Baptists have been a part of the Texas landscape since about 1837 when Zachariah Nehemiah Morrell helped establish one of the first Baptist churches at Washington-on-the-Brazos. Filled with a passion to see the Gospel of Jesus Christ spread across the "spiritual wilderness" that was Texas, Morrell worked tirelessly so that every Texan could "rejoice and blossom as the rose."
In 1950, fired by that same passion, Reverend D.H. Holley, a minister who possessed a unique gift for locating areas where the ministry of a church was needed, went in search of such a location. He found what he was looking for in the southwest quadrant of Irving. And so, on March 5, 1950, Reverend Holley and five other Baptist ministers (R.L. Bacon, H.E. Fowler, T.J. Brisco, W.M. Biggs and W.H. Burkett), along with twenty-six lay people, met in a hall on Etain Road, about two and a half blocks south of Shady Grove Road.
During this historic meeting, ten people (Reverend and Mrs. D.H. Holley, Lou Dell Holley, Mr. And Mrs. A.M. Cooper, Mr. And Mrs. A.M. Rucker, Mrs. O.W. Smith, and Mr. And Mrs. T.E. Dickson) gave their testimonies of how they became Christians and were approved as charter members of this new church. At a later date, nine more gave testimonies and were also approved as charter members.
Several major decisions faced this small band of church planters. First they decided that the church would be a New Testament Missionary Baptist church. Then they decided to affiliate with the Southern Baptist Convention, the Baptist General Convention of Texas, and the Dallas Baptist Association. With these affiliations, the little band became the 129th Baptist church in Dallas County. Every church needs a leader, and this one was no exception; so Reverend Holley was called as the first pastor.
With those decisions out of the way, the fledgling church needed a name. Some suggested the name Holley View since it had been Reverend Holley's vision that had led to its formation. However, Mrs. Holley reminded the group of the oak trees surrounding the estate and suggested the name Oak View. And so, by unanimous approval, Oak View Baptist Church was born. In true Baptist fashion, before adjourning, Rev. Smith and Rev. Biggs spoke on tithing and cooperation, and prayer closed the first meeting. In subsequent business meetings, the members elected trustees, deacons, and church officers to serve in the church, and on March 12, 1950, the church approved the present location of Story Road as the new home for Oak View Baptist Church.
In the months that followed, the church set up a building fund, purchased materials needed for the new buildings, created a church budget, and developed a mission plan. In March of 1951, Oak View celebrated its first anniversary as a church in the new building, a building that continues to serve the church today. By September of 1952, Oak View was making plans for an additional building to be used as an auditorium, a building that serves the church now as the children's educational building. Then, to meet continued growth demands, fellowship hall was built and today occupies the northeast corner of the property.
Growth continued, and in January 1956 there was a special groundbreaking ceremony for a new auditorium. Ten members of the church participated in plowing the first earth at this ceremony: Rev. D. H. Holley, L. E. Rucker, R. W. Strandridge, W. W. Carroll, W. E. Ender, J. H. Darrell, Jr., E. W. Melton, R. G. Lemon, W. T. Hamilton, and O. V. Smith. The auditorium was completed by June 1956, and the dedication service was held on June 24, 1956. Rev. Holley led the congregation in saying vows of dedication, and Dr. T. C. Gardner, State Training Union Director of Dallas, Texas, gave the dedicatory message. And the church continued to grow.
The new decade brought new changes for Oak View. After serving the church faithfully for twelve years, Rev. Holley submitted his resignation as pastor on February 4, 1962 (to be effective March 4, 1962). The church selected V. E. Hunton, Jr. to act as moderator until a new pastor could be called.
The search did not take long. On April 15, 1962, Oak View called Rev. E. W. Campbell as pastor. He began his service on May 7, 1962, and in August of 1962 had the church incorporated as a non-profit religious organization. Becoming an incorporated entity meant that no church member could be held responsible for paying back a loan that the church owed. During 1963, plans were made for a new two-story educational unit that was completed in 1964. It was referred to as the preschool building and today houses the choir room and adult classrooms.
In January of 1966, Rev. Campbell resigned as pastor of Oak View, again creating a need for a moderator. The church elected Garth Hunt to serve in that position and in March called C. C. Risenhoover as interim pastor. Again, the search was short. In June 1966, the church called Reverend Wallace Philpot as pastor of the church.
At the beginning of 1967, under the leadership of Rev. Philpot, the members of Oak View accepted a “Faith in Action” program to aid the church in spiritual growth. This program established goals in the areas of evangelism, education, stewardship, Christian life, community and public relations. These initial goals were designed to be reached within the year and then updated yearly with new goals.
The seventies were a growth period for both Oak View and the city of Irving. To accommodate this development, the church began a growth campaign called “Here we Grow Again.” In September of 1971, as an added outreach program, the church approved a tape ministry program to record the worship services, with the tapes being made available to church members and anyone else who could benefit from them.
In 1979, two important events occurred. First, the church called Woody Schober as Minister of Music, a position he held for twenty-seven years. Secondly, in May, Oak View made plans for a “Together We Build” program. Oak View was expanding rapidly and had the potential for continued growth, so additional space was essential. To that end, the "Together We Build" program was launched with a banquet on May 23, 1979, with the goal of completing a multi-purpose building to serve current and future needs of various age groups and ministries.
With the arrival of the eighties, Oak View found herself in a great position to carry on the Lord's work in Irving. The “Together We Build” program was completed in June 1982, providing much needed worship and education space. With the average attendance hovering around three hundred in the early eighties, Oak View was indeed touching the lives of many people, and as Irving grew, so did Oak View. In October 1986, the church found an additional use for the new space and another way to reach people through a Wednesday night meal. By the late eighties, average attendance was around four hundred, and in September 1988, annual Sunday School attendance topped 400 for the first time.
But the church's mission wasn't just to reach the people of Irving. The Great Commission was to reach the world as well. In response to this command, all throughout the decade, the church gave to world missions with a portion of the offering going to support foreign missions, home missions, state missions and associational missions. Each year the total dollar amount given by the church increased. In response to the call of local missions, in March 1988, Oak View voted to sponsor Faithway Baptist Church, which was located on Oakdale Road in Irving.
Two other significant events in the life of the church occurred near the end of the eighties. On October 11, 1987, Jim Gerlach was ordained to the gospel ministry. He would later serve the church as Youth Minister, Associate Pastor, and finally Senior Pastor. And in June 1989, Marge Schroeder retired as church secretary after twenty-three years on the job.
The nineties brought new challenges, and Oak View was ready. In July 1992, the church opened its facilities to a small Korean church to help spread the Word to non-English-speaking communities. Also, a new project, the Jerusalem Project, was proposed. The goal of this project was to reach people within a mile radius of the church who were not being reached by traditional churches, and in 1994, various missions were established in local apartment complexes and mobile home parks. Oak View also ministered to the physical needs of Irving, donating food, money, and countless volunteer hours to the Baptist Benevolent Ministries of Irving. On March 13, 1996, in an effort to increase the efficiency of the BBMOI, the church joined with several other Irving Baptist churches to buy a building in downtown Irving to house the program, ultimately freeing more money to benefit the people of Irving.
In 1997, Oak View once again turned her attention to the subject of growth. We were quickly out-growing the old auditorium, so on February 12, Dr. Wayne Allen led O.V.B.C. in beginning a capitol fund program for a new worship center. The goal was to have funds in hand before beginning to build. In the interim, to better accommodate the members, two worship services and two Sunday Schools were started on February 26, 1997. Later, on April 8, 1998, a building committee consisting of Jack Richardson, Randy Randle, John North, Bob Kemp, Doug French, Earl Jordan, and Beth Hindman was recommended. This committee was to make some very important decisions concerning construction of the new auditorium. One of the first decisions was to move fellowship hall to the back of the property. A verbal agreement turned into an official loan not to exceed one million dollars on the new auditorium. Building, however, would not begin for another two years.
During this time, Oak View also accepted title to Westwood Park Baptist Church (now called Son Rise) at 625 S. Briery Road and started Kirkwood Mission on February 15, 1998, to help the people of south Irving. Not to be left behind, even in the field of technology, Oak View began its own web page on December 9, 1998.
The new millennium saw Oak View still moving forward. On January 12, 2000, the church signed over the property on Briery Road to Son Rise Baptist Church. The fledgling church of a few short years ago had come into its own.
February 6, 2000 saw the fruition of a plan begun in 1997. Randy Randle climbed aboard a bulldozer for a groundbreaking ceremony on the exact spot where fellowship hall once stood. The members of Oak View applauded his every move. Oak View's dream of a new auditorium was about to become reality. The new auditorium was dedicated April 8, 2001, and through diligent contributions to the building fund by the members of Oak View, the debt was retired in 2006.
Our last ten years have witnessed significant retirements from our staff: Reverend Wallace Philpot, Senior Pastor, retired in 2003 with thirty-eight years of service. Woody Schober, Minister of Music, retired in 2006 with twenty-seven years of service. Nancy Conner, pianist, retired in 2006 with thirty-two years of service. These retirements and the growing needs of the church brought about many changes in the church staff. In February 2005, after serving the church for twenty-two years, first as Youth Minister and then as Assistant Pastor, Dr. Jim Gerlach was called as Senior Pastor. In 2007, Erin Tooley was called as the church's first Preschool /Children’s Minister, and Richard Caldwell was called as Student Minister. Ron Kurtz was called to serve as Associate Pastor in January 2008. John Cornish was called in April 2009 and now officially serves as the Minister of Worship & Communications. Following the resignation of Erin Tooley, Judith Coley was called in October 2009 as the Preschool/Children’s Minister.
Oak View has continued her commitment to the Great Commission, reaching out with mission service locally, nationally, and internationally. Despite a downturn in the economy, the mission offering taken the first week of each December has remained a great time of giving for Oak View members. In December 2009, members faithfully gave over $78,000. On the local level, members continue to reach out to Irving with Serving Irving (serving meals on Thanksgiving Day) and the Fall Festival, touching over 5,000 lives. Truly Oak View is fulfilling its mission to introduce people to the life-changing love of Christ, baptizing over 60 people in 2009.
Recognizing that ministering to the need of others requires dedicated servants, the church added to its deacon body. In 2008, five new deacons were ordained: Robert Myers, Hairl Pasley, Roger Rohrs, and Brett Tooley. In 2009, four more deacons were ordained: Don George, Nick Kendall, Brian Cahill and Clyde Halley. They joined deacons Darrel Story, Lowell Smith, Coy Cotton, John North, Bill Harrison, Brian Hindman, Gene Nash, Bobby Woodard and Don Brown. Together this group of dedicated men faithfully serves the church, striving always to meet the needs of both the congregation and the community.
2009 brought about program changes as well. Sunday School took on a new name, Bible Fellowship, and HomeGroups were established as an extension of Bible Fellowship, as an outreach to those unable to attend a Sunday morning Bible study, and as another way to connect people to each other and to the life changing love of Christ. The HomeGroups meet twice a month on Sunday evenings with a prescribed study/discussion time. Topics are current and applicable to daily living, and snacks/meals add to this exciting time for 100+ attendees. As a result, Bible Fellowship attendance has topped 500 and church membership is over 1,800 individuals.
Just as Zachariah Morrell worked to spread the Gospel to the "spiritual wilderness" of Texas, Oak View has continued these past sixty years to make sure that people could "rejoice and blossom as the rose." With God's blessing, Oak View Baptist Church will continue to serve our broader community here and around the world for years to come.