The history of Manchaca Baptist Church spans a century and a quarter of a mile along FM 1626. In October 1918, Rev. Webb Townsley founded the church with 10 members. Today, Manchaca Baptist has close to 1,500 members, with 250 attending on an average Sunday.
“This church has been the hub of our [family’s] social life,” said Judy Kirksey, a member since 1979. “The continuity of it over the years has been so important to us.”
Since its founding, the church has focused on giving back, lead pastor Jason White said. Manchaca Baptist hosts free community events, including a fall festival and vacation Bible school. The church offers food, clothes and medical equipment to those in need, he said.
“We’ve been in the community for the last 100 years, and we’ve been serving our community all along,” White said. “Service is something we intend to continue.”
In its early days, Manchaca Baptist met in a wooden building without electricity, according to church records. As the livery stables and cotton gin of rural Manchaca faded into memory, the church modernized to meet residential growth with expansion of its own, Kirksey said.
In 1960, the church built a red brick sanctuary, and 17 years later, it purchased a nearby elementary school building.
In 2001, six weeks before moving into a new sanctuary, painters’ rags were ignited behind the choir loft. The fire severely damaged the building. Services were not held in the space until 2004, White said.
Church members said the sanctuary now has ample space to be a hub for community activities and service projects.
“This isn’t our building,” J.P. Kirksey, Judy’s husband, said. “It’s God’s building. We want it to be used for the good of the community. That was our mission from the very groundbreaking of it.”