1949 Eagle Article

Historical Sketch of Business Men’s Bible Class

by John A. Moore (Feb. 1949 in the Eagle)

As a charter member of the Business Men’s Bible Class of the First Baptist Church of Bryan, I have been requested by the Eagle to submit a review of our history as I may recall it.

February 9, 1949 will mark the 30th anniversary of the organization of the Business Men’s Bible Class of First Baptist church of Bryan for it was on Sunday morning, February 9, 1919, that about fourteen or fifteen men met at the request of the pastor in a little ante room in the red brick building which stood on the same site as the present church building.

Dr. Held Promoter

Dr. John A. Held was the pastor of our church and it was he who recognized the need and possibilities of a man’s class working together to reach many who other wise might never have the privilege of hearing “the word of truth rightly divided.” He called on me to assist him in his noble undertaking and I shall always feel grateful for the blessings I received in working with him.

Many times I recall when we would labor far into the night he would bring me home in his car and as we would stop in front of my home, the pastor would say “Brother Moore, let us pray.”

Do Not Proselyte

We soon gathered together a group of men who were eager to contribute in a great way to the efforts needed

After the organization the class formulated a plan for development and in so doing we went to the City Hall and the Court House and procured the tax roll of all the male tax payers of Bryan and vicinity. We used the phone directory also. After compiling this list we submitted it to all the Sunday School Superintendents of Bryan asking each one to check off the list the name of any man who was enrolled in his Sunday School.

In that way we made sure we would not disturb or proselyte and one. Following this we tried to contact every mean whose name remained on the list, by a visit, a phone call or by mail.

Charter Members

I shall attempt at this time to recall the names of the charter members and I trust I shall not overlook anyone. They were as follows: D. Paul Dansby, Horace Dansby, Sr., E. B. Elliott, R. R. Ellis, J. F. Griffin, W. M. Griffin, P. H. Hamilton, Edgar Jones, W. C. Richti, John A. Moore, George F. Singletary, M. E. Wallace, A. S. Ware, H. H. Williamson, and of course the pastor.

Dr. Held was the first teacher. Dr. Held thought a location on Main Street would afford us a broader field of contact so he asked us to look into the probabilities

I went to see Mr. and Mrs. Fairman who were at that time the owners of the three theatres in Bryan and they were most magnamous in offering us our choice of any one of the three places including in their generous offer the utilities and all other facilities. We decided on the Queen Theater as our meeting place and Mr. and Mrs. Fairman gave us a key to the building in order that we have no delay or inconvenience on Sunday mornings. Let us pause here to pay tribute to our dear Methodist friends Mr. and Mrs. W. R. Fairman who were always cooperative in religious work in Bryan.

Hear Leading Laymen

It was our custom to invite eminent laymen throughout the state to bring us a message from time to time, requesting that their message be of a spiritual nature only. Among those accepting our invitations were Gov. Pat M. Neff who had been president of the Texas State Convention.

Gov. Neff was known as the “silver-tonged orator of Texas;” also Judge O. S. Lattimore, Judge of the Supreme court of Texas and who was a bible teacher of the University Class of the Baptist Church in Austin; also M. H. Wolf of Dallas who too had been a president of the State Baptist Convention and who was outstanding in religious work of Texas and who had traveled extensively in behalf of religious moves, including a tour of the Holy Land.

Local Men Speak

Our then beloved Dr. W. B. Bizzell, president of A&M College, and a Bible student and writer of Bible lore, was always glad to accept any invitation to speak to us always inspiring the class to greater work. Many of our local laymen responded to our needs and appeared before the class, among these Judge W. C. Davis, Stuart Barron, and others.

How vividly we recall Robt. Jolly, superintendent of the Memorial Hospital in Houston and who for many years was song leader for the State Baptist Convention when he came accompanied by his sister, bringing us that wonderful hymn “When They Ring Those Golden Bells”. It was the first time it had been rendered in Bryan. I am sure many of the old members remember the spiritual fervor it produced.

Class had Quartet

Our class also had a local male quartet which contributed in a large way to our program every Sunday morning.

The old Queen theatre was the scene of many stirring meetings. We engaged in no frivolities during the lesson hour; we had no applauding, no discussion, of secular affairs. We were banned together for the sole purpose of reaching and saving the lost, remembering the words of our Savior “Any ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”. I’ve seen grown men weep and ask “What must I do to be saved?.

On one occasion when a member returned to the class after a absence of several months due to a broken leg, he asked to speak so he might tell the men that a broken leg was terrible but not near so bad as to have to miss the Bible class.

After one of our meetings one Sunday when I had led the class, Frank Patranella came to me and asked where he could get a Bible like mine. The next day I bought one and presented it to him, and many times during the following years when I would enter his barber shop he would tell me how much that Bible had meant.

Dr. Held Great Teacher

Dr. Held was a great preacher, but his greatest forte was teaching. He would have done honor to any large theological school. He was a deep theologian and at any time he was ever ready to help interpret the scripture to any who were seeking the truth.

Due to his pastoral duties Dr. Held had to resign as teacher after about four years and I was elected as his successor. During the recent Christmas holidays Dr. Held visited in my home and we found great joy in recounting our early class activities. He reminded me that while in the Queen Theatre we reached an enrollment of 350 members.

Traffic is Blocked

In fact we crowded the aisles and out on the sidewalks so regularly that the police had us to move so as not to “block the traffic”. So we then moved to the Carnegie Library, but were limited in space and comfort needed.

Rising to the occasion our faithful president Marvin Wallace went to the hall early on cold mornings carrying wood and the kindling and had a big fire, making ready a warm meeting place for the men. May his memory be blessed for his loyalty and service to the Business Men’s Bible Class.

Move from Main Street

As I record our class movements I regret to say that Bro. Day who succeeded Dr. Held as pastor, was not pleased with the class being located on Main Street and it was his wish that we return to the church building because, as he expressed it, :the Baptists would get full credit for the work”. I believed then and I believe now that we made a mistake for it is my opinion that we should feed men spiritually and let each one decide for himself to which church he prefers to belong. I resigned as teacher at that time after having served for several years. The purpose of a teacher as I see it is to carry out Christ’s work

PROGRAM

Opening by Class President

Two Hymns Led By Chorister

Prayer Teacher

Special Music By

Lesson Teacher

Benediction