History of First BaptistReverend Taliaferro was a quiet, scholarly gentleman whom everybody loved. To him the cause of Christ was the most important thing in life, and for that cause he labored unceasingly as pioneer missionary, chaplain, pastor, and author. Reverend Taliaferro's mission was to establish a Baptist Church on the Texas frontier.
Between 1847-1855 the Church met in the Texas Capitol, a one story frame building, in a house at 12th and Lavaca, and later on the third floor of the Lamar-Moore Building at 700 Congress. The first church building was built at 10th and Colorado. In the basement of this building, the Women's Missionary Union of Texas was organized in 1880.
In 1915, the church decided that it had outgrown its old quarters and must build a new home. One year later, on March 12, 1916, Dr. George W. Truett preached the dedication sermon for the new building built on the same lot at 10th and Colorado. It was in this new home that First Baptist Church determined to remain a downtown church, reaching out to the Austin Community and to the world, rather than moving out to the suburbs.
The congregation pushed away from rigid attitudes about theological issues, race relations, women's rights, and social justice, and began to move toward its potential as a moderate, progressive-minded downtown congregation. In the summer of 1963, the church adopted the following resolution: "Inasmuch as First Baptist Church, Austin, Texas has never made race and color a prerequisite for church membership; and inasmuch as we recognize that all men are brothers under God; be it resolved that we reaffirm the historic position of our church and the teachings of Jesus Christ and that we will not now nor in the future restrict the fellowship of this church to the white race."
A Capitol Funds Campaign in April, 1966, was another great hour in the history of First Baptist Church. Clearly more room and a new facility were needed after 50 years. A great location at 9th and Trinity was available in the years following the destruction by fire of Allen Junior High. Fast-forward now to Cornerstone Laying-September, 1969. Church members gathered in the yet-unfinished church to witness the laying of the cornerstone of the new building on top of the cornerstone from the old--a symbol, again, that the present is built upon the foundation of the past. As marchers protesting the killings of four Kent State students by the Ohio National Guradsmen on May 4, 1970, passed by this new building, the old church bell rang from inside its brand new tower, neither in support nor in protest, but because First Baptist Church must stand for reconciliation, loud and and clear.
Now in the 21st century, a mid-19th century missionary's dream continues to reach out in downtown Austin and beyond.