NewsBlack History Month


Oldest black church in Bryan-College Station faces modern challenges

For Black History Month, 15ABC is sharing the story of the oldest Black church in Bryan and the challenges it now faces.
Posted at 7:47 PM, Feb 13, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-13 20:47:44-05

BRYAN, Texas — Shiloh Baptist Church has been in Bryan for 160 years. It's the oldest black church in BCS.

  • The first church building was built in 1880. It has been rebuilt and remodeled throughout the years but has always stayed on the same plot of land.
  • It was first named The Bryan Baptist Church Colored, then changed its name to Shiloh Baptist Church in 1885.
  • Pastor Carl Idlebird says they've been struggling with attendance since COVID-19, when they started streaming their services online.


In the twilight of the setting sun, this steeple reflects history.

“Shiloh was established in around 1860," said Pastor Carl Idlebird.

The first stones to build the church were laid in December 1880. Five years later, the church’s name changed from The Bryan Baptist Church Colored to Shiloh Baptist Church. Since then, generations after generations have sat in these pews.

“I for instance, was born and raised in this church. I've been here all my life," Pastor Idlebird said.

Shiloh Baptist Church is the oldest black church in Bryan-College Station. Pastor Idlebird said the history of the church is really a history of the members.

"The resiliency of the members, how strong the membership is, and how we don't intend to let Shiloh die. We like to see Shiloh thrive and continue to grow," Pastor Idlebird said.

This historic church is now facing modern challenges.

“For COVID, we broadcasted, we televised, we went on Facebook, and some of the membership has not come back because they can still watch the service on Facebook," Pastor Idlebird said.

But not members like Lawrence Carter.

“I've been here with Shiloh coming up on 32 years," Carter said.

For Carter, the church feels like home.

“You get something more from it when you're here," Carter said.

A community with shared experiences some of which go back to the beginning of the church and continue today.

“Discrimination even when I was in the Navy, did better was there so it really doesn't matter where you are in the country. Itself. It's still there."

“I think that it brings us together closer because we know what it feels like. And we learn from other people's experiences how to deal with it better.”

It’s a fellowship you can’t get from streaming the service online and what Pastor Idlebird hopes will bring people back to the hymnals rather than the YouTube playbacks.