Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | August 8, 2018

John Bisagno, a Truly Remarkable Man!

A Memorable Life

Sunday, August 5, 2018 our beloved former pastor, John Bisagno, went home to be with the Lord. We cannot even dimly understand the wonder and joy he has been experiencing these last several days. I have no doubt some of the first words he heard from our Lord were “Well done thou good and faithful servant!”

It would be difficult, to nearly impossible, to estimate the depth of the contribution he made to our family as a pastor and friend. His ministry, in combination with the music ministry of Gerald Ray, was an essential part of our family life for literally decades. We felt privileged to be members of First Baptist Church, Houston and a part of the choir.

Our worship experience at First Baptist, Houston, set a standard of Christ honoring excellence that we have not found since. Our children grew up in that church and my daughter’s wedding was conducted by Brother John and our son’s wedding was conducted by Gerald Ray.

We joined First Baptist when it was still located in downtown Houston and vividly remember the old building and the tall office building that was used for the Sunday School classes. We remember climbing the stairs to the seventh floor because the waiting time to take one of the two elevators was just too long to get to class on time. All of these memories combine to create a storehouse of great blessings.

A Family Decision

My company had transferred me back to Houston after a few years out of town. We had sold our house in Austin and had two weeks to vacate which meant we had to find an already built house in an area we liked; we found one that seemed to fit and got moved in as required. We had been members of Hyde Park Baptist Church in Austin and started looking for a church in the Houston area we could attend.

Brother John’s sermons were being broadcast live on TV in those days and we started watching his sermons; needless to say all three children and their parents were impressed so the decision was made to visit First Baptist, Houston. It didn’t take long for the whole family to decide this was where we wanted to go to church in spite of the distances involved.

Shortly after joining First Baptist we had a personal visit from Brother John in our home; this was to be one of only two times a senior pastor ever visited our home; the second time was again Brother John on the death of our grandson, Brent; Brother John was there to help in both the good times and the difficult ones.

The Vision and the Move

When Brother John was called to First Baptist Houston it was a dying church with a dwindling membership located at a busy corner in downtown Houston; the church had made arrangements with local office buildings to use their parking garages for church attendees on Sunday mornings. Brother John’s dynamic preaching changed all that and people, like us, started coming to First Baptist from all over Houston to hear Brother John preach the Word of God.

It did not take very long for the leadership of First Baptist to develop a vision for growth that included relocating the church to its present location on West Loop at Katy Freeway; needless to say the congregation was enthusiastic about the idea of having our very own church building with parking immediately available. As the plans and progress developed, the entire church membership was getting very excited about the move and was looking forward to the new location.

As the time for the move approached, the congregation was asked to volunteer some time to help get the final work done; I remember the request going out for volunteers with vacuum cleaners to come to the new building on a Saturday morning to clean the carpets that had just been laid down so the chairs might be installed the next week.

I joined with many others and have vivid memories of using our vacuum cleaner in the huge Worship Center to clean the carpets before any chairs were installed; that was a lot of carpet! It was a striking sight, that huge space with a carpeted contoured floor and not one chair! The following week the chairs were installed and the Worship Center looked as it looks now.

Brother John preached his first sermon in the new building; we were there and just as excited as everyone else to finally be in our new church home.

And it Came to Pass

Over the following years we accumulated a vast storehouse of memories about our experiences at First Baptist Church including Brother John playing the trumpet. I was ordained a deacon by Brother John and taught a Sunday School class while my wife served in several capacities including Sunday School Director. We both wound up in the choir under Gerald Ray and have totally great memories of singing a wealth of beautiful Christian music and hymns accompanied by the pipe organ, elegantly played by John Hemmenway.

Our daughter was the first one to get involved with pageant followed by my wife and finally me; pageant had been at Jones Hall but was moved to First Baptist where it continued for many years as a classic Christmas event in Houston. While participating in pageant was extremely demanding it was also very rewarding; we felt saturated with Christmas good will and joy as we spent the necessary hours in preparation for the many performances that followed.

There were many happy years and countless memorable experiences that followed at First Baptist for the entire family. Eventually the time came when Brother John announced his retirement and we knew that an era was ending. It was Brother John and Gerald Ray that had been the catalyst for the quality of worship at First Baptist and we believed that once they left change would be inevitable.

By that time the children had grown up and had moved on to begin their lives with families of their own. My wife and I were getting older too and were having a bit more difficulty doing those things which had previously come so easily. We made the decision when Brother John retired we would try and find a church closer to our suburban home so the travel would be less of an issue.

We have always rejoiced in our experience at First Baptist, Houston and felt a sense of gratitude to our Lord for giving us the opportunity for such blessings. The memories are still vivid and continue to bring joy to our lives as we remember those times!

Brother John’s important role in the life of our family will never be forgotten!



  1. David, What a joy to read your commentary this morning! It is a trip down memory lane for the Hastings family. We don’t have the many decades of memories the Bower family claims but the specifics and the wonderful quality are identical. Thank you, thank you for writing about Dr B ( my preferred name for Brother John).

    Currently the Hastings clan is in beautiful Aspen, all 12 of us, one more celebration of our 50th anniversary. As we read of Dr B’s home going we have remembered many of the same precious memories you just wrote about. We know we were blessed to have been under the ministry of Dr B and Gerald. It enriched our hearts and minds for a lifetime.

    Blessings to you and Adele!! Love…Elaine

    Liked by 1 person

    • My memories of First Baptist still bring smiles and chuckles to me as I reflect on the blessings-filled times we had there!


  2. My friend, Patricia and I attended several of Bro. John’s Brown Bag lunches when we worked in downtown Houston. We enjoyed hearing him preach the Word of God.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wonderful memories. I always appreciated how Brother John preached and taught us from the book of Revelation; I learned so much from him.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your mother and I were just discussing how glad we were that you and your brothers had the opportunity to be raised under Brother John’s preaching. It was a blessing filled time for us all!


  4. Dr. John Bisagno’s preaching on television, when I had a newborn, was what brought me into full Christian membership. I was raised in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and attended Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church here in Houston. I would say that I was an actual Christian, but my soul was not fully touched until I heard Dr. Bisagno, What a celebration there must be in heaven right now!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Lord used that servant in an amazing way; so many of us owe him so much!


  5. David,

    I used to watch him on t.v. too. He was very special!

    Best always,


    Liked by 1 person

    • Greg,
      How good to hear from you, I hope all is well! Yes, Brother John meant a great deal to many of us!
      Best regards,


  6. Hi David,

    Years ago we had some dear friends that lived in Katy and were members of 1st Baptist Church. We attended church with them a number of times, so I had the awesome privilege of sitting under Pastor Bisagno’s preaching! Always such a blessing… Just like I always felt about your teaching… How I praise the Lord for all the wonderful, annointed preachers & teachers HE has blessed me with over the years! 😊
    Anyway…I also purchased some of his books over the years, so I learned so much from this wonderful man of God!
    🙏All Is well with you and yours..Jan Olmsted

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Jan,
      We can all be grateful for the wonderful brothers and sisters the Lord has brought into our lives! What a blessing to know we will all rejoice in the Lord together some day.
      Your brother in Christ,


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