‘The little church with the big heart’

By SUSIE SANSOM-PIPER Reporter contributor

Rising Star Baptist Church has been in the same Texas Street location since move in 1963. Rising Star Baptist Church has been in the same Texas Street location since move in 1963. Editor’s note: The third edition of Susie Sansom Piper’s Black History Month series “On The Other Side of the Tracks” profiles churches in Rockdale’s African- American community.

A group of inspired leaders met together in September, 1907, and, under the leadership of Rev. W. M. Larry, organized Rising Star Baptist Church in the Tracy community.

In December, 1924, a new edifice was built and dedicated under the leadership of Rev. D. Westbrook.

The first cornerstone ceremony was observed in September, 1941.

During this period the majority of members migrated to other areas in Milam County for better working conditions.

New location

Under the leadership of Rev. A. E. Chew Sr. the church was moved to its present location on Texas Street in 1963.

After Rev. Chew’s resignation, Rev. J. A. Piper was elected as pastor, serving the congregation for the next eight years.

Under his pastorate the church was completely remodeled and the second cornerstone ceremony was observed in August, 1972, under the leadership of Rev. L. O. Lang and Moderator Rev. R. A. Westbrook.

The year 1967 brought new experiences in Christian relationship between churches in the city.

Rising Star Baptist Church and Allen Chapel AME Church joined alliance and organized a fellowship between the two churches.


This was an inspired revelation of Pastor O. W. Duncan (AME) and J. A. Piper (RSB) to join saints of diverse denominations in Christian fellowship.

This was the beginning of the Rockdale Eastside Fellowship of Churches which is still in existence today.

The congregation has also experienced many new innovations under the leadership of former pastors Revs. James Mosely, Ronald W. Carter, Raymond L. Owens and James Davis.

These included a remodeling project, new musical instruments, expansion of central unit, youth ministry, praise dance team, church sign, brotherhood ministry, Christian charm class, male chorus and musical workshop.


The church has long been noted as the “little church with a big heart” because of its generosity and support to the community, families in need and civic projects.

A building fund was implemented under Rev. James Davis with the vision of a new worship center which would include an educational building and other facilities.

Over the past 100 years 17 ministers have served Rising Star as pastors.

President minister is Rev. Royal L. Johnson. Under his leadership the church continues to prosper and is now experiencing phase II of the new building program.

Plans are to pay as you go so that the new building can be entered debt free by next year.

He has also implemented several new programs to encourage and enhance the community as a whole.

Rising Star’s motto is “striving to love one another as God loves us.”

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