The History of Southside Baptist Church
In 1934 at the Tyler home of Mr. and Mrs. C.E. Smith, twenty-four members of a little mission church stepped out in faith and voted to build a new building. Their church, which had no name and was being pastored by Curtis Birtcher, had been meeting in a tiny log cabin on the Smith property under the sponsorship of East Texas Baptist Church, but had outgrown the cramped cabin.
From that step of faith, the Lord worked in the lives and plans of the members and the church, eventually evolving into what is now Southside Baptist Church.
The members, who had begun by meeting in the log cabin at the corner of Broadway and R.E. Lee Drive, dedicated their new building on September 30, 1945, on one-fourth acre donated by Rev. W.O. Williams, and the church was given the name Williams Memorial Baptist Church. That land is now known as Times Square, which is part of Tyler’s busy commercial district.
Businesses crowded in on Williams Memorial Baptist Church until the members decided, once again, to relocate and build. A site on Old Jacksonville Road was chosen and the name of Southside Baptist Church was selected for the new facility. Groundbreaking ceremonies at the new address were held on March 21, 1984, followed one year later with the building completion and dedication on March 17, 1985.
Membership had grown but subsequently waned, and in January 1988, Southside became a mission of Tyler’s Green Acres Baptist Church, which helped revitalize Southside with Ron Wells as interim pastor.
Growing once again, Southside called Dennis Wiles to serve as pastor from October 1988 until October 1991, followed by Ron Wells until April 1997, and the church progressed from mission status to a full-fledged church for a second time.
In January of 1999, Dr. Mark Price became pastor and remains in that position today, faithfully leading the membership to more growth and an additional building. He is always working to guide the church in the practice of the Great Commandment and the promotion of the Great Commission. On January 10, 2019, Dr. Mark Price and his wife Kelly celebrated their twentieth year here at Southside.
With the emphasis on teaching and preaching the Word, Southside is still building, in membership, facilities, and evangelistic endeavors. On its own, and through prayer and offerings to local and worldwide causes through the Southern Baptist Convention, Central Baptist Convention of Texas, and Smith Baptist Association, Southside Baptist Church has set out to spread the word of the Lord and to increase the caring fellowship of believers.