Our History, Our Future
In the late 1950’s a new housing trend was happening across the United States as a move to the suburbs began.
As a result, many new churches were beginning. In the spring of 1956, a young seminary student, Harry Harris, began to see the need for a Baptist church in the new Wedgwood area. As Mr. Harris considered the obvious growth of the area, he began to sense God’s leadership in starting a church in Wedgwood. Harry knocked on doors in the area and asked if people would be interested in starting a church in the area. In just a few weeks, there were seven families that shared his vision.
In June 1956, the families were meeting for Sunday services and began to look for land for this new church. About the same time, the Tarrant Baptist Association also recognized the need for a Southern Baptist Church in the Wedgwood area, and made a down payment of $10,000 on a 31/3-acre site in the heart of the Wedgwood suburb. On July 9, 1956, with a membership of 15, the site became the home of the Wedgwood Baptist Mission, sponsored by Polytechnic Baptist Church. Sunday services were held at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) Price Hall, moved to a home, and then to a storefront in a nearby shopping center.
By 1958 Wedgwood Mission had a membership of 99 and Sunday school enrollment of 145. The first building was dedicated in April 1958 and could seat 240 people for worship. Growth was rapid. On May 8, 1960, the Wedgwood Mission was constituted as Wedgwood Baptist Church with 220 members, and 333 enrolled in Sunday School. Harry Harris was called to be the first pastor.
In September 1960, the church began an $115,000 bond drive to raise funds to build new education space and pay off the land purchase. In January 1963 Stanley Ray was called as the second pastor of the church, after the resignation of Harry Harris. The church continued to grow and by September 1968 there were 367 in Sunday school. A new building (worship center and education space) was completed in May 1969. In October 1970 the church called Dr. William Tolar as an interim pastor after the resignation of Stanley Ray. In February 1971 Leroy Fenton was called as the third pastor of Wedgwood Baptist Church. At this time, average attendance leveled off at about 300.
In August 1977 Pastor Fenton resigned to take a pastorate in another city. Bruce Corley, a Seminary professor, served as the interim pastor until Jack Harris was
called to be the fourth pastor of the church in January 1978. In May 1980, Wedgwood celebrated its 20th anniversary.
In May 1981, Jack Harris resigned as pastor. Several interim pastors served until Dr. Jerry Sutton was called to be the fifth pastor in December 1981.
During Dr. Sutton’s time at the church, the Lord did a mighty work. New staff positions were developed, the worship center was remodeled to accommodate a baptistery and choir seating on the front platform. A missions committee was formed and special funds were started for local missions. Three Sunday morning services were required and a closed circuit video system was installed to accommodate the Sunday night service. The Intercessory Prayer Ministry was launched, and Sunday school attendance reached a high of 953. Dr. Sutton resigned in the fall of 1986, to become the pastor at Two Rivers Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee.
The Church called Dr. Tommy Lea as interim pastor, until January 1987 when Dr. Cal Guy became interim pastor. During this time, plans were developed for Wedgwood to start a new mission church in Cityview. In adjusting to the start of the mission and the result of an 18-month interim, the church regrouped into one Sunday Worship service. Average attendance fell to about 430.
Dr. Al Meredith was called to be the sixth pastor for Wedgwood on September 27, 1987. A solid stable growth pattern was established and average Sunday School attendance reached 560 with over 600 attending Sunday Worship services. With a worship center that could seat only 450, two Sunday morning services were required. Under Dr. Meredith’s leadership, the church reorganized its education, youth, and music programs not only to grow, but also to develop and train leadership, respond to spiritual gifts, and to witness to the lost world around the community. With the influx of many large apartment complexes along the Hulen corridor and additional growth in southwest Fort Worth, Wedgwood Baptist Church had a great future ahead, hindered only by the lack of adequate facilities. In May 1989, the Church voted to embark on a building program to alleviate the space problem. In addition, four adjoining properties were acquired to provide parking space requirements.
Ground was broken for the current worship center on February 10, 1991, and the first services were held on June 28, 1992. The formal dedication service was on August 23, 1992, with many former pastors and church members attending and participating in the services.
Although seating in the new worship center was about 1200, by January 1994 the Church once again went to dual Sunday school/Worship services due to a lack of education space to accommodate the growth in membership the church was experiencing.
As the growth continued, it became necessary to further our building program to include more education classroom space. Thus plans were begun for the new Community Life Center. Groundbreaking for this structure was September 18, 1998.
One of the defining moments in the life of Wedgwood Baptist Church occurred on September 15, 1999.
Read more about the Wedgwood Church Shooting.
Construction on the Community Life Center was completed July 7, 2000, and the dedication service was a community-wide party on Labor Day weekend of 2000. The purpose of the Community Life Center was to have a place where the church could minister to the needs of the neighborhood and to provide education and fellowship space for church needs.
The Community Life Center (CLC) has a full-size basketball court/volleyball courts with a walking track around the top of it. Additional classrooms for Sunday School and various meetings are included as well as a craft room.
In 2004, Wedgwood adopted the Touching Eternity campaign, to improve and finish out the facilities on the Whitman and Walton property (including a new youth and preschool building) and to start at least one new work every two years over the next ten years. Construction began on the new youth and preschool facility in the fall of 2005 and was completed in October 2006.
The first new work project came in 2004 when Meadowridge Community Baptist Church approached Wedgwood with the proposal of helping re-establish and revive this church that had dwindled down to approximately 30 members. In August of the same year, Wedgwood sent Randal Lyle (former college minister) as senior pastor and over 130 members to Meadowridge. Meadowridge Church is ministering to approximately 250-300 on a weekly basis.
Touching Eternity funds have also been used to supplement our church planting effort with the Yagua people in Peru, and to revive Highland Baptist Church in Metairie, LA following the destruction of the area during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
In 2008 we agreed to take on the Abyssinian Project and develop a relationship in the area of Ethiopia. In 2009 we gave monthly support to Pastor Marlow McGuire, Kingdom Community Church who started this new church on the east side of Fort Worth. We also provided funds to help Bethel Baptist Church renovate their building.
In 2011 and 2012 our new works ministry began providing financial, prayer, mentorship as well as equipment and supplies to support the ministries of five new churches. These churches are: Vida Nueva, Hanmaum International Baptist Church, New Creations Bible Church, Iglesias Bautista Neuva Amistad and Crossways Korean Fellowship.
We partnered with The ACTS Church in the Rhondda Valley in Wales in 2012. The ACTS Church is located in Tylorstown, which is the poorest area in the whole United Kingdom. The ACTS Church is part of the Evangelical Alliance which works with churches in Wales to strengthen them and to partner them with churches from the United States.
Pastor Al Meredith retired on August 9, 2015 from serving as Wedgwood’s pastor after 28 years of faithful service. The church called the Southern Baptist Texas Convention Evangelism Director, Nathan Lorick, as our interim pastor, and our church went into a yearlong search for our next pastor.
The Pastor Search Committee recommended Dale Braswell as Wedgwood’s next Pastor in September 2016, and the church overwhelmingly affirmed it. October 2, 2016 Dale became our seventh pastor.
Our Mission Statement includes four key points.
First, we are to be a body of believers that come together for corporate worship. The term worship has been defined in many ways, but what we specifically mean is gathering together to worship corporately. We do stream our morning services and various other services, but Scripture calls us to gather in one place and not forsake the assembling.
Second, we have missional communities. This is not a new term for Sunday School. Although there is small group bible study and the dive to a deeper understanding and action of the focused Scripture for Sunday, missional communities are small groups that are exactly that, a small community tasked with reaching out and investing in our greater community both inside and outside of the walls of the church building.
Thirdly is our calling for every believer to be serving. Like community, there are many opportunities both inside and outside of the church building to serve the Lord. Without exception, every believer, from the youngest to the oldest, has a calling on their lives to serve one another.
Our forth area is based on multiplying disciples. As a church moving forward we want to focus on multiplication in three key areas.
Multiply Disciples: Jesus commands us in Matthew 28 to go and make disciples. Discipleship is not just the responsibility of the church as a whole. This command applies to each of us individually as well. WBC will seek to train each of our members in their faith and equip them to make disciples who will, in turn, make disciples (2 Timothy 2:2).
Multiply Leaders: Godly leadership is paramount in order for a church to grow. Therefore, WBC will seek to develop a leadership pipeline that helps to identify and train leaders who will help to expand the ministry of Wedgwood and the Kingdom of God.
Multiply Churches: The multiplication of disciples and leaders provides us with the opportunity to multiply churches. Just as we are called to make disciples who make disciples WBC will seek to plant churches who plant churches. This will result in a family of churches that reaches across our city, state, nation, and the world.