The First Baptist Church of Chaparral History
In 1970, the church’s genesis was a children’s Sunday School that met in Mr. & Mrs. Hubert Byrum’s home. Sunday, December 13, 1970, Missionary Harold Scarbrough began preaching sermons and through Mrs. Byrum’s and children’s visitation, a total of 70 children and adults were present at the first worship service. During the invitation, nine professions of faith were made and recorded. Negotiations to sponsor the developing church as a mission began.
The June, 1971 edition of Border Baptist, newsletter for the El Paso Baptist Association included the article reprinted below:
Chaparral Mission to Become a Church
Plans have been completed for the constitution of Chaparral Mission into an independent cooperating Southern Baptist Church on Sunday, July 4 at 2:30 p.m. Located 12 miles north of the [El Paso] city limits across the New Mexico line just off McCombs Street, the mission as an organization will be just six month old. It operated for more than six months as a Sunday School in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Hubert Byrum, and called its present pastor, R. Elmer Dunham, early in January.
Presiding as moderator will be Missionary Harold Scarbrough, who preached the first sermon for the congregation in mid-December of of 1970. Others on the Program will be Dr. David Hall, pastor of the sponsoring Mountain View Church, Association Moderator, Franklin Dearing, Mr. Carol Writing, Missions Chairman of Mt. View. and Mrs. Hubert (Cheerful) Byrum who will give the church history.
Speakers for the occasion will be pastors of the village and town churches of El Paso Baptist Association, and will include Pastors Bob Donohue, Jr., Dell City; Tom Dunham, Sierra Blanca; Jim Hill, Fabens; Joe Rigsby, Clint; Juan Villanueva, Meadow Vista; Billy Roberts, Fort Hancock; and Bill Wright, Canutillo. These men and other pastors and deacons will constitute an Advisory Constituting Council.
A special feature will be the parade of horseback members and friends, and a fellowship period beginning at 3:30 in the newly constructed fellowship hall now under way. Recognition will be made of many friends who have contributed substantially to the new church or its furnishings. The congregation has more than 65 members, and has baptized more than 24 members in the past four months. It will apply for immediate membership in the El Paso Baptist Association, under the terms of the constitution. A Revival Meeting and Vacation Bible School will be held just preceding the organization. Preacher and singer for the meeting will be the Rev. Lomar Green of Grace Temple, Kermit, and Dr. J.C. Cox, music director of Loma Terrace Church. All pastor[s], deacons, and friends are cordially invited to attend this “Independence Day” organization of this vigorous and growing church.
1971 Christmas Letter
Pastor Elmer Duham’s 1971 Christmas letter included a drawing of a desert roadrunner (aka chaparral) and the church entry and the following update:
This has been the year of the chaparral for us. Our church community is the village of Chaparral, New Mexico, just across the line, 8 miles north of El Paso.
God has wonderfully blessed this church, where we began in January, organized into a church on July 4th. We now own three acres of land and a building worth more than $7,000.00 and paid for. We have money on hand for the new memorial bell tower, and for the second storyof our education unit. The first thing we built was a long hitching rail for the horses, ponies, and mules our people ride to church. Our people live on 3-acre and 5-acre farms, and are really a rural population. At our recent auction sale of the things our boys and girls pledged and raised for the Lottie Moon offering, we sold enough chickens, ducks, geese, rabbits, and pigs to raise $305.00. We have baptized 30 and now have 69 members.
Friends from everywhere (California to Tennessee and throughout Texas) have made donations, so that we now have in matching bleached oak a piano, organ, pulpit, and communion furniture and serving equipment, not to mention opera chairs for the whole sanctuary. We also have much playground equipment for our thriving kindergarten.
The First Baptist Church of Chaparral
In 1974 the church resolved to incorporate a charter with constitution and by-laws and file with the State of New Mexico documents establishing it as a non-profit organization. The name on the documents at that time was The First Baptist Church of Chaparral.
Brother Elmer Dunham, retired missionary, after establishing and helping First Baptist Church of Chaparral build a firm foundation, with support as a mission of Mountain View Baptist of El Paso, retired again in the late 1970s.
A pastor search resulted in the church’s calling Robert (Bob) Fueling. Under Brother Bob’s leadership the church grew in numbers and maturity. Those who saw Brother Bob’s face light up when the hymn “Victory in Jesus” was announced will never forget his enthusiastic singing, foot tapping, and sheer joy for those words. John Feeny, then a University of Texas at El Paso music student, was called to lead a music ministry which he did masterfully for several years. John established choirs, recruited accompanists, and brought guest musicians ranging from students to Ray Peterson (most well known for “Corrina, Corrina,” “Tell Laura I Love Her,” and “The Wonder of You”) and his wife. During this time, a bus ministry was begun to serve the fast-growing Chaparral community. Frank Brown, Eddie Davis, and David Hurley ministered to hundreds of children and youth through the bus ministry. Sunday School and Sunday morning services numbers grew to near 200 regularly. The little building was so crowded every classroom filled so women’s Bible study met in the choir loft, men in a corner of the sanctuary, classes were in the kitchen and pastor’s study. Children’s and youth ministries were a large part of the work with wonderful Vacation Bible Schools and Bible Drill Teams. Two Chaparral Baptist young people, Laurie Parmon and Ryan Chadwick, represented the church at the Regional Bible Drill competition Lubbock in 1981 returning with first place awards. Improvements to the building and grounds included carpeting (after long, contentious business meetings on color selection) the sanctuary, planting trees on the north side, adding a basketball hoop and picnic table to the patio. Anne (Betty) Bastraw served as church treasurer for about 20 years ensuring our fiscal records were in order. Evelyn Pierce was church clerk and established responsible record keeping.
Brother Fueling retired and resigned as pastor in the mid 1980s. Various ministers supplied the pulpit as a pastor search ensued. Joe King, then of First Baptist Van Horn, was invited to visit in view of a call. Brother Joe was unanimously called. He, his wife Eve, and young sons Jeremy and Jonathan brought fresh energy. Betty Bastraw and Eddie Davis continued in both formal and informal leadership positions and provided stability during transitions. The bus ministry continued, but as key people moved and the bus aged that dwindled in effectiveness and was discontinued. Brother Joe remained as pastor for almost a decade. During that time, he continued his education and earned a degree in veterinary medicine. He became a bi-vocational pastor; John Feeney graduated and took another position in El Paso. Attendance was declining by the time Brother Joe resigned.
Retired missionary Gayle Hogg as well as pastor L.C. Lange, both of First Baptist El Paso, served as interims.
Richard Ely, a Chaparral resident, pastored the church. Brother Ely was followed by bi-vocational pastor James Griffin who served until he died tragically after being hit by a vehicle when walking in Las Cruces. Brother James was succeeded by Brother Todd Horton, also bi-vocational; both were from First Baptist Anthony, New Mexico. Under Brother Todd’s leadership attendance on Sunday morning increased from single digits to averages of 20-25. No other services nor outreach activities were held. Brother Todd resigned in 2013.
Richard Plock served as interim pastor at First Baptist Chaparral for approximately one year and was called full-time pastor August 31, 2014. Pastor Plock held a Baccalaureate degree in Applied Arts and Sciences in Practical Theology with a minor in Bible from Howard Payne University. Since Pastor Plock began shepherding the Chaparral flock in April 2014, Sunday School and worship attendance increased substantially. Richard Henry Plock was ordained a minister of the gospel Sunday, April 19, 2015 in an Ordination Service at The First Baptist Church of Chaparral, Chaparral, New Mexico. Brother James Underwood, Rio Grande Baptist Association Missionary chaired the Ordination Council.
Photo: Richard Plock receiving his Ordination Certificate from 90 year old Chaparral church elder, Mel James. For additional photos of this Ordination click here
Two children’s classes were restarted, VBS was held in 2017 for the first time in many years serving 25 Chaparral children, WMU was established and is active in outreach ministry in the Chaparral community. The church, in cooperation with other area churches, hosted a Beth Moore Simulcast with about 60 in attendance. A church mission and vision statement were adopted. The sanctuary was repainted, carpet replaced with tile, the ancient pews donated to a Juarez, Mexico church and replaced with chairs. Other building and grounds improvements included renovating and adding more restrooms.
Pastor Richard resigned in 2018 after doing much to help the church retain a solid footing.
In August, 2018, a pastor search was started to find a full-time pastor. Interim pastors who have visited our congregation include Brother James Underwood, Brother Dennis Garcia, Brother Alexander Feeral, Brother David White, Brother Thomas White and Brother Darryl Hunt.