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First Baptist becomes Cross Timbers Baptist Church


The members of the newly-named Cross Timbers Baptist Church in Willow Park will tell you that the adage from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet that “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” applies here.

Renaming any “First Baptist Church” might seem a daunting task, but pastor Jonathan Mansur said his congregation was on board.

“I kind of talked with the staff and some other church leaders about it last summer, in 2021. And I pitched it as an idea to the church at the end of a sermon series, where we just answered the question, ‘what is church,’” Mansur said. “And a lot of those things were leading us to try to match up what Scripture says about the church better. Understanding our membership, our mission, the leadership of the church, and that was going to lead us to making some internal changes.”

In addition to internal changes, the church began updating the outside of its building and the landscaping. Mansur said all of the changes led to the concept that they were becoming a new church.

“And so I proposed that in addition to some of those other changes, we change our name to Cross Timbers Baptist. And nobody gasped in the congregation,” Mansur said.

And so on Sunday, Oct. 23, the church officially changed its name in conjunction with its annual Fall Festival.

Acknowledging that sometimes name changes are associated with rifts, Mansur said that was not the case here, saying the congregation has discussed it for a year.

“We're the same church, but God's making us new, and giving us a new beginning. So changing our name was a way to kind of re-open and re-establish us with a new beginning, since the Lord has done a lot of renewal work,” Mansur said. “Our style hasn't really changed much at all, but there's just been a spiritual renewal and growing depth in the Word and then our knowledge of God, a greater desire to reach our community.”

Mansur added that the church’s location had a bearing on the creation of its new name. Across the street, the City of Willow Park built Cross Timbers Park, which sits next to the Cross Timbers Demonstration Garden.

“It makes sense for us to be Cross Timbers church, so that people really know where we are in the community,” Mansur said.

The church has added several new families this year, and Mansur said four words keep coming up when people talk about the local congregation.

“Whenever we have new members, I ask them, ‘Why did you choose to come here? You know, we're not the biggest church, we don't have all of the things that other churches might be able to offer as far as the number of ministries and facility wise.’ And the four words that kept surfacing are truth, growth, love and reach.

“People said that we really valued the truth of God's word that was evident in our worship and the preaching and the singing. That they really found this was a place to grow spiritually, that the love our people have for one another is actually genuine … and we actually have a desire to reach those within this community and to try to reach the world for Christ.”

Church members and Willow Park city officials celebrated the name change with a ribbon cutting during the festival on Sunday, and as the congregation gathered to celebrate, Mansur addressed the group.

“We believe that God wants people everywhere to seek Him and feel their way towards Him. And we know he has tasked us - and every Christian - with sharing the good news that He’s not far from each one of us because of Jesus. So as his gospel-outpost at this location, we decided to better clarify and identify ourselves with the surrounding community.

“Since God determined our dwelling place next to the Cross Timbers Demonstration Garden, and the newly built Cross Timbers Park, it made sense for us to be called Cross Timbers Baptist Church to show that we are a church in the community, and for the community.

It is our prayer that as Cross Timbers Baptist Church everyone who is seeking God and trying to feel their way toward Him - even if they don’t know He’s what they’re looking for - will find Him here.”


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