the highway’s path was changed and the State of Texas provided the funds to turn the building to accommodate the new highway. When the church building was moved, the “preacher’s house” was attached to it to provide additional classrooms. In the early 60s many of the ladies of the church would also meet in this house once a week to sew quilts for the Medina Children’s Home.

Brother Clifford Maxwell, who lived in Wimberley, had long urged the church to appoint elders. This advice was followed during these years, and brothers John C. Hudson, Glenn Key and Jarrell Moore were appointed as the first elders in Dripping Springs. At the same time Wylie Haydon, Loyd Sorrell and Frank Toungate were appointed as the first deacons. Brother Ray Kelley took an active part in the local work by printing the bulletin and teaching a training class for young men.

The 60s proved to be a brighter time for the Dripping Springs church. Many of the couples who had earlier moved away began to return to the community. During several successful gospel meetings, some held by Harvey Starling, many were baptized. Those attending services began to number in the 80s, beyond the capacity of the old building, so a new building was planned and constructed in 1969. Brother Paul Sorrell loaned the church the money to construct the new building. Prior to his passing, he generously made provision to retire the loan. Many of the members did much of the work in finishing and decorating the building. Used pews and furniture were purchased for the new facility.

Several of the Christians who preached during these years had a lasting influence. Among them were Jerry Webb, Norman Starling, Dick Still and Leathel Roberts. Brother Damon Smith aided this congregation by holding singing schools during meetings. Sister Betty Starling taught Ladies’ Bible Classes.

The early 70s were a replay of the problems of the 50s as the church attendance reflected the declining population of the community. The “Gas Crisis” of 1973 caused many who had been commuting to work in Austin to seek homes nearer their jobs. The church was also saddened by the deaths of many of its original members. New elders such as Herschel Bonnett, Harland Moore, Ernest Williamson, Bud Worthy and Grady Moore and deacons like Richard Wright, Ed Gage, Bill McNair and Billy Hyde were appointed to work with preachers such as Jimmy Moore and Leathel Roberts.

In the later 70s the church remained fairly stable. The liberality of the members allowed financial support to be sent to Brazil and the northwest United States. During this time several members from the Wimberley area left to help begin the New Testament church there. Tim Ayers, who attended the Southwest School of Bible Studies in Austin with financial support from the brethren in Dripping Springs, was their preacher.

In the 1980s the church of Christ in Dripping Springs continued its labors under the oversight of Grady Moore, Bud Worthy and Jack Sedwick. Billy Hyde, Bill McNair and Lowie Walker served as deacons. Kent Singleton, Don Prather and Carl Garner preached for the congregation during this decade.

 

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