DALLAS, July 16, 2018 – First Baptist Church, a Dallas institution since the 19th century that has gained international influence because of its commitment to biblical teaching, will celebrate its 150th anniversary on Sunday, July 29.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick are expected to attend. First Dallas, under the leadership of Senior Pastor Dr. Robert Jeffress, is one of the most historical and influential congregations in the world.
"For 150 years, First Baptist Church Dallas has preached the Bible and because of that when the winds of adversity and criticism have blown against this congregation, it has not fallen because it has been built on the eternal and unchanging truth of God's word," Jeffress said.
Jeffress is a Fox News contributor who has been called "a voice for truth" and "a bold leader in a decaying culture." As a prominent evangelical advisor to President Donald J. Trump, he delivered the dedicatory prayer at the opening of the new U.S. embassy to Israel in Jerusalem in May.
At the time, the Washington Post ran a perspective story saying that Jeffress was a natural choice for the role, given First Dallas' long history of missionary work in Israel and, before its independence, Palestine.
Since becoming senior pastor of First Dallas in 2007, Jeffress has solidified the church's commitment to being built on the Bible, sharing from the pulpit each week the continued relevance of God's Word to address current personal and societal issues. He continues a tradition of distinguished pastors who have occupied the First Dallas pulpit, including Dr. George W. Truett (1897-1944) and Dr. W.A. Criswell (1944-1990).
Under Truett, the church grew from 700-some members to more than 7,000, making it the largest church in America.
Criswell succeeded Truett shortly after his death and served as full-time pastor for 46 years. Upon his death in 2002, Christianity Today called him "one of the most influential Southern Baptists of the 20th century" and reported he was "widely considered the father of modern conservatism. ..."
Criswell championed the inerrancy of Scripture, which continues to be a hallmark of First Dallas, and wrote 54 books, including "Why I Believe the Bible is Literally True." The late evangelist Billy Graham was a member of First Dallas for more than 50 years.
Over the last decade, the 13,000-member church has continued to thrive under the leadership of Jeffress. It reaches millions of listeners and viewers worldwide through its daily radio and weekly TV broadcasts of "Pathway to Victory" and its iCampus.
"First Baptist Dallas has been built on the foundation of the Gospel — and the Gospel we must share with as many people as possible, as soon as possible," Jeffress said.
Founded in 1868 when Dallas was a frontier town, First Dallas has been located downtown ever since, even though the national trend has been for megachurches to relocate to or sprout up in the suburbs.
In 2013, the church reinforced its commitment to downtown Dallas by completing a $135 million renovation of its campus while preserving its historic sanctuary, creating a "spiritual oasis" that covers six city blocks.
Over the years, First Dallas and its ministries have had a dramatic effect on the local community. For example, Truett was instrumental in founding Texas Baptist Memorial Hospital, known today as Baylor Scott & White. And First Dallas founded Dallas LIFE, the largest homeless shelter in North Texas.
Every family that attends the 9:15 or 10:50 a.m. service July 29 will receive a commemorative Bible and all kids will receive a children's book about the history of the church. For more information, visit firstdallas150.org.