Church History

Austin's total population in 1894 was 18,000. The State Capitol building was six years old, and the University of Texas campus was a beehive of activity with 447 students enrolled. The new subdivision in north Austin (known as Hyde Park) was just beginning and only a few houses were in the area.

On June 1, 1894, twelve people met in the Austin Electric Street Railway Pavilion between 39th and 40th on Avenue A. W. D. Beverly preached to this congregation, and at the conclusion of his message, all twelve, including Rev. Beverly, indicated their desire to build a new church in the Hyde Park neighborhood.

The church building moved to the Old Hyde Park School while a more permanent and adequate sanctuary was being built by volunteer labor of the church in their spare time. By the spring of 1895, the little 24' x 30' sanctuary was completed on the southwest corner of 39th and Speedway.  There Hyde Park Baptists worshiped for the next fourteen years, until the building was sold to the Hyde Park Presbyterian Church for $450. It must have been a well-constructed building; the original structure is still a part of the Hyde Park Presbyterian Church today, now located at 40th and Avenue B.

As the city grew, so did Hyde Park Baptist Church. In June of 1910, ground was broken for the second worship facility, on the northeast corner of 39th and Speedway Streets.

After World War II had ended, the city of Austin was growing, the University of Texas had its largest enrollment in history, and Hyde Park Baptist Church outgrew its facilities, so on December 11, 1949 the congregation met for the first time in its new sanctuary. Dr. Scott Tatum was then pastor of the rapidly growing church.

Dr. Ralph Smith was called as Pastor in June 1960 and the church entered a period of sustained growth in attendance. While Dr. Smith was pastor, the church experienced a great period of growth in Sunday School and worship attendance. For 36 years until his retirement in 1995, Dr. Smith led Hyde Park to grow and expanded its ministries in every way, including acquiring the Quarries, a 57-acre recreation facility, and started the Hyde Park Baptist Foundation. During this time, Bob Edd Shotwell led the Education Ministry and the Hyde Park Baptist School.

In 1983, the church moved into its current worship facility, which seats over 2,250 worshipers.

In the spring of 1997, the church called Dr. J. Kie Bowman as Senior Pastor. Since then, the church has grown in membership from 10,000 to 13,500, has baptized over 2,700 people, with half of those being adults over the age of 18. In addition, almost 3,000 people have joined by transfer of membership since Dr. Bowman came to Hyde Park Baptist Church.

In 1999, Dr. Bowman led the church to adopt the vision of Forward Forever for capital improvements and ministry expansion. Since then, the congregation has given about $13 million over and above the budget receipts to fund these growth initiatives. Some of these include the 2001 renovation of the Worship Center and the 2003 development of the Quarries, which consisted of building an entrance from Loop 1. The construction of a varsity football field for the Hyde Park High School football team was also completed in 2003. 2004 saw the completion of a major renovation of the “Breezeway,” and in 2005, construction began on the Ralph and Bess Smith Christian Life Center which was completed in the summer of 2006.

During Dr. Bowman’s pastorate, several new ministries have launched, including Mission Austin, a year round ministry of benevolence and evangelism throughout the city of Austin, and the annual Independence Day outdoor celebration, reaching more than 4,500 people each year. Additionally the number of International Mission trips taken by Hyde Park members has reached unprecedented numbers.

The church is currently involved in a strategic growth analysis to consider additional outreach initiatives for the 21st century.