|A Chronological Look at the History of the Ben Franklin Community Church
According to historical documentation for the Ben Franklin area, the first church here “probably grew out of the union of the congregations of the Giles and Simmons Academies under the influence of Rev. T. B. Craig and a local minister, Rev. Dan Clower.” [ca 1854] It is assumed the first church was not an affiliation with any one particular denomination since many ‘influences’ brought about the church itself. The Texas Historical marker placed in front of the Ben Franklin United Methodist Church in the 60’s makes the statement “present building [BFUMC] was erected 800 yards from the old site.” With that in mind we move to the history of Ben Franklin Community Church.
The Fall of 2003 found several people in and around Ben Franklin desiring a change in the way of church. They wanted to have a church where they could meet the Lord without any denominational boundaries, hindrances or pre-conceived notions. These people loved the Lord and their desire to worship & praise God in their own fashion drove them forward. The ‘church’ isn’t a building. It is in fact the people. These people were the epitome of such since they literally had no building, only a deep united desire to experience God.
They began meeting in the front yard of Ben Franklin resident Terry Hoskison, under a blue tarp with borrowed chairs. As the sun rose the chairs would be moved into the shade & hand fans emerged from purses. But, just when they thought they couldn’t take the heat any longer…a cool breeze would waft across their faces as a way of God smiling on their efforts.
As winter loomed, this group of worshippers knew they couldn’t continue in their garden atmosphere, so the prayers of finding a location to house 30-40 people in Ben Franklin began. This task looked humanly hopeless—there aren’t very many locations in Ben Franklin from which to choose. BUT, God is not human and His ways are not our ways. The ONLY building available in Ben Franklin was the old Mercantile owned by Doc & Polly Holladay just across from the Post Office. When approached, there wasn’t a bit of hesitation on their part. Their answer was ‘sure we want to help’. If you don’t know it, this building is one of only 2 buildings left in what was the Ben Franklin ‘business district.’ In return for only a few days of helping clean out the building, the BFCC was able to have services in an actual piece of Ben Franklin history for over a year, and at no charge!
While there, the Lord began to show His plans for this congregation. They were able to save over $10,000 in their building fund which was ½ of the amount needed to move a building and set it in place. The other ½ was loaned to the congregation by way of simple signatures. The land on which the Church now sits was donated in full by Hays & Chris Stewart.
Membership Sunday in February 2004, had 29 people to join the BFCC in its mission. Since that time, 7 more have joined, bringing the ‘official membership’ roll to 36. This number may be small to some, but the BFCC doesn’t boast its numbers, their concern is more about how their members impact the community in which they live. But, if you are impressed with numbers, BFCC membership is over 1/3 of the Ben Franklin population!
In November 2004, the present building was moved from Trenton, TX to Ben Franklin, TX. The membership converged on the building with newfound energy and fervor. After some minor remodeling and major cleaning, the BFCC congregation had its first service in the building in late January 2005. The building itself includes an auditorium, office, three classrooms and a full kitchen as well as two bathrooms.
Many people in and outside of the church have lent a hand to the present success of this endeavor. Some people donated labor, some materials, some money, but mostly they have all joined together in harmony to see God’s plan to fruition. Some of the very items in the building today are evidence of such: Communion Service [Ben Franklin Baptist Church, donated by George Vandygriff], Piano & Platform Chairs [Ben Franklin Baptist Church, donated by Loyd & Audrey Vandygriff], Pews [Myrtle Springs Church of Christ], Podium [from The Church at Klondike] Hymnals & Banner [Ben Franklin UMC].
From all walks of life, backgrounds, and yes denominations, the Ben Franklin Community Church is on top of this hill in at 4900 FM 128. The actual deed reads “800 yards from the intersection of FM 128 & 34” …this may well be the very same location as inscribed on that historical marker mentioned earlier…BFCC may just be sitting where the first church began over 150 years ago and they just may have the same vision as well.
© Shanna Hoskison, BFCC Secretary, March 2005