First Baptist Church, Palestine
The church was dedicated December 12, 1912. The cost of building and lot was $45,000.00, not including annex of more recent date. Rev. Mr. Gillon, being called to a church in Mississippi in 1913, accepted. Rev. D. B. Clapp, pastor of Vernon, came to Palestine in the winter of 1913. In the fall of 1914 organized, graded work in the Sunday School began. C. R. Gillispie was re-elected Superintendent of the Sunday School, continuing to serve till 1922. Study courses for all ages and classes have been a part of the church activities from that day to the present. Ministers and workers for the Gospel given to the world by the church since 1914 are: Revs. J. C. Cohen, Chas. Streetman, Chas. Simpson, Tilson Maynard, Oscar Smith, Mrs. Ethel Hudson Williams, Miss Olive Pounds, Mrs. Addie Dye. A touching incident occurred when Rev. "Johnny" Cohen was ordained. His wife, after the ordination, came forward, was accepted to membership and baptised by her husband, becoming the first candidate for baptism, to be immersed by him. Will Thresto was another young preacher to be baptised in the Baptist Church.
In war times a dramatic incident occurred. The Red Cross announced a street dance for a certain night. Rev. Mr. Clapp the Sunday before announced same, earnestly protesting against it and urging his members to stay away, stating, "This is bringing shame on the blood of Christ; as a church, we cannot countenance it." The Baptists, generally, thought little about their pastor's attitude towards the dance—further than to resolve to "stay at home." What then was their amazement -to learn one summer afternoon at 6 p. m. that their pastor was to be "tried for treason" at 8 p. m.! Long before eight o'clock the Baptists began coming into that Court room till they filled it to overflowing.. It was packed with indignant men and women—the last named in tears—the men, for once, doing the talking. One devoted brother stated with stammering tongue, but fiery eye, "I have several thousand dollars in Royall's Bank and every cent is at Clapp's disposal." Others followed—all eloquent with the earnestness of righteous indignation. Then some one said, "Let us pray," and the Court House, the scene of such dramatic happenings from time to time, witnessed one more outpouring of grief and supplication that, from the numbers involved, surely was never surpassed by any occurence in any Court House. The scene reached its climax when the pastor was brought in. No Baptist—only a few of his accusers accompanied the prisoner. No greeting passed between pastor and flock, but the electric flash of tender recognition the accused man gave his friends "broke their hearts." For some unknown reason, the trial which followed was conducted behind closed doors. The sheriff, Dick Guinn, had promised to notify the crowd but their patience was taxed to the limit before the promise was redeemed." Nine-ten-eleven-twelve-one o'clock Sunday morning passed. No verdict—two o'clock.
Between two and three o'clock a. m. Sunday, Mr. Guinn came to the door and said: "The verdict has been rendered, Not Guilty!"
There was no hand clapping. By the time all got home, it was time to cook breakfast and get ready for Sunday School and Church. The first one at the church was the pastor. Quietly, he gave out the message of God, not referring to the night in any way, the incident was closed.