A Light In The Bottom

A History of Shiloh Baptist Church

By Thomas W. Spann
Foreword by Rev. Dr. Johnnie R. Bradley, Sr.

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(Photo Credit: Front and Back Cover Photographs by Clair Kennedy Redmon)

Front Cover - A Light in the Bottom


A Light in the Bottom: A History of Shiloh Baptist Church

This book is the story of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church that was organized in 1911 in Dallas, Texas, about eight years after Oak Cliff, Texas was annexed to the City of Dallas. The neighborhood in which the church was founded referred to itself as “The Bottom”—a seemingly godforsaken piece of earth. Early African American residents of Oak Cliff transformed this tough piece of real estate into a habitable space. Simple dwellings crowded the bank of the Trinity River which separated Dallas from Oak Cliff. Houses in The Bottom were frequently affected by the flooding of the river. While trying to make ends meet, a handful of residents in The Bottom responded to an evangelistic invitation to gather for worship. A small group met from house to house. Out of this spiritual hunger arose a worshiping congregation called Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church. Within two decades of its founding, Golden Gate Baptist and Greater Shiloh Baptist came out of Shiloh and were established in the same geographical area. For one hundred years, Shiloh told its story by word of mouth and short rehearsals during observance of the church’s anniversary. Not uncommon for many churches, Shiloh did not have a substantial written history. The author, having been a member of this congregation during a portion of his college years, decided to provide a fuller account of this congregation’s story in celebration of its centennial in 2011. This book is a revision of the account produced for the church’s centennial. It records the joys and struggles of a small congregation that stayed in the same geographical area for over one hundred years, until it relocated to another area of the Oak Cliff neighborhood.
Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church

What’s inside


Chapter One



Chapter Three

The Significance of the Name Shiloh


And more ...


Chapter Two

Shiloh’s Beginning in 1911


Chapter Four

Pastors Who Have Led Shiloh


Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church is an amazing community of faith that has impacted the lives of God’s people since 1911. From the founding of this church, ministry efforts, missions, and outreach have been major parts of its identity. Shiloh was a staple institution in The Bottom and continues to carry out its ministry in its current location on Illinois Avenue in Dallas, Texas.

It was while Shiloh was in The Bottom that we came to know Dr. Thomas Spann. As an undergraduate student at Bishop College, Dr. Spann was an active member of Shiloh. During his time with the church, he exprienced the friendliness, care, and lasting love of congregational members. Dr. Spann remained a faithful servant until he relocated to pursue a graduate degree at Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey. Shiloh has kept a great love and affection for Dr. Spann and was godly proud when he returned to the Dallas area to earn his Doctor of Ministry degree from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University.

As I look back to the time when I was called to be the servant leader of Shiloh, I knew the congregation was a great group of people, but I really did not know of the significance and might of this beloved church. As I got to know the history of Shiloh, the pastors who got their start here, and the ministry impact in the community, I was even more honored to be its spiritual leader. With this newfound knowledge of the impact Shiloh made in The Bottom, I earnestly prayed, asking God to show me where to start.

As I opened my heart to hear God’s Word, ….

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A Note from the Author

A centennial birthday brings an extra sense of excitement. Family and community members gather with a heightened sense of joy and reverence to celebrate the birthday of a one-hundred-year-old relative or friend. There is the idea that the honoree had to go through a lot to make it to one hundred. The blessing of long life is acknowledged at a birthday celebration, but behind the blessing is a lifetime of memories, struggles, and strategies for survival. It is not uncommon to hear that a one-hundred-year-old person has seen many changes in society. Likewise, the community assumes that there is a fund of wisdom that has been distilled over the years, and that the centenarian is a proverbial fount of wisdom.

The excitement over a person turning one hundred is carried over to institutions, particularly churches. Church members and pastors enter the joy of a church turning one hundred. They, too, know that church mem- bers who have long tenure have seen many changes, conflicts, challenges, and blessings. It is right, good, and a joyful thing for present and former church members and friends to gather to celebrate God’s blessings.

As a friend of Shiloh Baptist Church, I am delighted to be able to share ……

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Dr. Thomas W. Spann has authored several books.

Click on each title to read more and to place your order.

Memoir Front Cover I Went To Bishop College
Front Cover - A Light in the Bottom
A Girl Dreams of Preaching
Saying Amen through Advent
New edition - Church In the Mirror
The Learning and The Burning
40MidWeek-Meditations - Cover
A Necessary Transition
Cover I Feel My Help Coming
First Sunday - Front Cover
When Theological Reflection Goes to Church
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