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Fort Worth’s Historic Churches

Our Walking Tour of Fort Worth Church History:

This tour recounts the history of several downtown congregations and we try to get into 2 or 3 of the buildings on each trip. Past tours have included St Patrick’s Cathedral, 1st Christian Church, Allen Chapel AME Church, Saint Andrew’s Episcopal, First Methodist, and Broadway Baptist.

Founding Dates of of downtown churches:

  • 1855 – First Christian Church, Disciples of Christ
  • 1860 – Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church
  • 1867 – First Baptist Church
  • 1874 – 4th Street Methodist Episcopal Church (today’s First Methodist)
  • 1875 – Mount Gilead Baptist Church
  • 1876 – Saint Patrick’s Cathedral
  • 1908 – Temple Beth-El

Religion first came to Fort Worth in the early 1850s as Methodist circuit riders visited the area. Interestingly, most churches began in homes or small commercial buildings, but as they grew many of them met in the County Courthouse or Masonic Hall until they were able to raise funds for their own building, including the Episcopals, Baptists & Christians. Beth-El Congregation originally met in the Knights of Pythias Hall.

Baptist firebrand J Frank Norris led the congregation from 1910 until his death in 1952. Norris, known as the father of Baptist Fundamentalism famously battled Fort Worth Mayor H.C. Meacham from the pulpit and Baylor University over the teaching of evolution. He also famously was tried for arson (burning the church & parsonage) and perjury (writing anonymous notes to himself from the alleged arsonist), and acquitted of all charges. Oh, and he murdered a man named D. E. Chipps in the church office (acquitted again). In 1935 he accepted a position as Pastor at Temple Baptist Church in Detroit in addition to his Fort Worth position. Norris led a combined congregation of over 26,000 and commuted by plane between the two locations for 16 years.

There are some pretty unbelievable stories about our beloved local congregations in the history books. We share as many of them as we can cram into 2 hours each time we do the church tour.