In the fall of 1942 a family that had been members of the church, which became the Richmond Avenue Baptist Church, asked their former pastor, Bro. R. E. White to investigate the possibility of beginning a mission work in the Thelma community, about 12 miles south of San Antonio.
Meetings were begun in one family’s home on Sunday afternoons and a small group of people were in attendance. In 1943, space in the Thelma school building was rented and the congregation met there until after the end of WW II. Bro. Osa Dodson, assistant to Bro. R. E. White, began to meet with them and he became the first pastor of what at that time was known as the Thelma School Mission.
In 1946 a small frame building was built upon property obtained from the school district. This was near the intersection of the Old Pleasanton Road and what was later designated as FM 1518 (now Loop 1604). In 1949 classrooms were added and a revival preached by the pastor resulted in 26 souls being saved and the Thelma Baptist Church was ministering to the small farming community.
In the early years of the fifties a drought, still remembered in these parts, resulted in many of the families moving out of the community. The adversary also was at work as usual and after thorough attempts to grow this small congregation a decision was reached to move the church into the south part of San Antonio and to reach into the city as well as minister to those in the nearby rural areas.
In 1958 a good location was found but the owner adamantly refused to sell to a church. The search began in other directions, then the new owner of the same lot found out that a church was looking at the property prior to his purchase and a contract was made to purchase the property at 431 East Pyron Avenue, our present location. The buildings were moved onto the new location and the former property sold back to the Thelma (now Southside ISD) school. Meetings were again held in members homes until the move was complete and a new addition for office, nursery and restrooms was complete.
On the fourth Sunday in January 1959, the first service was held at the new location and the name was changed to Pyron Avenue Baptist Church. On August 10, 1960 the church was organized as an independent, missionary Baptist church. The charter was closed on September 30 with 71 members.
More souls were won to the Lord and others were added by letter from the community. The resulting growth made it necessary in 1962 to build a larger sanctuary and to use the old building for needed Sunday School space.
For nearly 34 years Bro. Osa Dodson had served faithfully as under shepherd to this flock and concern for the future was expressed to him by some of the men of the church. Bro. Patrick Spannagel, a former song leader of the Richmond Avenue Baptist Church who had been pastoring for over 5 ½ years in country churches, was approached with an offer to come as Associate Pastor with the definite view of assuming the Pastorate upon the retirement of Bro. Osa Dodson. In March of 1976 this offer was accepted and Bro. Spannagel was called to the pastorate by unanimous action of the church. After a full and blessed 35 years as pastor Bro. Dodson retired effective December 31, 1977 and on January 1, 1978 Bro. Spannagel assumed the full time ministry.
In 1995 some Spanish speaking families contacted Bro. Spannagel, with a request for the use of space to meet in. After meeting at the church for a few months, Bro. Austin J. Schell, Jr. was called as a missionary to this group and the Misión Bautista Neftalí began in January 1996.
In November 2001, Bro. Rudy Elizondo was called as Associate Pastor. He and his family were vital members of our church.
Because of the failing health of Bro. Schell, on August 1st of 2004, Oscar Rios was called to pastor the mission. Bro. Schell passed away in September of 2004. Under Bro. Oscar’s leadership the mission grew substantially.
In December 2004, Bro. Spannagel suffered a major heart attack and during the next 14 months had two more hospitalizations and heart catheterizations. At the time of the last one in January 2006, Bro. Spannagel decided that it was time to retire. On March 17, 2006 Bro. Spannagel retired and Bro. Rudy became the interim pastor.
In September of 2009, after serving as Associate, Interim and Pastor of Pyron Avenue Baptist Church for 8 years Bro. Rudy decided to resign. The church asked Bro. Spannagel to come back as the Interim Pastor. Because of a lack of qualified candidates Bro. Spannagel accepted the pastorate again in 2010.
In January of 2011, Bro. Juan Juarez, a member of the Misión Neftalí, answered the call of the Lord to come into the work of Pyron Avenue Baptist Church as the Assistant Pastor. He and his wife Cynthia work with the youth and plans are for him to become Associate Pastor following his ordination.
After his ordination and serving as an Associate Pastor, Bro. Juan Juarez was voted by the church as the new Pastor of Pyron Avenue Baptist Church effective September 1, 2015. Bro. Spannagel retired from the Pastorate at that time and remains a pillar of a member and a spiritual mentor to Bro. Juan Juarez. Mision Neftali relocated and found a new supporting church in 2103.
The Pyron Avenue Baptist Church has always been a small church in the eyes of the world. But there have been numbers saved, baptized and taught to serve the Lord. Several men have surrendered to the ministry and pastors and missionaries have served in many fields both far and near who were trained through the ministry of this church. Some are now with the Lord but many remain busy in His Majesty’s Service to this present time. The great commission is still the #1 priority and we pray to continue till the Master returns.
Both at Thelma and here on Pyron Avenue there have been adversaries who have tried to destroy the church and its pastors. Some have come from without and some have come from within, (Acts 20:28-30). But through every attack there has come great assurance and God’s hand of protection and a miraculous demonstration time after time that this is a true church of the Lord Jesus Christ and not to be trifled with, because the enemies are attacking Jesus’ own Body to their own hurt and destruction. We constantly seek to renew our commitment to God and His Perfect Will both in our own individual lives and also for the Church of the Living God. “…in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life…” Phil 2:15,16
By the will of God and only by His great Mercy and Grace will we abide in this place and continue to serve our Sovereign God – even till Jesus comes.