February 23, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

I’ve written about church buildings taking on new uses after congregations move away or disband. Another fate for old an old church building is to become a place of worship for an entirely new congregation.   The Holy Temple Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith in Belton worships in just this kind of building.  The structure appears to have been built fairly recently. But it has two cornerstones that reveal interesting information about its lineage.

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The newer cornerstone marks the congregation that apparently built this structure and then moved away. Magnolia Baptist Church dedication plaque is from 1980. The congregation still exists in Belton. Its website notes that it moved to a new structure in 1983. That would indicate the church had a very short stay. The website notes a dynamic pastor from that era. Perhaps the congregation experienced explosive growth and quickly needed more room. Or it could be the congregation struggled and the pastor moved the congregation to new ground after some turmoil. Neither of the two churches’ websites offer any further information about this period of transition.

The second cornerstone is the more intriguing. The carving and lettering are typical of the late 19th century. The symbol of the Odd Fellows, three interlocking links with the letters FLT (Friendship, Love, Truth) is prominent.   The history of pastors who served Magnolia Baptist does include a Rev. Littleton, so it is easy to presume that First Baptist later developed into the Magnolia Baptist. And when the church built in the 1980’s it presumably took the old cornerstone with it.

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Both the Magnolia Baptist and the Holy Temple Church are African American congregations. A quick look through the history of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows indicates that it was not a multi-cultural organization. According to Wikipedia, it removed its whites only clause from its constitution in 1971. And it is unclear if there is any relationship to the current First Baptist. That congregation is well established and has a major facility on Main Street in downtown Belton.

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So this building and its two cornerstones point to a significant history of movement and change. But they only offer hints. It may take significant digging to get the entire story.

Holy Temple Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith, 519 South Pearl Street, Belton, Texas 76513

Church Design & Construction