In the late 1920s, a group of about four or five Christians that migrated to Houston, Texas, came up with the idea that a Church of Christ congregation was needed in the Black community. This small band of Christians started this congregation by holding worship services in various member homes in the city’s Third and Fourth Ward sections. As the congregation grew, worship services were moved to local neighborhood restaurants.
Fifth Ward Church of Christ History
Heights Church of Christ agreed to sponsor a series of gospel tent meetings in the local Black community preached by Evangelist, Brother Marshall Keeble. These meetings resulted in several baptisms into the body of Christ. Because they were so successful, the Heights congregation hired Brother Keeble to perform another series of tent meetings, but this time at the corner of Waco Street and Lyons Avenue in the Fifth Ward section of the city. After many other tent meetings held at this corner, the first Church of Christ congregation in a Black community in Houston, Texas was established.
With the members baptized at the tent meetings and those that placed membership from other sister congregations, this new congregation began with approximately 81 members. The First Church of Christ was the congregation’s original name before renaming to the Fifth Ward Church of Christ.
1940The Heights Church of Christ continued financially and spiritually supporting the Fifth Ward Church until 1943. Because there was little money, Brother T. H. York, the first minister, donated his salary to purchase the land on the corner of Stonewall and Waco streets. Recognizing a worship building was needed, Brother Emerson Woodard, a well-known Houston architect, and his wife, Sister Marie Woodward from the Heights congregation, donated the money and services to build our first sanctuary. The congregation quickly outgrew the building, and a new sanctuary was built around 1940 using the original building for living quarters for the minister. Since 1940, we have continued to grow our membership, requiring us to make two more prominent sanctuaries, one in 1947 and one in 1971, and expanding our current worship building.
The Annual National Lectureship among Black Churches of Christ was first suggested by the late Brother R. N. Hogan in 1942, the congregation’s fourth minister on leave from the Figueroa Church of Christ in Los Angeles, California. The initial purpose of the lectureship was to synchronize both the preaching and teaching of New Testament doctrine and foster a means of fellowship for preachers attending. Two years later, the first National Lectureship was held in 1945 at the East Seventh Street congregation in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. In 1947, the Fifth Ward Church of Christ hosted the National Lectureship in our worship building.
As the Heights Church of Christ supported us, we were instrumental in establishing several Houston area sister congregations: Conroe, Fidelity, Highland Heights, Kashmere Garden, Missouri City, North Houston, North Wayside, Studewood, Sugar Land, Third Ward, Trinity Gardens, and in Louisiana and Massachusetts.