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Church History
This history was gathered from Church records, members of the congregation and Sister Geneva Morgan, who was the last surviving charter member of Houston Primitive Baptist Church.

Each of us have our own special thoughts and memories that we treasure. With this thought in mind and God’s help and guidance we will attempt to relive some of the early history of the Houston Primitive Baptist Church. Our desire to have the present and future generations remember the Church and all the loving members who were inspired to establish this home for God’s children.
Times were difficult during the war years. To find work many were forced to leave their love ones, their homes and their Churches and move to Houston. There were members from Fellowship Church, Enon Church, Hale Center Church, Blossom Prairie Church, and a few others.
Contact was made with Elder J.P. Dale of Fellowship Church, Warren, Texas and he agreed to meet with them one Sunday a month. Although they did not have a church building, this did not stop them from meeting. They first began meeting in the home of Brother Ben and Sister Radie Laird, and continued to meet there for some time. It wasn’t long before they began to talk about constituting their own church here in Houston. It seemed like things just began to fall into place.
Arrangements were made for the small group to meet on Sunday morning, July 24, 1943 at the Betsy Ross Elementary School on Jensen Drive. Services were held by Elder J.P. Dale. Having asked for ordained help, to constitute a church, Elder J.P. Dale, Elder L.D. Hill, Elder Woodrow Wilson and Brother Clint Wilson met with this small group of Christians that afternoon at the school. The following members joined that evening and became the charter members of the Houston Primitive Baptist Church. They were few in number, but all were glad to have a Church.
Sister Fannie Forbes
Sister Bertie McWilliams
Brother J.N. McWilliams
Brother O.A. Cottrell
Brother Starkey Hargrove
Brother A.I. Aldridge
Sister Louise A. Bridges
Sister Geneva Morgan
Sister Addie Kirby
Sister Lorraine Osborn
Brother Jesse Osborn
Brother T.B. Griffin
Sister Neta Griffin
Little Vine Church
Hale Center Church
Hale Center Church
Hale Center Church
Pleasant Grove Church
Rock Springs Church
Rock Springs Church
Enon Church
Philadelphia Church
Blossom Prairie Church
Blossom Prairie Church
Fellowship Church
Fellowship Church
Austin, Texas
Hale Center, Texas
Hale Center, Texas
Hale Center, Texas
Jasper, Texas
Cartwright, Texas
Cartwright, Texas
Queen City, Texas
Caradan, Texas
Milton, Texas
Milton, Texas
Warren, Texas
Warren, Texas
Houston Primitive Baptist Church met at this location for about three months until October 23, 1943. At that time the rent was $6 a month and it was to increase to $8. There was discussion as to whether to accept the increase or move to another location. It was decided to appoint a committee to purchase a lot on which to build a church building. By February of 1944 two lots had been purchased on Avenue S and the deed was presented to the church. The following March it became necessary to move the meeting place from Betsy Ross Elementary to the Lubbock Elementary on Sampson Street off Harrisburg Street, until a church building could be built on the lots on Avenue S.
Elder J.P. Dale in the meantime moved to Dallas. He continued serving the church one Sunday a month. He did this for about a year and a half, as he had to travel between Dallas and Houston by train. He then asked the church to consider calling Elder Woodrow Wilson as pastor. Elder Dale’s description of Elder Wilson was “He is one able minister”. The congregation didn’t think they could give up Elder Dale after all he was there when the church was constituted. The church finally honored his request and on January 12, 1945 called Elder Woodrow Wilson as pastor and he accepted.
In June of 1946 it was voted to sell the lots on Avenue S that were purchased in February 1944, because they had become an undesirable location to build. The sale of the lots was finalized in August of 1946 and discussion was heard concerning a change of meeting place from the Lubbock Elementary to the Ephesus Primitive Baptist Church on Cordell Street. The move was agreed upon by all. Beginning in September 1946 services were held on Sunday afternoon on Cordell Street following the Sunday morning services of Ephesus Church. This was the meeting place for the church for two years. In September of 1948 it was decided that the church should have its own building.
The deacons then found a dwelling at 502 Zoe Street in the Denver Harbor neighborhood just north of Lyons Avenue. The house was purchased in October of 1948. It was in bad need of repair, but with the help of all the members that was done. Partitions were removed to make a large room to meet in. The men did repair and painted the outside while the women papered the inside walls. And for the first time in five years of existence the Houston Primitive Baptist Church had purchased and was using its own building. I remember this building because the bathroom was on the west side of this large room. It had old fixtures and as a small boy I remembered the faucets making a noise when turned on. On one Sunday Elder Wilson was making a statement during a sermon about when Gabriel blows his horn and some kid turned on the faucet and this strange sound came out and of course as a young kid hair stood up on my neck. They may have sat on homemade benches and folding chairs, with Elder Wilson standing behind a homemade pulpit, but as one member put it “It was a beautiful thing”. There was no baptistery in this building so new members were taken to Warren, Texas to be baptized in Horsepen Creek. The actual dedication of the building was held on the fourth Sunday, 26th of June 1949. While in this building Ephesus Church asked and received permission to use the building on the third Sunday and Saturday night before. In the next three years the building was constantly in need of repair and upkeep.
It was in November of 1953 that a committee was appointed to check into the possibility of building a new church building. In January of 1954 the committee reported that the new building should be postponed to a later date. On October 23, 1954 it was decided to recall the building committee and try to find a new location for the church and sell the present property. By the 22nd of January the committee reported they had found a buyer for the church property on Zoe Street. They also had found a lot at 6602 Kittredge, on the corner of Camway that was suitable for a new church building. It was necessary to borrow $8,000 in order to purchase materials for the new building. We borrowed the money from Jack Glenn who was a brother to Brother Horace Glenn of Ephesus Primitive Baptist Church. When the sale of the property at 502 Zoe Street was complete, the material was purchased. The material was from a building that had been torn down. Elder Leon Read from Macedonia Primitive Baptist Church brought the material and being a carpenter stayed and with the help of the deacons and a few others built the church building. A few of those were Deacons, T.D. Laird, Jess Osborne, L.M. Thornton and Earl Morgan, Brother Horace Glenn of Ephesus Church and too many others to name. During the building of the church Elder Leon Read and Brother Horace Glenn stayed in the home of Brother T.D. and Sister Jean Laird. Elder Read worked on the building all day. He would go and rest a little when the others got off from their regular jobs and then go back with them to the church building and work until late. It took several months to complete the work doing it this way but it was all a labor of love.
A wonderful time was had by all during the time the new church building was being built on Kittridge Street. The small group that began to meet in 1943 had grown in number and in love. All worked together toward a new home for the Lords people. The building was finally completed in August 1955. It was decided to have a three day meeting for the dedication of the new church. The dedication was held the fifth Sunday in October 1955 starting on Friday night.
The Lord blessed the church while we were on Kittredge and we saw the church increase in membership the ten or eleven years we were there. In conference on September 21, 1957 we voted to build a kitchen on the back of the lot. By December of 1957 the kitchen was begun and it was about this time that Elder Woodrow Wilson asked the church not to call him as pastor the next time. He was pastor of several churches in the Beaumont area. This was Fellowship at Warren, Tex., Paradise at Port Neches, Tex., and Dry Prong in Dry Prong, Louisiana. During these years we also had Elders I.W. Gilliam, E. D. Ramey, L. R. Ethridge, and Robert L. (Bob) Blevins serving the church different Sundays. For the next year the church partially honored Elder Wilson’s request by calling Elder Charles Rose as pastor and Elder Wilson as co-pastor. The kitchen was completed in April of 1958. This kitchen was for cooking and did not have a dining room. It was built with the idea of expanding it later with a dining room. There was a serving table built against the windows that raised up to access the serving tables. We had tables built between and around some of the many pine trees we had on the lot. If it rained we ate in the church. During those years I do not remember much rain at meetings. We never did get a dining room built onto that kitchen before we sold the property to move to our present location on Keyport. At that time we were in the Bithynia Association and we hosted the Association in August that year. Elder Charles Rose served as pastor until February 1962. We then called Elder Robert L. (Bob) Blevins as pastor. Elder Bob Blevins served until October 1963. Elder Charles Rose was again called to serve as pastor February1964. We then began talking about moving the church as the neighborhood had become an undesirable location for the church. A committee was appointed to find a new location for the church. Elder Rose served as pastor until January 1966 at which time he had moved to Sattler, Texas.
The church then called Elder Floyd O’Neal as pastor in January 1966. A building was located and the negotiations began on selling our property and buying the new location. The church property was then sold and we moved to the churches present location, 917 Keyport in the summer of 1966. When we sold the building the people that bought it wanted the benches or they would not sign the deal. They also wanted the pulpit, communion table and two chairs, as well as the curtains for the baptistery. Well we finally agreed to leave all but the pulpit, two chairs and the communion table.
A Boy Scout troop had met in this building and had a shooting range where the baptistery is now. So on Saturday night before the first Sunday service brother Frank McMillan and brother Tommy Lankford swept up sawdust and 22 shells where we wouldn’t slip down. The new location on Keyport did not have air condition or heat. There were no benches even though this building had been used as a church several years prior There were homemade benches in the rear building that they had divided up for Sunday school rooms. So we moved those benches into the church. The shooting range was remodeled by Brother Frank McMillan and Sonny Townsend who was Ruth Townsend’s husband, along with others. They framed and fiber glassed the baptistery. For cooling we opened the windows and had a large box fan to blow across the congregation. The Elders sweated a lot and we dodged June bugs. The first order of course was to get air and heat. In a few months the units were purchased and installed. A few years later brother Frank McMillan found some church benches at a local church that were buying new ones. We bought these that were solid oak benches. When cleaned up and oiled they looked new. We finally got rid of the homemade benches. We tore out some walls in the rear build and made a kitchen. There was one restroom on the North side of the kitchen in a side room. These side rooms ran the length of the building on both sides.
Elder Floyd O’Neal was an able minister, loved by all. He served the church and Gods people until his untimely death in October 1968. We again called Elder Charles Rose as pastor in February 1969. He served until January 1970 when Elder Virgil Stanaland was called as pastor. This able minister served until January 1974, when he asked not to be called because of his age and traveling from Nacogdoches each month. Elder Frank McMillan was called as pastor January 1974 and served the church ably for eleven years until January 1985.
After we moved to the present location we have had many very able and blessed ministers preach at the Houston Primitive Baptist Church other than the pastors we have already mentioned and those later mentioned. We had several preachers that from time to time held regular Sunday appointments with us. I hope I will not miss any. The following ministers have preached here and some are still coming on regular appointments; Elder Leon Read, Elder U. G. Farquhar, Elder Gerald Read, Elder Truman Keel, Elder C.R. McDuffie, Elder Billy Mosley, Elder Anthony Blevins, Elder David Montgomery, Elder John P. (Pat) Young, and Elder Hulan Bass.
When we moved to 917 Keyport there were woods to the South where the shopping center stands today. Around July of 1974 we were approached by the builders of the shopping center to buy the church property. The square footage price was set so high they did not buy. They said they did not need it that bad and they built the center right up to our property line. There was a deep road ditch in front of the church and we tiled it to make more parking. We were all to meet at the church early one Saturday and install the tile. Well when we got there Brother Thornton was down in the ditch and had about three of the tile already set. He was a mechanic by trade, owning his own shop, but he was quiet a worker around the church. There were a number of large oak trees on the property and over the years we have had to cut most of them. He probably did most of that with a little help from the rest
Sister Lorraine Osborn had passed away before Brother Jesse Osborn moved to Sattler, Texas. When he moved back to Houston he rented the rooms on the South side of the kitchen to live for awhile for the cost of the utilities. How many remembered that brother Jesse and Elder Raymond Lee were half brothers? There is a lot of kin in the Primitive Baptist Churches. We had remodeled the kitchen a few times and never could keep the side rooms from leaking and that would undo our work .In 1976 we borrowed $12,000 to remodel the church and kitchen. We replaced roofs on both buildings, lowered the ceiling in the church, carpet for the church, and cushions for the solid oak benches, and painted the kitchen inside. We also poured a walk between the church and kitchen with an aluminum roof over that and a concrete porch on the front of the church. We bought material and brother Harry Wells and brother J.W. Helms built the kitchen cabinets we have today. What amazed me was they cut it all out before they started to put them together. Brother Harry was a cabinet maker for the school district and brother Helms built homes for a living.
Then about 10 years later, several remodel jobs to the kitchen, we decided to take the side rooms off both sides. When we did that we lost the restroom and had to build new ones on the front of the kitchen. We went into debt again and borrowed $10,500. This was to remove the side rooms, repaint the inside and outside of the kitchen and build two restrooms on the front of the kitchen. During both of these remodeling projects church members did a lot of the labor which of course saved us a lot of money. It seemed like during all this work the church pulled closer together as a church body of God fearing people. The work was completed around the last of March 1987.
In January 1985 Elder Frank McMillan asked the church to call someone else as pastor. He said when we called him as pastor if he ever felt like the church needed to call another pastor he would tell the church. The church then called Elder J. A. Rowell in January 1985 and he served the church ably until January1987 when he asked the church to call someone else. At that time the church called Elder Jerry Cleburn. Elder Cleburn served from January 1987 to February 1999, a total of twelve years. In June of 1995 the church discontinued membership in the Bithynia Association. This was done after some months of discussion. Elder Cleburn was in declining health and said he should have stepped down a year before for the good of the church. The church then called Elder Mark D. Rowell in February 1999. He has served this church to this present time. We came to church one morning and found that someone had stolen the aluminum cover between the church and kitchen. The members got together and built the cover we have now.
You know it seems things go along for awhile and then something happens and the church comes together as a group and labors to get the job done and it brings us closer together each time. Like about June of 1995 we had to replace some siding on the North side of the church building. We all got out there and got the job done. Then in June of 2001 we had tropical storm Allison come through the Houston area and just stop. It flooded a lot of Houston including the area where the church is located. We received 14 to 15 inches of water in the church building. This ruined the carpet, and the benches. The kitchen being on blocks was spared. When we were able to get to the church we found that the oak benches were standing in water. They started coming apart. We thought we might be able to repair them, but when they started drying out they came apart more. We then checked around for used benches. Talked about repairing these or buying new ones. Brothers Joe Tyler and Max Lankford went to Port Arthur, Texas and found some new benches. Somewhere along the way Brother Joe was bitten by a brown recluse spider and had a nasty hole on his back. He always believed he picked it up in their warehouse. We settled on buying new benches after discussing what else we had to do. So while the new benches were being built the church came together with mops and brooms and cleaned the damage out of the church building. We had to cut out sheetrock and disinfect behind the walls. We hauled out the carpet and pad. We stacked the broken benches in the back of the church. We found out again we had a pretty good group of handymen and ladies as some of our older members were gone. A local church loaned us some folding chairs and we had our services right along. This did not affect our spirits in the service to the Lord. It took a little while but with patients and prayer we finally got everything back in order. We were thankful none of the members were flooded. Everyone pitched in to buy new benches. We were thankful and blessed to received donations from Grace PBC Houston, Canaan PBC Orange, Texas and Clinton PBC Clinton, Kentucky. We also received donations from different individuals from other churches.
When we get to the end of this History we look back. I can only look back a little over 50 years, and remember all the old saints that have passed from this life. I can say God has showered this church with many blessings. And we are all better persons having known them and the examples that they left for us to follow in our timely salvation. We also know without the Grace of God., we as a church would not be here today. We need to strive and pray that we will never do anything to cause any reproach to come upon the church. We all have our faults but we need to strive to treat our brothers and sisters in Christ with the utmost respect. Looking back through some hard times I see that they were all caused by individuals getting self in the way. Isn’t that the cause of most of the problems that come up in the House of the Lord? I can say that with the help of the Lord the church has been at peace for the last thirty five years. And that is a blessing sometime I think we take for granted. We need to give the Lord all the credit, praise and glory.
The following members have served as clerk of Houston Primitive Baptist Church:

Sister Fannie Forbes from 07-24-1943 to 01-24-1948
Sister Lorrain Osborn from 01-24-1948 to 01-26-1952
Brother Russell Milholen from 01-26-1952 to 01-21-1956
Brother Glenn Rowe from 01-21-1956 to 01-24-1959
Brother Frank McMillan from 01-24-1959 to 01-15-1966
Brother Archie Marze from 01-15-1966 to 01-10-1970
Brother Bobby Wacasey from 01-10-1970 to 01-15-1972
Sister Rhoda Mullins from 01-15-1972 to 01-17-1976
Brother John P. (Pat) Young from 01-17-1976 to 01-15-1977
Brother Max Lankford from 01-15-1977 to 01-24-1993
Brother Tommy Atchley from 01-24-1993 to present

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