At least 14 charter members founded this church in the Tarkington's Prairie community about 1870. Land was deeded in 1878 for a combination Baptist church and Masonic Hall structure. That year a two-story building was erected, with the second floor housing the Masonic Lodge and the church on the first floor. Many early church members were also active in the Lodge. D. D. Forman was a master Mason and the first church pastor from 1874 to 1876 and again in 1882. In the early years pastors were elected from the congregation members. Worship services were held once or twice a month, usually on Saturdays. Meeting of Days, later called revivals, were held at the church building. In 1908 the Ryan Cemetery was deeded to the Rural Shade Baptist Church by Washington Berry. Located five miles south, the church held ownership to the land until 1989, when it was transferred to the Ryan Cemetery Association. Since its founding, the congregation has continuously supported a variety of Christian programs for its members, as well as outreach mission work in domestic and foreign fields.
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