Where Christianity is practiced and not merely discussed.
True Lee Missionary Baptist Church
1908 to Present
Our church had an humble beginning. Its history is filled with many interesting revelations about people and places. The purpose for starting the church seems clear today as it was in 1910, “to Worship God”.
Bro. and Sis. Peter and Chanie Miles, the parents of Miss Mary Emma Miles, and several other families came to Dallas from Palmer, Texas. They purchased lots that had one time belonged to Old Grandma Lagow. These families were members of the Lucille Baptist Church of Palmer, Texas, under the leadership of Rev. Herron. The men who were deacons sought to continue their church life, so they built a Church Arbor where they held prayer meetings and Sunday School. The community began to grow. Rev. John D. Phears, who had come from time to time, met with them and said one night at prayer meeting, “since you have such a nice group of folks, you need to organize a church”.
A cold wintry day, on January 10, 1910, Rev. John D. Phears met with several other residents of the small community in East Dallas, known as Mill City, and organized the True Vine Baptist Church. The meeting was held in the home of Bro. & Sis. L.H. Brown. The Church’s first elected officers were Rev. John D. Phears, Pastor: Bro. P. Miles, G. Sheppard and A McCray, deacons; Sis. Johnnie Lou Evans, church clerk; Bro. J.S. Banks, Sunday School Superintendent and Sis. Mary Emma Miles, Sunday School Secretary. The church purchased two lots from Mr. Jones, a real estate agent. On one of the lots was a one-room house and it was there that the church held its services using kerosene lamps for lights and wood for fuel.
Being a minister and a teacher, Rev. Phears served one year. Upon returning to his school work at Guadalupe College, he suggested that the church call someone else for their pastor. Rev. A.L. Lofton was the choice of the body. During his pastorate the Skillern, Brown and Bookman families united with the church. Upon the resignation of Rev. Lofton, Rev. S.E. Edwards was called to serve as pastor. He was later succeeded by Rev. Coleman.
The pastors who served the True Vine Church from 1918 to 1931 were Rev. W.P. Brown and Rev. P.M. Mitchell who served for nine years. The church grew rapidly under his leadership. The indebtedness on the property was paid off, notes were burned and many united with the church. Later the church was rebuilt. Being in need of finance, the property was remortgaged. Soon thereafter Rev. Mitchell resigned and Rev. T.E. Marshall accepted the call.
In 1931, Rev. Calvin J. Johns was called as pastor. Under his leadership the church moved forward again. Rev. Johns gave the church the kind of stability it once knew under Rev. Mitchell’s leadership. True Vine started attracting many more new members, and growth and prosperity were once again hers. Among the new members attracted was a young man by the name of Robert L. Parish, Sr., from Calvert, TX., a small farm town in Robertson County. He united with the church in 1932. He immediately began to work in the church by singing in the choir and serving wherever he was needed. Sis. Rosie Lee Fullylove served as musician for the True Vine Church during this period.
True Vine had attracted a large and diverse group of members. Consequently differences in opinion occurred to such an extent that the church was divided. Rev. Johns left True Vine remained with the members who became the Galilee Baptist Church. The church body worshipped in a building on Spring Ave. near the underpass. The building was owned by Bro. & Sis. Will and Mamie Skillern Harris. It was a large building with two rooms. One side was the Harris Grocery Store and the other side was where Galilee worshiped. Rev. Barnes was called as pastor of True Vine. Again the church was torn down and only a small portion rebuilt since the members had incurred a great debt against the property.
Rev. Robert L. Parish acknowledged his call to the Gospel Ministry and in October of 1937 he was ordained. After the passing of Rev. Johns, Rev. W.M. Smith served briefly as pastor. Rev. R.L. Parish, who had been called to the ministry in October, was called to pastor the Galilee Baptist Church. After the resignation of Rev. Barnes who pastured True Vine, Rev. E.D. Reed served as pastor for a short time. Then Rev. A.J. Jackson served as interim pastor.
The pulpit committee of the True Vine Church contacted Rev. R. L. Parish requesting that he consider becoming their leader. Rev. R. L. Parish declined their offer stating that he was satisfied with his present church the Lord had given him. He suggested to the committee that if the two churches, True Vine and Galilee would meet in a sincere attempt to resolve their differences and consolidate, he would pastor both churches as one body.
One Friday night in August the two churches met, settled their grievances and consolidated. Rev. Robert L. Parish, Sr., became their pastor. The name was changed from True Vine and GaliLee to True Lee Baptist Church. Sis. Ophelia Chism served as True Lee’s first musician after the consolidation of the church body. In the early forties the True Vine building was torn down, the lumber destroyed and a great debt was against the property. Rev. Parish brought the churches back together and did as the Lord did Jacob, changed its name, redeemed the property and built a new building. Ministers that served under the leadership of Rev. Robert L. Parish, Sr. were Associate Ministers Rev. Nathaniel Dixon and Rev. Willie Eugene Harvey. Sis. Johnnie Lou Evans, the church clerk stated, “Rev. R.L. Parish was the youngest and the best we have ever had. The other leaders did great works, but God said “Greater work shall ye do”. Rev. Parish brought the church back together, redeemed the property, did as the angel did Jacob, gave us a new name, rebuilt the church and purchased another lot. We were proud to say, with God’s help we owed no man.”
The early 1950’s the City of Dallas notified some of the families of Mill City that they had to move because they wanted to extend the Julia C. Frazier Housing Project. In 1951, with the purchase of 4 ½ acres of the J.C. Woods estate, Rev. Parish dedicated four lots for the extension of Carpenter Ave. across Lagow. On the remaining acreage, God led this great pastor to move the church building and 19 homes on April 13, 1951 to our present site, 3907-11 Bertrand Ave. For this accomplishment, the City of Dallas and Hexter Title Company honored Rev. Parish by naming this addition the Robert Lawrence Parish Sub-Division. After settling in their new community, True Lee’s membership grew so rapidly that it soon became apparent that a larger church was necessary.
In 1953, God gave our pastor another vision. He told him to rebuild the walls of True Lee and erect a brick structure. Rev. R. L. Parish presented his plan to the membership. The enemies said he couldn’t but God said he could. He told him as he told Joshua, “As I was with my servant Moses, I will be with you” and all the members, like the people were when Nehemiah was building the walls of Jerusalem, had a mind to work and the brick church was built.
On the evening of September 9, 1954 the members marched from Imperial St. to the new beautiful brick edifice at 3907-11 Bertrand Ave. The dedicatory sermon was delivered by Dr. B.R. Riley, Moderator of the Galilee Griggs Memorial District Association. Paul Drayton Masonic Lodge laid the cornerstone. We all praised God on one accord. Other ministers who served during the 50’s under the leadership of Rev. R.L. Parish, Sr., were the Rev. Jesse Sims, Rev. Lewis Little, Rev. L.C. Triggs, Rev. L.B. Bartley, Rev. Billy Hubbard, Rev. Charles Hubbard and Rev. Curtis Watts.
Another vision given our pastor early in 1955 was to organize a Kindergarten School to reach our children while they were young so they might grow in God’s grace. Sis. R.L. (Lois) Parish served as Director. Four teachers were employed: Sis. Mary Little, Sis Ruby Haynes, Lela Kelly (Young), and Sis. R. Gordon.
In March a station wagon was purchased for the purpose of transporting our members and children to and from church and school. In the latter part of 1955, every year thereafter, two weeks Vacation Bible School was held at the church and we also sent delegates to all District, State and National Meetings.
True Lee’s Sunday School was reorganized by Pastor Parish on Saturday, September 1, with three departments: Children’s, Young People’s and Adult’s; total enrollment 300. The Church parsonage and education building were remodeled and another station wagon purchased in 1957.
The Six-Point Record System was instituted in 1958 with 37 officers and during the year our church’s sign and church furniture were purchased. Pastor Parish, Supt. William Dorn, James Whitlow, Ruth Norman & Educational Director Bro. H.J. Watts was a team working together for the spiritual enrichment of the church membership.
In April, Leadership Training Classes were organized. These classes provided ways to help us grow in obedience to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. There were five instructors; Bro. H.J. Watts, Bro. John Sterrett, Bro. C.L. Gipson, Sis. Elsie Miller, Pastor R.L. Parish, Sr. & Sis. Irene Menter Hammond was General Secretary. Sis. Ophelia Chism was added to the Leadership Staff for the Music Department in June, 1959.
The Church membership grew rapidly. Sis. Elsie V. Miller united with the True Lee church. She attended Sunday School and later was elected teacher for Adult Class No. 5 and later Class No. 8. The Sunday School had one Financial Effort. The April rally started the fourth Sunday in January and closed the fourth Sunday in April. One Thursday night at Teacher’s meeting, Superintendent Dorn made the statement, “This is a moving world and you cannot stand still. We must be about growing the church.” He asked if anyone had an idea or plan to further financially help the Church School. Sis. Miller asked, “Why not have a Homecoming Fellowship with former members.” She stated; “In nearly all of the churches you will find someone that once belonged to True Lee.” Her suggestion was accepted and she was voted Program Chairperson. In 1960, we held our first Homecoming Fellowship service. This hymn is not used for a memorial; the former members who are yet “alive” and return back for the Homecoming Service we are asking, Are We Yet Alive? And see each other’s face? Glory and praise to Jesus give, for His redeeming grace! It is a joy to know that you are still on the battlefield witnessing to the unsaved and still serving and praising the Lord.
Our Pastor, Rev. R.L. Parish, Sr., was elected Moderator of the Galilee Griggs Memorial District Association at the District Session held at the church in September.
In 1970, the church purchased a lot from Mr. & Mrs. Will and Mamie Harris. A duplex and lot located on the corner of Bertrand & Imperial were purchased in 1972. Both lots were converted to a church parking lot, #1 & #2. Also in 1972, a house and lot were purchased from Sis. Nora Armstrong. Our new Educational Annex and Parishares Fellowship Hall were erected in 1973. The dedicatory service was conducted by Rev. J.J. Johnson of Sims Chapel Baptist Church. The cornerstone was laid on February 18, 1973 by the M.W. St. Joseph Grand Lodge A.F. & A.M. of Texas and we entered into the new educational building.
Rev. Kenneth D. Pace, a member of the Male Chorus was called to the ministry in 1978. Also another Male Chorus member and Deacon Rev. Donald R. Parish, Sr., in 1979, acknowledged his call to preach the Gospel under the leadership and tutelage of his Pastor & father, Rev. R. L. Parish, Sr.
In 1983, Rev. Kenneth Pace & Rev. D.R. Parish, Sr., were ordained by Pastor R.L. Parish, Sr., the Rev. J.W. Washington, Rev. Harold King & Rev. L.J. Batty. Rev. D.R. Parish, Sr., served as assistant to his father for many years. In 1984, Rev. Millard P. Parish and Rev. Lowell C. Chaney were ordained by Pastor R.L. Parish, Sr., along with the other ministers; Rev. Washington, Rev. King & Rev. Batty.
The church traveled to Ennis, TX in March for the Installation Service of our former Deacon and Male Chorus member, Rev. Millard P. Parish, who was called by the Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church to serve as their pastor. In May, Rev. Buford L. Kemp, Jr., another Deacon & Male Chorus member was called to the ministry.
On June 25, 1992, Rev. Robert L. Parish, Sr., who had been our pastor for 54 years, was laid to rest. On August 19, 1992, Rev. Donald R. Parish, Sr., was unanimously elected by the church body to become the pastor of True Lee Missionary Baptist Church. His installation service was held on October 11, 1992 with the Rev. Cedric D. Britt, Pastor of Mt. Gilead Baptist Church of Ft. Worth, TX presiding. The theme of the Installation Service was “A New Beginning”.
Under the leadership of Pastor D.R. Parish, Sr., the laymen who acknowledge their call to the ministry were the late Rev. James Arbuckle, Rev. Larry Williams, Rev. Donald R. Parish, Jr. & Rev. Derrick Perry. As it is told from the pages of our history, True Lee has been blessed to have many ministers to come from the Male Chorus singing ministry since its inception.
On February 5, our pastor left for Africa as a member of the 14th Preaching Team under the leadership of Rev. Dr. William J. Harvey, III. Their mission carried them to many diverse places from the modern cities of the Republic of South Africa to the mountainous monarchies of Lesotho and Swaziland. From the turbulent streets of Zambie to the laid-back, down-home country style of Malawi. Wherever they went, they preached Jesus Christ and His crucifixion, to the glory of God and to the saving of souls. In the article from the Mission Herald, Vol. 96, #2, March/April 1996, “Impressions of Africa”, by Rev. D.R. Parish, Sr., he thanked God and his church, which gave him the time to go, financed the trip and prayed fervently for his safe travel. He also thanked God for a man like his father, the late Rev. R. L. Parish, Sr., who introduced him to the work of the Foreign Mission Board.
In April, Rev. Val McDonald united with the True Lee membership and serves as one of our Associate Minister under the leadership of Pastor Parish. Rev. Lowell C. Chaney, Sr., our Associate Minister, was called to serve as interim pastor of the Shady Grove Baptist Church from June to November where the legendary Pastor Lloyd J. Batty served as Pastor Emeritus. In November, he was elected as pastor and on December 1st, True Lee shared in his Installation Service with our Pastor, Rev. D.R. Parish, Sr., bringing the message.
Rev. Buford L. Kemp, Jr. was ordained by Pastor Parish, Rev. Charles Reed, Rev. Lowell Chaney, Rev. Kenneth D. Pace, Rev. Millard P. Parish & Rev. Burley Hudson. Two events of the church were restructured by the Pastor: the 38th Homecoming Service and the Church Anniversary were merged as one event.
True Lee celebrated the end of 1999 by hosting several “Y2K” events. The theme was “Crossing Into the New Millennium with an Unchanging Christ”, Hebrews 13:8. The events were: Helium for the New Millennium, releasing of 100 balloons across America spreading the news of the many celebrations at True Lee, a Bertrand block party, witnessing to those that attended, dressing back in the “good-ole days”, Musical concert with Sis. Doris Jackson and Friends in concert, one week of revival, with our Pastor & Associate Ministers as honored speakers each night, Watch night, with brick signing and time capsule hosted by “The Lord Build this House” campaign.
On January 9, 2000 before our Church Anniversary/Homecoming service, the historical groundbreaking ceremony of our new sanctuary was held with the Shady Grove & Pleasant Hill Baptist Church as our guest to share in this glorious celebration. Rev. Winfred Venters, yet another member who served in the Male Chorus, acknowledged his call to the ministry and on January 20, 2000 was ordained by Pastor Parish of this year.
In July 2003, the ordination service was held for Rev, Donald R. Parish, Jr., son of our Pastor and Rev. Derrick Perry. Later in the year, the church traveled to Palestine, TX. To the New Chapel Baptist Church where Rev. Derrick Perry was called as pastor. The installation message was delivered by Pastor D.R. Parish, Sr.
True Lee members fellowshipped, for the first time, with the Greater Mount Calvary C.O.G.I.C. located at the corner of Bertrand & Lagow. On parking lot #1, time capsule was placed in the east gate to be opened in April, 2053. Each member wrote a message to read at that time. In July, people from our community and other areas of Dallas met at True Lee for the “community clean-up” event. The church purchased the property at the corner of Bertrand Ave. & Scyene future plans of the church will be to erect a Christian Life Center through “Building God’s Way”. In September, Pastor Parish and Bro. Michael Cheatham, Chairman of the Building Fund, traveled to Utah to meet with members of “Building God’s Way”.
In January, the church closed on the purchased property at 3910 Carpenter St. (Will & Mamie Harris’ place), construction for additional parking space and a children’s play area. Also, our members gathered on the lots purchased in 2003; for a demolition ceremony; Hope Restoration, Inc. in the “Rebirth of A Neighborhood, by “Building God’s Way”. In February, a program honoring a gifted and talented African American, Paul Roberson, was presented by the radio station WRR and the Dallas Russian Community, the program was held at the church.
The position of Youth Minister was added to the church staff in October, this position was filled by Rev. Donald R. Parish, Jr.
Our Pastor along with the Rev. Vaughn, president of Texas State Baptist Convention, went on a missionary trip to India.
The church selected in February, seven laymen’s to be trained for Deacons: Brother’s Lee Garrett, Bruce Jordan, Patrick Lovely, Ricky McClellan, Robert Small, Raymond Barrett & Clayton Doggett. In May, the church signed a contract for paving, lighting and fencing of the Carpenter St. lots. Sis. Ida Mills traveled to Africa on a missionary trip with a mission group to help in building houses and planting gardens. Pastor Donald R. Parish, Sr. was elected Interim Moderator of the Galilee Griggs Memorial District Association at the district session held at the church in October.
2006 to Present
In January Pastor Parish officially announced his intention to seek the City Council seat for District 7 (South Dallas. Pastor Parish and Sis. Parish visited the Holy Land with group from St. Michael’s Episcopalian Church. In September the Church announced the start-up of a new website, www.truelee.org. Galilee Griggs Memorial District Association convened at New Jerusalem Baptist Church, where Pastor Parish was elected as the Moderator for the next four years. Reverend Keith Overton and Reverend Clifford Johnson were issued their license to preach the gospel in December. In ????, Deacon Kevin Longshaw acknowledge his calling into the ministry and was licensed to preach the gospel in ????.
True Lee Missionary Baptist Church | 3907 Bertrand Avenue| Dallas, TX 75210 | (214) 421-9435