Ministry in Bellaire
The church was first incorporated as a non-profit legal entity under the name of Bellaire Baptist Church. On February 11, 1940, thirty-four people met in Condit Elementary School in Bellaire to officially establish the church organization, and on October 7, 1940, the church was officially accepted as a member of Union Baptist Association, which is a local association of Southern Baptist churches in Houston.
After a brief period of conducting its services in the school, the church moved to Bellaire City Hall, and then for a time to a one-room building at 4912 Locust Street. As the church grew in membership, the location was again changed in 1948 to a white frame church building at 4610 Bellaire Boulevard. This building and its contents were
destroyed by fire on May 28, 1951, and the church established its operation in Horn Elementary School until a new church facility could be built. On December 21, 1952,
the church moved into its new brick building at the site currently owned by Congregation Brith Shalom, a Jewish Synagogue. During that time the church began to
experience significant growth, as Bellaire became a popular residential community on the outskirts of the rapidly expanding Houston.
In 1959 the church congregation voted to change its name to First Baptist Church of Bellaire and the legal corporation was revised accordingly. At that time, the church also
purchased new property across the street and there constructed a three story educational building and an associated gymnasium, moving into the building in November of 1960. This address at 4601 Bellaire Boulevard became the location for over forty years. A 550-seat sanctuary was added in 1975 after the congregation had faithfully worshiped for fifteen years seated on folding chairs in the gymnasium facility.
These facilities remained substantially unchanged and the Sunday attendance remained stable (ranging between about 150 to 300 people) during the remaining decades of the 1970’s, 80’s, and 90’s. In 1984, the church opened a school that initially operated under the auspices of the church, then subsequently incorporated as a 501c3 nonprofit organization, controlled by the church, under the name of Bellaire Christian Academy.
For over 65 years of the church’s existence, its ministry focused on the City of Bellaire with sixteen full-time pastors serving the congregation. These great men of God are worthy of ”double honor” as they each served as our “pastor and teacher” and “directed the affairs of the church well” (I Timothy 5:17).
The New Millennium
In 2005 the church called Dr. Johnny Teague as Pastor with the course already set to move our ministry away from the Bellaire area. The events leading to this decision took hold as the church focused on God’s direction for the new millennium in light of both its ministry opportunities and the condition of its facilities on Bellaire Boulevard.
A dramatic new vision for the ministry of the church had begun to unfold under the ministry of Rev. Duane Miller. This new vision for ministry turned the church’s view from the neighborhoods which had formed the immediate surroundings in Bellaire and instead towards the entire Houston metropolitan area. A key part of the church’s new vision of ministry comes from the increasing ethnic diversity of the church membership, and the active involvement of people from throughout the metropolitan region in the ministries of the church.
With the discovery in 2002 of major structural damage by termites to the gymnasium building, the decision was made to place the operation of the school in a hiatus at the end of the 2002-03 school year. This decision left the church free to determine whether to remain at the same location and rebuild the aging facilities, or instead, to move to another location from which the new vision would take root. On August 20, 2003 the church congregation voted to place the property at 4601 Bellaire Boulevard on the market. Through a series of events that were marked by God’s hand, the property in Bellaire was sold and nearby property at 4669 Southwest Freeway was bought at a value substantially below market price upon a decision by the the church congregation on July 18, 2004. Following this move, the 4601 Bellaire Blvd. property was occupied by Crosspoint Church, an extended campus ministry of West University Baptist Church. This continued use of the Bellaire property for the glory of God was a specific answer to the church’s prayers.
Between September 1, 2004 and September 27, 2007 the church owned and operated the mid-rise commercial office building located on the south (inbound) service road of U.S. 59 Southwest Freeway, near the intersection of U. S. 59 and I-610 West Loop freeway. During this time the name of the church was carefully and prayerfully evaluated, since the church had relocated outside of the City of Bellaire. On January 6, 2005 the church voted to adopt a registered DBA of “The Church at the Cross” and to use this name as the publicly identified name of the organization. However, the legal name of the church corporation remained “First Baptist Church of Bellaire” for several more years.
In line with the church’s vision for reaching the world for Christ, the multi-floor facility on the Southwest Freeway provided space for several large meeting rooms, allowing the church to provide space for several ethnic and foreign language congregations to meet. Of note was the wonderful fellowship enjoyed during this time with the Ethiopian congregation called “The Ethiopian Evangelical Church.” And to the delight of the church, a small Korean congregation under the leadership of Pastor James Kim became affiliated with Church at the Cross. Upon the sudden death of “Brother Kim” in May of 2006, shortly after Church at the Cross had ordained him to the ministry, the Korean membership chose to remain a part of Church at the Cross. With these wonderful experiences of diversity, the church’s understanding of God’s calling to reach all ethnic people and races of the world took a major step forward. During this time, the ministry to people in prison became an important part of the church focus under the leadership of Rev. Bill Hays, including the active involvement of past offenders into our church community. Reverend Hays would later become the Associate Pastor.
On September 11, 2005, the church called as our Pastor the Rev. Johnny Teague – a man diverse in his life experiences, with a variety of business degrees, work experience, and even a time as professional football quarterback on his resume. The refreshing and challenging admonishment of “Brother Johnny” to live each day in holiness and righteousness brought the church to a new level of spiritual vitality and excitement. His winning smile and loving heart for all people, and in particular his own life example of godliness initiated a Holy Spirit empowered transformation of the church that continues to unfold. And to complete his preparation to serve as our Pastor, he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Ministries from Southwestern Theological Seminary in April of 2009 (this was the first graduating class requiring a full dissertation for completion of the Doctor of Ministries degree)
With this new focus on eternal things above temporal things, the church began to realize the extent of resources and energy that were being invested in the “business” side of owning and operating a commercial office building. On July 9, 2006 the church congregation made the decision to sell the office building on Southwest Freeway and relocate the church to another part of Houston. Through a truly miraculous process, the building was sold in September of 2006 and the church moved forward in its vision to reach out to the entire Houston region with the message of Christ’s love and salvation.
A New Beginning
In April of 2007, Church at the Cross began its new ministry in West Houston by relocating to the Westchase District, one the fastest growing areas in the region and positioned on the edge of the “Energy Corridor”. Sunday worship services were initially conducted within the facilities of Westchase Tinseltown movie theater that was at the time located at Richmond/Westpark and Beltway 8/Sam Houston Tollway. When the theater site was sold for redevelopment for the property as a major office complex, the church temporarily relocated its Sunday worship services to the cafeteria of Alief Middle School at the end of 2008.
During this time, the active membership began to see a dramatic shift to newer and younger people with a striking blend of ethnic backgrounds. Our new area of ministry in Alief/Westchase has diverse communities with the existing spectrum of ethnic, religious, and socio-economic demographics as or more diverse than any other location in the region.
On the 30th of November, 2007 our commitment to a new beginning in Alief/Westchase/West Houston was solidified by the purchase of property at 3835 S. Dairy Ashford Street on the edge of the Shadow Lake residential development, directly adjacent to the Westpark Tollway. Construction of the new church facility at this location began in June of 2009 and was completed in April 2010. Services and ministry began at the new church facilities on Dairy Ashford Road at the Westpark Tollway beginning in May 2010, and a banner displaying the slogan “Come Just as You Are!” was hung on the front of the building. The people of the Alief/Westchase community immediate responded and the growth over the first year has increased the average attendance to over 300 people every Sunday morning. Church at the Cross has found its new home!
As strong and consistent as our over 65 year history was in the Bellaire community, Church at the Cross has its eyes set on the future. We know that the blessing of the Lord Jesus Christ will be increasingly evident through our steps of faith. Our commitment is to see the vision fulfilled through a multi-ethnic ministry to the whole Houston metropolitan region, and even the whole world. We eagerly continue down the path God has placed before us, and we continually strive to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ in all that occurs within our ministry. One thing we are certain of is that The Church at the Cross will be known for believing God and his written Word, seeking to know and serve Jesus Christ, and living life in the power of the Holy Spirit.