Robertson Avenue Baptist Church celebrates 60 years
By BRITTANY FHOLER
Robertson Avenue Baptist Church celebrates its 60th anniversary on Friday.
The church first opened its doors and held its first service 60 years ago on November 20, 1960, led by R.G. Whitehead, the pastor of First Baptist Church of Copperas Cove.
Robertson Avenue Baptist Church started as a mission of the First Baptist Church. In February 1960, the Men’s Brotherhood at First Baptist Church of Copperas Cove came up with the idea and presented their plan to the church. The church voted to build and support the mission and elected a committee with Chairman Delbert Mills who reported back with the details regarding where the church could build this mission- at the corner of Robertson Avenue.
First Baptist Church voted on July 17, 1960 to build a mission for $12,448.70 on this site and in August 1960 broke ground for the new mission church.
Elton Lawson was called as the first pastor for the church in late October 1960. In its first year, the church had 67 new members and 31 baptisms, according to the church website. The church was finally incorporated as Robertson Avenue Baptist Church on July 1, 1962.
New pastor, old ties
to the church
Recently, Senior Pastor Norm Melton resigned due to health issues and the church hired a new pastor, Joshua Morrison.
Morrison has his own special connection to the church, going back 26 years, he said.
In addition to being licensed to minister through the church, Morrison also found salvation through the church.
“I met Jesus here in 1994 in the parking lot out in front of our church, and I was a young man looking for redemption,” Morrison said. “I’d begun to feel the weight of my sin and the guilt had come to me. I was 19 years old, and I pulled into a parking lot that I’d never really paid attention to before and I asked God ‘Where do you want me to go to church at?’ and I happened to look up, and I was in this church parking lot.”
Morrison said he went in and spoke with the pastor at the time, who took him under his wing and ended up leading him to Jesus Christ. With this pastor, Morrison learned about the ministry and was even given the opportunity to guest preach. He said his first ever sermon was about six minutes long.
Morrison attended Howard Payne University for his undergraduate and master’s degrees and went on to become ordained at the Olan Baptist Church in Hamilton. He also served as the pastor at Northside Baptist Church in Lampasas before ending up at Robertson Avenue Baptist Church.
Morrison came back to Copperas Cove not to pastor the church, but to work for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in Gatesville while pastoring at the church in Hamilton. He remained employed with TDCJ when he moved to the Northside Baptist Church in Lampasas. When he was hired as the senior pastor at Robertson Avenue Baptist, he was able to leave TDCJ and focus solely on ministry.
“I’ve been here now for approximately one month and I just can’t get over the fact of 26 years later of it being my start of ministry here,” Morrison said. “I was not only saved here, licensed to the ministry here, married here, baptized here but then to come back as the senior pastor, I found it really amazing in that.”
On pastoring a church that has existed for 60 years, Morrison said it is an honor and a challenge to fill the shoes of previous men but that he loves every minute.
“Our goal is to help keep that establishment going,” Morrison said. “Number one, we want to keep on Robertson Avenue’s tradition of evangelizing. Two, we want to meet a need in the community, and the problem is nowadays, it’s really hard to identify needs because most people are very private, one, and two, we have this pandemic going around called COVID-19.”
Morrison said the church has opened its doors but encourages masks and social distancing. He added that it is hard to be social with the Gospel during the time of COVID-19.
He said he felt the church needs to go back to the mission of evangelizing and interacting with people.
“We want to learn to love the unlovable, and believe me, we have a lot of very hard to love people in this world, and we want to learn to love them,” Morrison said. “We want to learn to put our biases, our prejudices aside and love them and introduce them to the Jesus who loved them so much He gave Himself on the cross for them. We’re very, very fortunate and very, very blessed to have this kind of church community and response that we’re having here.”
Robertson Avenue Baptist Church is currently donating turkeys to select families in need.
Morrison said the church approached local real estate and property management businesses to inquire about low income families who need some extra help this holiday season. The church mailed out letters to the families identified and if the families responded, they were selected for the turkey. The church has given away 12 to 15 turkeys already but would like to donate about 10 more, according to Morrison.
The church is also participating in Operation Christmas Child, where volunteers stuff shoeboxes full of items for children in need in other countries. This year marks the first year for the church to act as a dropoff location.
Other forms of evangelism include encouraging people to come to a service and hear the sermons.
Morrison said he likes to laugh and make people laugh during his sermons but that he and the church are “very serious about what we believe and very serious about bringing the gospel to those that haven’t heard the gospel before.”
“That is our number one mission, and we just can’t stand by and let that happen, especially when God has kept us here for the last 60 years,” Morrison said.
Morrison said the future of the church depends on evangelism as well.
“If we’re not evangelizing, then we’re not obeying, and if we’re not obeying, then we won’t be growing,” Morrison added.
The church has to come up with a way to keep the gospel in the forefront of people’s minds, he said.
“If we’re going to be around until the year 2080, we need to show that the gospel is still relevant,” Morrison said. “We can do that through loving. We can do that through meeting the needs of the community, and we can do that by making sure that we build those relationships in the community I think has been so neglected for so long.”
Morrison said he had some ideas of bringing the gospel to the community at events like Rabbit Fest, possibly.
“That’s our biggest vision in there is I want to see Robertson Avenue leave these walls and take church out of the box, if you will,” Morrison said. “Somewhere down the line, we thought that people should come to church when Jesus said to take church to them.”
Robertson Avenue Baptist Church is located at 305 E. Robertson Avenue. Services are held Sunday starting at 10:45 a.m. and Sunday Life Groups (Sunday School) is held starting at 9:30 a.m. The church also holds a bible study Sunday evening at 6 p.m. and Wednesday evening at 6:30 p.m. The church has Facebook page where Sunday services are streamed on Facebook Live as well.