More than fifty years ago, December 15, 1955 to be exact, a small band of believers joined together to organize a church in Garland, Texas. That day the number of charter members present was 27, with children rounding up the total number present to 34. The church met in the Union Hall on 5th Street, and chose the church's name to be New Liberty Missionary Baptist Church.
In January of 1956, New Liberty purchased a one story building on a single lot on Centerville Road, from a church that had previously disbanded. The building was built with redwood, and looked to some like a barn or a cotton gin. This original building still exists today in the center of our church plant; and houses part of the nursery. In 1957, a loan was secured to add a second story to the existing structure. This is the area directly above the nursery, and houses our Children's Ministry area. Back in 1957, the upstairs portion of the building was the sanctuary, with classrooms being housed on the bottom floor. The area surrounding the church was a rural area, with very few buildings or residences within a two-mile radius of the church. Centerville Road was a narrow two-lane road.
New Liberty's pastorate has not changed hands many times in its history. Doyle Baker served as pastor from December of 1955 until July of 1957 (for $25 dollars a week). Bill Nalls was pastor from July of 1957 to April of 1958. Ken Ashlock was asked to speak in view of a call on July the 9th of 1958, and he did so on Saturday, July the 12th. New Liberty voted to Call Bro. Ken as pastor on July the 15th at a salary of $40.00 a week. Bro. Ken and his wife Linda's first Sunday with New Liberty was August the 17th of 1958.
New Liberty began its first visitation program in 1958 and published its first edition of its church bulletin, "The Silent Visitor," on November the 30th of 1958. In business meeting that year, it was discussed that the entire congregation should have Polio shots. At the time, the church was baptizing new members in Spring Creek.
1959 held many "firsts" for New Liberty, our first Men's Brotherhood meetings and Ladies Auxiliary meetings were organized in March, and our first Vacation Bible School was in June of that year. In February of 1959, the church began a weekly radio broadcast on KTER, a station out of Terrell.
The church purchased additional property in 1959, and dedicated a new sanctuary on Easter Sunday of 1960.
The church purchased its first parsonage at 109 West Wanda in Garland in 1961. The down payment of $1,000 was borrowed from Loyd and Garnet Turner and paid back in five installments. That same year, the church hired its first paid nursery worker.
In 1962 the church began a Girl's Auxiliary, Boy's Brotherhood and started a church library. 1962 was also the year that New Liberty began its relationship with Bogg Springs. That year 2 girls, 3 boys and sponsors attended Bogg Springs for one of its first Youth Camps.
1964 was the first year that all city utilities were provided to the church. Two more lots were purchased in 1965 (for $4,800), and the Men's Brotherhood bought the church its first bus. That same year New Liberty secured a loan for $9,500, on a twelve-year term, to make improvements and additions to the education building. That same year, New Liberty voted to give ten percent of General Fund offerings to missions.
In 1966 New Liberty ordained three new deacons, Clell Driskell, Ray Seymore and Les Wardlaw. Additional rooms were added to the parsonage, and the church purchased additional property on Centerville Road for $5,000.
December of 1967 was a momentous time for New Liberty. The church family had continued to outgrow its sanctuary, and so, December the 10th, after Sunday Morning church, the church family gathered in the winter cold to break ground for what is our current sanctuary. The church family thought that the groundbreaking ceremony was to be the most historical happening of the day. However, halfway through the evening service, the day turned even more surprising. New Liberty's Ambassador Quartet (James Morris, Jerry Morris, Ray Seymore and Clell Driskell) had just finished singing in the service, which had caused James Morris to have a coughing spell, so he decided to step outside for a bit. Once outside two robbers in ski masks accosted him at gunpoint. They marched Bro. James back into the church. One gunman held Bro. James hostage while the other gunman had proceeded to the front of the sanctuary to inform Bro. Ken that they wanted "the morning's take".
New Liberty did not have a center aisle in this sanctuary. One gunman and Bro. James were at the back of one aisle, while Bro. Ken and the other robber walked toward the back of the church (to the treasurer's office) on the other aisle. As Bro. Ken and the other robber neared the back of the sanctuary; the gunman lowered his pistol from Bro. James neck for just a moment. At that moment, one of the men of the church that was sitting closest to the gunman (Hugh English), jumped up and tackled the robber. Pandemonium broke loose in the church as the pistol was fired several times. People took cover in every nook and cranny in the church building. The robbers were subdued, and eventually served prison time for the armed robbery of the church. New Liberty had great press that day in the papers. The smiling faces of a young church breaking ground for a new building, were right beside the mug shots of the robbers who tried to take the morning's offering (which by the way, had already been taken to the bank).
Back to church History.
Our current sanctuary was dedicated in November of 1968. Average attendance for Sunday School was 207. We added two additional deacons that same year, Jim Smith and James Morris. In 1969, New Liberty added two more deacons, Loyd Chaffin and Wayland Harris.
The church sold its parsonage on West Wanda in 1970 (for $18,000) and moved Bro. Ken and his family to 1818 Bardfield. That same year, mission offerings were increased to fifteen percent of regular offerings. Also in 1970, the church agreed to hire a part-time secretary, at a salary of $2.00 per hour. 1970 was also the first year that the choir began wearing robes.
New Liberty began its music library in 1971, and continued to purchase more property around the church plant, for approximately $15,000.
In 1972, the church added its first additional staff person. Leland Davis was called to be the church's first Minister of Music and Youth. Leland served at New Liberty until February of 1974. The Tape Ministry began in 1972 and Children's Chapel began in December of 1973. The Children's Chapel first director was Wanda Doak.
Ron Gray was called in April of 1974 to serve full-time as Director of Music, Visitation and Youth. In August of 1975, Ron resigned his full-time position with the church, but continued to serve as Music Director on a part-time basis. Ron served as Music Director until September of 1977.
In 1974, New Liberty purchased additional property, and completed new adult Sunday School Classrooms, next to the Children's department upstairs, in the north-central part of the building. The church borrowed $35,000 to complete the project.
Bryant Debord served as Assistant to the Pastor from January of 1975 until July of 1978.
In 1975 and 1976, additional property was purchased, including lots on Candlewood Drive, at a cost of $4,000. 1975 was also the year that we began designating the Sunday before Christmas as a Mission offering.
In recognition of his nineteen years as pastor, New Liberty deeded over the parsonage on 1818 Bardfield to Bro. Ken and Ms. Linda in May of 1977.
On September the 7th of that same year (1977), New Liberty invited Brad Rountree to come in view of a call as Minister of Music. Brad began his ministry with New Liberty on October the 12th on a part-time basis until he finished his studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological.
Bob Lindsay served as Assistant to the Pastor from October of 1978 until March of 1980.
In September of 1979, Donald Dennis was called to be Youth Minister on a part-time basis. The choir room and classroom areas on the south-central part of the building were built in 1979 also.
Both Brad and Donald began working fulltime at New Liberty in June of 1980.
Byron Tilton served as Assistant to the Pastor from June of 1981 until May of 1985.
New Liberty has its first "evening" Vacation Bible School in June of 1981.
In 1982, New Liberty built the multi-purpose facility, formally named "Turner Activities Building" on Candlewood, in honor of the lives of service of Loyd and Garnet Turner. The building is more commonly referred to as "Turner Hall". The upstairs classroom areas in Turner Hall were finished in 1985. That same year, Garnet Turner resigned as teacher of the Senior Class after serving for twenty-seven years.
New Liberty began a second Sunday Morning service, at 8:30 in the morning, in September of 1986. The church family combined its worship back to one service in 2003.
In 1988, in honor of Bro. Ken and Ms. Linda's 30th anniversary with the church, they were given a love offering of $500 for each year of Bro. Ken's pastorate with the church.
The sanctuary was remodeled in 1989. This project was done in memory of Bro. Loyd Turner.
In April of 1990, New Liberty purchased the house and lot at 417 Candlewood for $60,000. For a time, the structure was used as a Singles Annex and for additional classroom space. The house was ultimately torn down for additional parking space.
In August of 1990, New Liberty became the sponsoring church for the Mexican Baptist Institute of McAllen.
New Liberty's first Christian Education Director, Paul Cleveland Jr. served from May of 1994 to January of 2003.
In 1995, New Liberty voted to dedicate The Parlor (site of the 1960 sanctuary, currently the choir suite) in memory of Elaine Carner, our last charter member.
Kevin Edney began working part time in 1998 as Director of Children's Ministry. He began his full time in that position starting in August of 2000. When Donald Dennis accepted a pastorate in Magnolia, Arkansas in August of 2001, Kevin worked with the Student Ministry as well until January of 2002.
In November of 1999, Nona Hooks became the church's financial secretary. Nona replaced Joan Felton, who had served the church for many years.
In January of 2001, Tammy Reese came to work as the church's secretary. She replaced Betty Hawkins, who had served in that capacity for more than 23 years.
In August of 2002, our beloved pastor's wife, Ms. Linda, passed away. Ms. Linda came to New Liberty as an 18 year old young lady. The church watched as she raised her family and faithfully supported her husband. Ms. Linda fought a miraculous battle against brain cancer since 1983. More than 1,300 people attended the worship service celebrating her life. Ms. Linda embodied the heart and soul of New Liberty for forty-four years. Because of her love for children's literature, the church library is named in her honor.
The building formally known as the Jones-Blair Paint Building, was purchased by New Liberty in 2002, and is called "The Annex". The Annex houses several classrooms and a kitchen facility.
Mark and Marla Kuykendall came to New Liberty in April of 2002. Mark served as our Youth Pastor and Marla served as Director of Children's Ministries until July of 2007. Under Marla's direction, our children's evening worship service, "Kidstuff", began in 2004.
Keith Gorman's work with New Liberty spanned many several and different positions. He began volunteering with the student ministry in 2002. While in seminary he worked in Maintenance for the church from 2007-2009, which included his roles as interim student director from June 2007 to February of 2008 and his internship from May of 2008 to December of 2009.
Mark Clements joined the staff of New Liberty as Associate Pastor in February of 2008.
In the Fall of 2009, New Liberty started its AWANA ministry for children. Byron and Sharon Tilton were added to the staff as Children's Ministry Directors in April of 2010.
In March of 2010, the church's financial secretary, Nona Hooks, retired and was replaced by Debbie Ainsworth. Raymond Johnson began serving as the church's custodian in May of 2010.
In 2011, New Liberty began a major renovation to the central portion of the building. A new entrance, welcome center, grand hall and library were built, church offices were relocated and an elevator was installed. Numerous improvements were made throughout the church campus.
Also in 2011, Maggie Crawford was added as the Nursery Ministry Director and Jason Benningfield and Kyle Alonso were added to the staff as interns in Student Ministry. Both Jason and Kyle are students at Dallas Theological.
New Liberty continues to write its legacy every day. We acknowledge the sacrifices made by the church's members in the early years, and know that today we stand on the shoulders of great men and women from New Liberty's past. We are confident that our greatest days are in our future, as New Liberty"s church family desires for God to be pleased with the church who worships in this place. To God be the Glory, great things He has done.