Our History

Our History

Cliff Temple Baptist Church: A Century of Serving

In the early Spring of 1898, twenty-six members of the First Baptist Church of Oak Cliff left the church to form the Oak Cliff Baptist Church to remain with the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Walter B. Hillsman led the new congregation until he returned to finish his studies at Baylor University in the Fall of 1898. The congregation then chose the Rev. Joe W. English as its next pastor.

Pastor English led the church for more than two years and guided the construction of the congregation’s first chapel at Jefferson and Lancaster Streets in Oak Cliff. The church had three more pastors from 1901 until 1904 when Pastor English returned. During his second tenure he helped with the building of a second church in 1908 and led the congregation to change its name to Memorial Baptist Church.

In 1912, under the guidance of Dr. J.B. Gambrell and Dr. George W. Truett, members of First Baptist Church of Oak Cliff and Memorial Baptist Church joined to form a new congregation. The unified church became the Central Baptist Church of Oak Cliff and was led by Dr. W.A. Hewitt until 1918.

In 1918 Dr. Wallace Bassett was called as pastor and remained for 48 years until his retirement in 1966 at the age of 81. During his tenure he led the church to change its name to Cliff Temple Baptist Church, oversaw the church’s growth to 5,000 members and served in many denominational leadership roles with Baylor University, the Southern Baptist Annuity Board and the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Under Dr. Bassett’s leadership and that of his successors the church laid a strong foundation for ministry and social work in Dallas’ inner city.

Cliff Temple has been committed throughout its century of existence to ministering to the needs of its North Oak Cliff community. An important part of that ministry is Mission Oak Cliff. Begun as a food pantry in 1948 by Mrs. Virginia Goslin, the ministry provides emergency food and clothing for 50,000 people each year. For 63 years this ministry has served the North Oak Cliff community with compassion, dignity, and love.

We are committed to fulfilling the Great Commission, and engaged in “re-dreaming” the Cliff Temple dream. While we celebrate the rich heritage that has brought us together, we also give thanks for the fresh new possibilities that are on our horizon.

Cliff Temple sent out its first "missionaries" to Guatemala in recent years, while also challenging people to live as missionaries in the places where they live, work and play in their everyday lives here in Dallas. New ministries have been birthed to those struggling with addiction, to single adults in need of community, to those living with special needs and to those who require new job skills. We celebrate what God is doing around us and desire to follow the lead of Christ into places of brokenness and despair. We believe that God has helped us to be faithful in the past and leads us into a bright future.