The former Rural Shade Baptist Church sanctuary, located at 3304 CR 2274, was razed Monday to make way for a new multipurpose building. The old church – the fourth shrine used by worshipers in the Tarkington area since the church was established over 150 years ago – was commissioned in 1962 and replaced by a new shrine in 2005.
For the past few years, before being condemned due to structural problems, the building had served as a food storage facility for the church’s community food bank.
Some of the deacons and church members watched the demolition on Monday. Deacon Charlie Rice said the first wedding held in the old building was Ronnie Corn and his wife, Betty Ellisor Corn. The latest was the wedding of Rice’s niece, Faith, and her husband, Sonny Mills.
When the Old Shrine was built in 1962, it was the first to include the modern necessity of central air conditioning and heating.
Deacon Archie Guillory, who chairs the church’s building and grounds committee, said the new multipurpose building is part of a three-phase plan that will also include a second building for the food bank and headquarters for the Helping Hands committee, and a third for a kitchen.
The new multi-purpose center will measure 50 x 100 feet with 20-foot eave heights so it can be used as an indoor basketball court. It can also be used to hold wedding receptions and other events. The new building will be funded by donations to the church.
For the demolition, the church paid $1 to Bryan Neal of Cleveland, who essentially donated his time and equipment.
In October 2021, the church received an official historical marker from the Liberty County Historical Commission. The marker’s dedication was delayed for a year due to COVID.
The history of Shade Rural Baptist Church dates back to 1870, when a small group of residents gathered in a brushwood arbor to worship. In July 1878, the founders of the church obtained land for the purpose of erecting a church to serve as a sanctuary and meeting place for the Masonic lodge. In 1907, the second sanctuary of the Rural Shadow Baptist Church was completed and the old building was granted to the trustees of Oakdale High School. A third church was erected in 1938.
Currently the church has no pastor and is served by a visiting pastor until a pastor can be appointed.