Woodland Hills Baptist Church began as a mission out of the First Baptist Church in Clute, Texas. The first services were held on the second Sunday in September of 1969. The 19-member congregation met in a rented building at 2710 West Erwin Street under the name of Tyler Independent Baptist Church. This was a dream-come-true for Pastor David Smith, who had a burden for starting an Independent Baptist Church in Tyler. He resigned the pastorate of the First Baptist Church in Clute, Texas on August 17, 1969, having related his burden to the church and asking if they felt it within the Lord’s will to sponsor him in this home missionary endeavor. Bro. Smith was supported financially for about 15 months on the new field by over 15 sister churches in Texas and Oklahoma.
On February 7, 1971, the church voted to purchase two acres of land at 3400 Old Jacksonville Hwy. and to sell bonds to support a building program. An all-inclusive church building was constructed on this newly-purchased property after the men of the congregation cleared the land by cutting down many trees and brush. A new name for the church was decided on at this time. The church voted to name the new church “Woodland Hills Baptist Church.”
Bro. David Smith resigned on June 9, 1973. The next pastor was Bro. Robert (Bobby) Parker, who pastored the church from July 1, 1973, until April 1982. He and his family made many personal sacrifices to keep the church alive.
Dr. Wiley Bennett began as pastor on May 16, 1982, and faced a congregation of only eight people. Through dedicated soul winning, the church began to prosper and to support many missionaries. A small house was donated to the church and was used as Sunday School classrooms. This building is now being used as housing for an associate pastor.
Through a building program supported by the congregation, an educational building was built with 8,000 square feet for offices, classrooms, a fellowship hall and kitchen. This building was dedicated on August 18, 1985. The original auditorium was remodeled and expanded in 1985. In 1990, the two buildings were joined by a lobby. The church purchased a house adjacent to the church in the early 2000’s, and has been used as a mission house. The church owns four acres of land.
Bro. Michael Shane Ogdie became pastor on August 8, 2008 after Dr. Wiley Bennett retired for health reasons. He immediately went to work on making facility improvements. The restrooms were remodeled, the upstairs of the educational building completed, and the Christian school, Woodland Hills Baptist Christian Academy, was reestablished. As the church outgrew the sanctuary, Sunday School classroom walls were torn down to enlarge the fellowship hall into a new, modern sanctuary where the congregation still gathers today. A coffee shop was established to welcome visitors and provide a comfortable atmosphere for meeting with the Pastor. Bro. Ogdie has a vision for a gymnasium and new facilities to be built in the near future. He is a man of faith who is relying on the Lord’s timing to accomplish this goal. Soul winning and missions continue to be the emphasis at Woodland Hills Baptist Church, as it has been throughout the years of its existence.