Ross Avenue Baptist Church has stood at the corner of Ross and Moser since 1917. The church began in a tent on Ross and Pavilion in 1894. Its story is like that of any family, with heroes and high hours, embarrassments and low points.

The church has been greatly affected by the ever-changing environment of our evolving City. Once, it sat in a shady neighborhood, and many of its members lived in lovely homes gracing the beautiful tree-lined street of Ross. Many came to church in their Pierce Arrows and Maxwells, which were popular vehicles of the day.

Urbanization brought new challenges, but the congregation decided not to move its location. In 1957, the present pastor, Robert H. Taylor, was brought in to lead an inner-city ministry. And in 1988, the church building was designated an historic landmark on the church’s 75th anniversary.

Now, Ross Avenue Baptist stands at a confluence of culture. It is a member of the East Dallas Cooperative Parish and provides Cambodian and Hispanic missions.

It also helps provide English as a second language classes for neighborhood parents in conjunction with PTAs at Bonham and Fannin elementary schools, and it helps operate the Margaret Kuhns Pre-school Vaccination Clinic in cooperation with the County and City Health Departments.

These programs are made possibly by an innovative effort by Ross Avenue Baptist and other area churches.

Prior to his retirement last year, Former Ross Avenue Baptist Pastor Ray Harrell set in motion plans to obtain 501-(3C) designation for an umbrella group called Ross Avenue Center, which allows Ross Avenue Baptist to work with several churches of various denominations to provide a wider ministry.

By creating the center, which obtained non-profit status about three months ago, Ross Avenue Baptist and its fellow churches have made it possible for donors to support a program such as the vaccination clinic, without having to support a specific denomination. This makes it easier to raise funds, Harrell says.

Future plans for the Ross Avenue Center include an after-school program, which would work with the staff of the John F. Kennedy Learning Center, now under construction next door to the church. The learning center, which is scheduled to open this fall, will have state-of-the-art technical equipment for about 1,000 students from the fourth, fifth and sixth grades who will come from several area schools.

Charges have and will continue to affect the area, but I commend the Ross Avenue family and its leadership for choosing to meet the needs right where they are.