Andice’s ‘best kept secret’ has storied history

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By Dana Delgado

ANDICE — Derrick Norris says his newest home is likely the “area’s best kept secret.” So enticing, he says it might well be his last.

As the “effervescent” Senior Pastor of Andice Baptist Church, he should know. Since arriving at the church last August, Pastor Norris has seen the church flourish, drawing new members from a variety of nearby communities including Georgetown, Cedar Park, Leander, Briggs, Jarrell, Lampasas and Liberty Hill. Its membership has doubled over the last seven months, increasing from 70 to 150.

Besides the appeal of its quiet, rural setting in Andice, the church has a long storied history, a modern spacious facility with ample grounds, and a strong and expansive ministry program.

“It’s exciting and a blessing,” said Norris. “We have blended worship with contemporary music along with a puppet ministry. Members really get into it.”

The church also provides a children’s ministry up to fourth grade, a nursery, and has a playground. Various adult prayer groups including a women’s group and a group for married couples are offered along with an engaging vacation bible school filled with unique experiences, adventures and creative games.

The church is also one of a few churches with an Awana Ministry up to 12th grade. In addition, an outreach project with the Florence Independent School District has been initiated and last fall’s festival drew hundreds.

“There’s just a sweet spirit in this church and I have a peace being here,” Norris said.

The facility is impressive, modern and stately with more than adequate space for all the church’s programs including a large fellowship wing. Its history reflects a resilient spirit with an eye to the future.

Norris said he first visited Andice Baptist Church seven years ago and when the opportunity arose for him to become senior pastor, he didn’t hesitate.

Born and raised in Louisiana, Norris said his early life was filled with strife and if there was a sin to be committed, he committed it. He said he met the Lord at age 32, and four years later met his father who had been absent from his life. He spent 20 years in the navy, 14 as a recruiter, which he said helped him develop leadership skills and earn him the rank of Chief Petty Officer.

Norris ministered at various churches in Ohio, Michigan, Oklahoma and Hawaii before relocating to Texas to be near his children.

“I’ve grown a lot as a pastor,” he said. “When I was an executive pastor, I missed preaching. I love people and am always available where they’re at.”

As an avid sportsman and triathlete, he is always on the go.

“Andice Baptist Church is the best kept secret and we are debt-free,” said Norris. “Our giving has tripled. Leading by example makes a big difference.”

Pastor Norris further credits “Life Coach: Discipleship,” a handbook by Brandon Park from which he underscored three key principles: accountability breeds responsibility; living example of a loving god who is watching; and helping everyone.

Assisting with the various church functions are a capable staff and 11 engaged deacons. Cindy Armstrong oversees the children’s ministry while Briana Chapman is the
worship/music leader. Caleb Cruce is the current student minister, but is scheduled to become associate pastor.

A Texas Historical Marker describes the founding of Andice Baptist Church that was organized about 1851 and congregated in a log school house from 1854-1876 with Reverend Josiah Andrews of Arkansas serving as the first Baptist pastor. The founding followed the reported area preaching visits by Rev. Freeman Smalley, one of the first Baptists in Texas. His youngest son, Anderson Montgomery Smalley, born in 1837, is buried in the Andice Cemetery.

The church’s website (www.andicebc.org) further chronicles the various stages of the church’s development. From 1876-1894, services were held in a new school building called the White House School because it was painted white and was the first painted structure in the community. In 1894, the church opened its own structure at nearby Pilot Knoll which it occupied until it was destroyed in a severe storm in 1908 prompting the congregation to rebuild. Following the depression in 1936, the church was torn down and rebuilt using salvaged materials. It opened on Easter Sunday in 1937. After a series of names over its history, this new structure bore the name of Andice Baptist Church. It now worships near the original 1850s site where the first pastor, Josiah Andrews, would customarily hang his pistol on a peg on the hewn, oak-stump Bible stand while he preached in case of an Indian raid.

Due to its growth and forward thinking, the church has undergone continued renovation. In 2005, members voted to improve existing buildings and construct new facilities while purchasing additional acreage to expand its grounds. An official dedication was held in 2009 to celebrate the enhanced facility that included a large worship room, a pre-school wing, a library, church offices, seven classrooms, and a music room among various other additions. Items from the old church were incorporated into the new and renovated facility including a wooden cross, a bell from the bell tower, and etched glass doors.

While the church changed structures, locations and even names over its storied history, its strength and determination have remained unchanged.

“We’ve always had a wonderful spirit,” said longtime church member Connie Kanetzky. “We care for one another.”

“We have a loving, growing community,” Norris said. “If you are looking to be loved, we invite you to our church. We think you will find a home. You will be pleasantly surprised by what you will find.”

Additional information on the church and its programs is available online. Sunday 11 a.m. worship services are streamed live on its Facebook page.

Andice Baptist Church is located at 6570 FM 970 in Andice (Florence).

Dana@LHIndependent.com

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