Houston church celebrating 143 years

February 8, 2009 4:46:18 PM PST
A special celebration was held Sunday for a church that's served the Houston community for more than a century. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

The Antioch Missionary Baptist Church is celebrating its 143rd anniversary. The church off Clay and Shaw was the first African American church in the city.

The church's building in downtown was the first brick structure built and owned by African Americans in Houston.

Antioch was founded by a handful of former slaves just seven months after they were freed in Texas on June 19th 1865.

From meager beginnings, the church has grown exponentially over the years. One of its oldest members is Quentin Mease, 100.

"I would say its home," he told us. "A Christian home."

Mease joined the church in 1950 and says its members have been integral in the growth not just of the church but of Houston itself.

"They have a lot to live up to because of their forbearers who were some of the founding people here in Houston," Mease said.

As far as Antioch has come, church leaders say there is so much yet to be accomplished.

"We're just excited about moving forward in the Lord and about reaching out beyond these walls and being a blessing to this community and this city," said church pastor Otis Winkley.

Parishioners hope doing that will continue well beyond the next 143 years.

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