On April 24, 1884, today’s Deep Gap Baptist Church in Del Rio was organized in a building known as ‘Bible’s Chapel,’ located a short distance from today’s structure next to Reece Hollow Road.
A Rev. ‘A. Bright’ was the organizing minister and preached the first sermon from I Peter 2 “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.”
Later the church was moved to a gap between Baker’s Branch Road and Tom’s Creek Road, and still later to the Deep Gap Ridge Road. While there, the congregation met in three separate structures, including two built on the same site.
The first service held in that last building on Deep Gap Ridge Road was conducted on November 3, 1923, and the late in August of 1937. Church membership was growing strongly during this era, with 26 members added, including 21 by baptism.
The next move took the congregation back to the building between Baker’s Branch Road and Tom’s Creek Road. In 1954, Deep Gap moved to its present location, a beautiful spot at the base of the hill covered by the historic Clark Cemetery.
Although early records are scarce, it is believed Deep Gap Baptist Church was organized with ten members, eight by letter and two by baptism. Sister churches from Grassy Fork and Roaring Fork, North Carolina assisted in the organization.
Over the years, many men of God have served Deep Gap in the capacity of pastor. These include A. Bright, L.J. Bailey, T.F. Moore, E. Holt, S.M. Sexton, M.R. Free, J.B. Cogdill, D.D. Blanton, William Hall, S.A. McGhee, G.O. Wild, Lewis Clarke, R.G. Tarlton, C.N. Huff, L.D. Carlisle, H.C. Tarlton, C.A. Worley, H.A. Freeman, Estel Strickland, Richard Haney, Coleman Caldwell, Iliff Suggs, James Suggs, Jack Coggins, Joe Carroll, Jerry Austin, George Johnson, Don Moore, Paul Mayfield, Willie Strange, Jr., and Wayne Haney.
Initially services were held on Saturday afternoons and Sunday mornings. No full-time minister served the church until Rev. Iliff Suggs accepted the call in August of 1962.
No history of Deep Gap Baptist Church would be complete without mention of the adjacent Clark Cemetery.
The cemetery dates to Civil War times, probably starting as the Bible Family Cemetery. Over the decades, it has grown to become the resting place for hundreds of Del Rio residents from numerous family.
Each year Decoration Day is celebrated in great style with hundreds of people gathering on the hillside to place beautiful flowers on the graves of their loved ones. There’s preaching and singing, and many families hold their family reunions the same day. At the end of the day, the hillside is a veritable flower garden with thousands of brightly colored blossoms covering every grave. It is indeed a sight to behold.