In the mid 1900’s there were only two churches in the Bear Creek Community, Allen Chapel A.M.E. and Shady Grove C.M.E. They were not of the Baptist denomination. Because of this, on Sundays, Mrs. Mary Morton dressed her granddaughter, Dixie, in her Sunday best and walked three miles to worship at the Mt. Elam Baptist Church in Frog Town, an area between Bear Creek and Grand Prairie. Occasionally, her grandsons, Delmar and Samuel Morton, would go with her. One day, Mrs. Morton asked fellow worshipers, sisters, Mrs. Isye L. Holmes and Mrs. Josey O. Davis about forming a church.
Busy Bee Mission
Working under the umbrella of the Busy Bee Mission, the three devout Christian women, Mrs. Davis, Mrs. Holmes and Morton had a vision for the first Negro Baptist Church in Irving. The church would serve the Bear Creek Community, the oldest settlement of freed slaves in North Texas, and among the oldest in the State of Texas.
Persons interested in being a part of the new church were instructed to see Mrs. Davis, Mrs. Holmes or Mrs. Morton who were well known by all residents. “I am not walking three miles to Church any more, The Lord is going to bless us with a Church in Bear Creek,” said Mrs. Morton. The ladies were prayerful that the Church would be formed in the next two months.
Irving Welcomes First Negro Baptist Church
On October 16, 1941, the spirit was in the Old Sowers School Building No. 2 as more than 60 people came to fellowship. The dream of the three ladies became a reality. They talked, offered prayers and thanksgiving, praised the Lord, sang and welcomed all who wanted to unite with them at the new Baptist Church. They worshipped at the school until they were able to get their own land and building. Mrs. Holmes expected a name for the Church and the calling of a shepherd to lead the flock within a few months.
New Church Receives Name and Pastor
After many prayers, the new Negro Baptist Church was named in January 1942. Its official name was Ben Washington First Baptist Church. Ben in honor of the father of Mrs. Mary Morton, and Washington, the name of Mrs. Holmes and Mrs. Davis’s father.
Later in the spring, through the acquaintance of Mrs. Emma Taylor and the three founders, the members called as their first pastor, Rev. J.L. Lott from Dallas. Mrs. Davis was named Church Clerk. Edwin Collins, Fred Wheeler, Willard Jackson, C. Russell, Urbin Carraway, J.O Davis, M. J. Morton and A.L. Green served as Deacons and Trustees. Through organized fundraisers, Mrs. Morton, Mrs. Davis, Mrs. Holmes, and Mrs. Green helped purchase the land whereon the church structure lies. Under the leadership Rev. J.L. Lott the church began to grow and as a result, an additional wing was constructed. Rev Lott served as pastor for 19 years until he became ill and retired.
In 1961, the church called Rev. Joseph R. Sheppard to serve as pastor. Under his leadership, the church built a new edifice. The building plan began with the purchase of land in 1964 for a new parking lot and on the first Sunday in January 1967, ground was broken. The Lord blessed that on the 3rd Sunday in July, the members and officers entered the new edifice. Through much prayer and the desire for the preached Word of