BETHEL’S FAMILY CHURCH HISTORY
1994 Bethel’s Family Baptist Church was organized on January 21, 1994, at Walter & Ruby August’s home with 13 people in attendance. On March 6, 1994, the first public worship service was held at the Huntington Place Apartments located at 6300 Dumfries in Southwest Houston. Within 6 months the church outgrew the Club House and moved the Sunday worship service to Elrod Elementary School. On December 24th the church held its first Birthday Party for Jesus. The real meaning of Christmas was shared, and over one hundred children were blessed with gifts of many kinds. The church closed out 1994 with 90 members.
1995 In February, the church signed a lease at 6162 Willowbend. The members worked hard remodeling an old meat market and turning it into a House dedicated to our Lord and Savior. In April, Brothers Clark Booker & Reginald Jones were appointed as the first deacons of the new church. In June, the church took 28 children and 8 adults to the National Baptist Youth Convention in Mobile, Alabama. And the Lord added to His church weekly.
1996 The church began a program called “The Fun In The Sun” where over 200 children participated in after school and summer activities. In July, our pastor was given a church facility in Northeast Houston. Our church helped launch its 1st Church, Green River Baptist Church, and Rev. Ronald Phillips was officially called to organize that church with Bethel’s Family blessings.
1997 Pastor August was called to Sugar Creek Baptist Church in Sugar Land to be their Missions Pastor under the leadership of Dr. Fenton Moorhead. Pastor August also continued to lead Bethel’s Family, and the church started a building fund that would be used to purchase land for new church facilities. Bethel’s Family launched its 2nd Church, Damascus Road Baptist Church, and Rev. David Collins was officially called to organize that church with Bethel’s Family blessings.
1998 In January, the church purchased 1½ acres of land located at 14421 Fonmeadow for $64,000. In March, the congregation walked from 6162 Willowbend to Foerster Elementary School (directly across from 14421 Fonmeadow) to commemorate the beginning of its worship and church services at the new location. In May, Bethel’s Family launched its 3rd Church, First Century Christian Church, and Rev. William O. Lumpkin was officially called to organize that church with Bethel’s Family blessings. In July, the church sent 60 middle and high school students to Victory Camp in Alvin, Texas. The church then had 335 members and an average worship attendance of 185, and the Lord continued to add to our number weekly. Pastor August participated in a medical and evangelistic mission trip to Kenya, Africa, and thousands were ministered to and many were saved.
1999 The Baptist Church Loan Corporation approved a loan amount of $800,000 that allowed Bethel’s Family to purchase its current location and complete the construction of the children’s educational wing, along with the worship center.
2000 In January, the church held the first worship service at the new location. The people continued working within the church and within the community. The new worship center was completed in September, and the church celebrated what the mighty Lord had done through a people with a mind to work. And the Lord continued adding to their numbers weekly.
2001 The church started many new ministries, and people were being saved and baptized. Bethel’s Family sent seven members for 15 days to Kenya, Africa, on their very first mission trip outside the United States. This team ministered to the orphanages that housed hundreds and hundreds of children who have lost their parents to sickness and other horrible situations that placed them on the streets. They provided medical supplies, clothing, and shoes to these precious little children who desperately needed encouragement from the Lord almighty.
2002 In February, Bethel’s Family launched its 4th Church, Kingdom Family Community Church, and Rev. Willie Davis was officially called to organize that church with Bethel’s Family blessings. The Baptist Church Loan Corporation approved a loan in the amount of $540,000 that allowed Bethel’s Family to purchase 7 additional acres of property and to construct a badly needed 225 space concrete parking lot. Pastor August led a missionary team to the Czech Republic, which included staff members from Windsor Village United Methodist Church, Sugar Creek Baptist Church, Love Center Christian Center and 10 members of Bethel’s Family. The Lord truly used them all to minister to the Chechens and Gipsy people over the course of a week, and many believed and were saved.
2003 The church continued growing very rapidly, and over 300 people were saved and baptized, and the Lord started sending more mature believers into the fold to assist in ministry. Bethel’s Family Youth Home-Groups were started, and Rev. Matthew Davis led 122 youth and 38 adults to Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee to minister in various churches and experience the Civil Rights struggles of the past.
2004 The church developed Life University Classes to continue training and maturing the believers in the faith. The new Children’s Ministry Building design was completed later in the year. The church now has over 800 families with an average worship attendance of 1500 people, forty-five different ministry opportunities, nine licensed ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and forty deacons. The Bethel’s Family in Southwest Houston continues to be a great vineyard that harvests the lost to Christ.
2005 Construction of the Children’s Ministry Building and installation of 225 additional parking spaces were started. The church has over 1200 families attending church regularly with an average Sunday morning worship attendance of approximately 1600 teenagers and adults plus an additional 250 children between the ages of six-months to 11 years in Children’s Church.
2006 Bethel’s Family experienced a tremendous increase in membership. Approximately 671 individuals became partners of Bethel’s Family, and approximately 170 partners were baptized. The construction of the Children’s Ministry building and the additional parking lot was completed. Upon completion of the Children’s Ministry building, Sunday School resumed. Over 450 children occupy the Children’s Ministry Building weekly. Bethel’s Family partners, under the leadership of Pastor Walter August, Jr., are determined to be a beacon of light in this community. The children and education are of the utmost importance to this great ministry, therefore, new entities were completed during the year such as the new state-of-the-art playground complex, while Bethel’s Family Christian Academy (Elementary) a new ministry was formed. In addition, the Children’s Ministry was enhanced with new scrap-booking, puppet, and children’s praise dance ministries. Also, other community outreach initiatives were created such as St. Thomas Bible Institute, Bethel’s Place, Community Youth Empowerment Center, the new legal ministry (Justice Speaks), and our newly formed Insurance ministry. The area food pantry and community service center, Heavenly Hands, relocated to a larger facility; and we obtained 5 additional acres of land for yet more ministry work. Bethel’s Family is on the move for God in a great way, and the best is still yet to come.
2007 Bethel’s Family experienced yet another exciting year of growth. We increased our number of partners in the ministry by 747, and witnessed 182 more baptisms. We averaged just over 3000 saints involved in some level of spiritual growth and community outreach each week. We utilized 23 major ministries, 12 licensed ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ and 55 deacons for serving the church body and community at large. Through our benevolent partnership with Heavenly Hands Food Pantry and Community Service Center, we continued to bless just over 3,200 men, women, boys and girls each and every month. In March, we partnered with Heavenly Hands and Bethels Place to sponsor several community wide events in support of harpist/composer Jeff Majors’ “National Blanket Drive for the Homeless.” Bethel’s Family collaborated with Bethel’s Place and Houston Community College to provide GED classes for approximately 80 students each week. Bethel’s Family’s visibility in the community continues to be realized in a great way through our ministers’ active participation in the Police and Clergy Team (PACT) community outreach initiative, and our married couple’s participation in the CARES Team program. Through these “pilot” programs, Bethel’s Family was able to co-labor with the City of Houston and Apartment Life in building up our community while transforming lives in the process. Bethel’s Family Christian Academy received 60 children (ages 4-11) into their 11-week summer educational program which opened on June 4th. Bethel’s Family has planted (2) Churches; Faith Covenant Community Church in April, and Bethel’s Family Fort Bend in August. God continues to do a great work in us and through us, but we realize that the best is still yet to be.
2008 Bethel’s Family experienced a History making year in 08’. By year’s end, a total of 1195 new partners had joined the church, and 184 baptisms had been done. We averaged just over 3300 saints involved in some level of spiritual growth and community outreach each week. We grew to 24 major ministries, 12 licensed ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and 62 deacons for serving the church body and community at large. Through our benevolent partnership with Heavenly Hands Food Pantry and Community Service Center, we blessed just over 3,500 men, women, boys and girls each and every month. As part of our International benevolence outreach in the 1st quarter of 2008, we donated $12,000 to the “National Association for the Prevention of Starvation” (NAPS) in support of their summer mission trip to Madagascar and Botswana. Bethel’s Family Christian Academy enrolled approximately 45 children (ages 4-11) in their summer education and development programs from June 9th through August 11th. On June 19th we purchased 4.46 acres of property at 12660 Sandpiper Street. The property acquisition is a major milestone in that it will serve as the future home of the “Bethel’s Place” Community Outreach and Development Center. This 65,000 sq. ft. complex will stay open 24/7, and go a long way towards revitalizing this part of Southwest Houston. On September 13th Hurricane Ike hit Houston and did major damage to our main sanctuary building and educational building. The Church body, Heavenly Hands and Bethel’s Place looked beyond the structural damages done to their facilities and quickly began a 7-day-a-week outreach operation servicing the community at large with water, ice, gas, food and personal hygiene items. Once the city recognized the yeoman’s work being done by the Bethel’s Family, Heavenly Hands and Bethel’s Place, material support began streaming in. Bethel’s Heavenly Hands soon was transformed into a major distribution center for the Southwest part of Houston; and in partnership with Bethel’s Place and the church, was able to distribute over $750,000.00 worth of goods and services to just over 50,000 individuals in just under a months time after Hurricane Ike. On October 6th the Adult Choir “Generation of Praise” competed it the “How Sweet The Sound” Regional Competition in search of the best Gospel Choir in the Nation. The event was sponsored by Verizon Wireless. Generation of Praise walked away with 3 of the 4 Awards / Honors that evening; Best Choir in the large choir category, V-cast Peoples Choice award, and the Houston Regional winners. They received a total cash prize of $15,000.00. The Adult Choir went on to represent our Region at the National Finale in Atlanta, Georgia, with 10 other choirs from across the Nation. At the Finale, Bethel’s Family received National exposure for our great outreach efforts and initiatives in meeting the needs of our community (our Jerusalem) and winning lost souls to Christ. On October 31st Bethel’s Family partnered with Bethel’s Place and Heavenly Hand to sponsor our Annual Fall Festival so that our children and their families would not have to go door-to-door getting candy from total strangers. The Festival was even bigger and better then before with over 5,000 people enjoying all the rides, games and food. People came from all over Houston, and a great time of joy, fun and laughter was experienced by all those that came on campus that day. And, to GOD be all the Glory.
2009 Was yet another History making year at Bethel’s Family. A record 1613 became members of our family in 2009, and another 181 were baptized. We are literally out of space for seating our church body and guest throughout the four services on Sunday morning. As a result of our spacing problem, we expanded to a fifth service on Sunday evening. We averaged just over 3,700 saints involved in some level of spiritual growth and community outreach each week during the year. We utilized 25 major ministries, 10 licensed ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and 83 deacons for serving the church body and community at large. During our Easter celebration, we conducted a family oriented Easter service and egg hunt on Good Friday. Over 17,000 plastic eggs filled with candy and hundreds of goodie bags were enjoyed by the 2,000 plus youth from the community that showed up. The Bethel’s Family Christian Academy experienced an increased enrollment of 54 children (ages 4-11) in their summer education and development program from June 8th through August 14th. Through our benevolent partnership with Heavenly Hands Food Pantry and Community Service Center, we served on average just over 6,500 men, women, boys and girls each and every month which is almost a 100 percent increase over last year. Heavenly Hands’ tireless service in meeting the basic needs of our community over the years resulted in their recognition by the Houston Food Bank as the 2009 “Bandini Award” recipient which recognizes the most outstanding member agency in the Greater Houston Metroplex. The Capital Campaign for building Bethel’s Place Community Development and Outreach Center was launched on March 15th. Our Campaign pledges totaled $1.9 Million. Plans continue “full speed ahead” to build the 65,000 square feet ($7.2 Million) Bethel’s Place campus in 2010. To that end, we conducted a ceremonial ground breaking on December 19, 2009. Our benevolent support of Bethel’s Place in 2009 result in: a Summer Camp and numerous Youth programs that touched the lives of over 500 kids from the community; an After-school program that provides educational assistance to 75 elementary school students each and every week; quarterly job fairs that average 150 participants; and, Free Tax services that assisted just over 600 families this year. In September, we conducted an interest meeting for our Mission Trip to Kenya, Africa; 6-19 June, 2010. The response was overwhelming. We presently have between 70 to 80 gifted saints and health professionals diligently preparing for this tremendous international outreach initiative. On October 31st, Bethel’s Family partnered with Bethel’s Place, Heavenly Hands and area vendors to sponsor our Annual Fall Festival so that our children and their families would not have to go door-to-door getting candy from total strangers. The Festival was the biggest ever with over 7,000 people enjoying all the rides, games and food. As in the past, people came from all over Houston, and a great time of fun, fellowship, excitement and laughter was experienced by all those that came on campus that day. Following the presentation of an extremely joyful and uplifting Christmas Musical by the Worship and Creative Arts Division, over 2,700 saints attended four dynamic, powerful and spirit filled New Year’s Eve services to usher in another Year for winning souls unto Christ. There are many exciting things on the horizon for Bethel’s Family as we continue to sacrifice and reach out into the local and international community. We as one body in Christ, stand ready, willing and able to meet the greater tasks that GOD has called us to accomplish in His name. And, to Him be all the Glory!
2010 Saw the History Making Legacy of The Church at Bethel’s Family continue. Over 1,840 individuals joined the Body of Christ here at Bethel’s Family with 250 baptisms. We continued to experience a packed house even after expanding to five morning services in September. We averaged just over 4,100 saints involved in some level of spiritual growth and community outreach each week. We continued servicing our church family and community at large through 25 major ministries, 12 licensed ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and 97 deacons. As is our yearly tradition now, we conducted our family oriented Easter service and egg hunt on Good Friday and blessed well over 2,000 youth from the community. The Bethel’s Family Christian Academy launched their first school year in August for children ages 1-4. Heavenly Hands’ has continued expanding its outreach initiatives across the city. It now has 8 satellite locations, and has been able to meet the basic needs of over 8,000 individuals each month in the Greater Southwest Houston area and beyond. The VISION of Bethel’s Place Community Development and Empowerment Center is now becoming a reality with the signing of a $5.78 Million Loan between Bethel’s Family and Region’s Bank on November 3, 2010. Bethel’s Place Community Center’s projected completion and move in date is slated for sometime in September 2011. Bethel’s Place numerous family orientated programming pieces has serviced over 5,000 individuals this year. Their most significant hallmark is the GED Program that is provided to the community by way of partnership with Houston Community College. Bethel’s Place Free Tax services saw 1,341 tax returns being filed resulting in over $1,034,301.00 in tax refunds returning back to our community. The Young Men Development Initiative, Inc. (YMDI) hit the ground running in January. YMDI is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that was birthed out of the Beacon Boy’s ministry. It has the awesome challenge of attending to the educational development, mentorship and training of boy in the community ages 4-18. During the course of this year, YMDI has offered several recreational and life skills events and program opportunities sorely needed in our local community. The Mission Trip to Kenya, Africa; 6-19 June, 2010, was an overwhelming experience for the 92 team members that were able to go. The Team consisted of 5 Doctors, 18 Nurses, 7 Ordained Ministers, numerous teachers, and a total of 18 different professions. This large contingent of highly gifted saints were able to minister to over 8,000 Kenyans. The enormity of the Kenya Mission planning and execution was such that we created a separate 501(c)(3) non-profit for Missions going forward called “Bethel’s Global Reach, Inc.” BGR, Inc. already has plans underway to take a mission team to Haiti in January 2011, and a team of 40 back to Kenya, Africa, in June 2011. On October 31st, Bethel’s Place took the lead in hosting our Annual Fall Festival. The Festival once again was the biggest ever with over 7,500 people enjoying all the rides, games and food. As in the past, people came from all over Houston, and a great time of fun, fellowship, excitement and laughter was experienced by ALL. In November, Bethel’s Family formed a partnership with the National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) out of Washington, DC. Following a visit to Bethel’s Family in October, the NBCC designated our church as the model for forming the first Black Church Chamber of Commerce in the nation. This designation led to the creation of Bethel’s Place Black Chamber of Commerce, Inc.; a 501(c)(3) non-profit. The NBCC intends to work with Bethel’s Family in duplicating our Church Chamber model (BPBCC) across the nation. We conducted our annual Christmas Musical which was headlined by the always entertaining “Bethel’s Temptations” and “Bethel’s Supremes.” However, we never lost sight of the fact that “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.” New Year’s Eve Celebration at our four services saw a packed house. This was yet again a true indication that we here at Bethel’s Family continue to be a Blessed Body of Believers. For we know that GOD has His HANDS over, under and all around the Great Ministry Work being carried out through the Body of Christ here. And, as one body in Christ, we stand ready, willing and able to meet the greater assignments that HE has called us to accomplish in His name. And, to Him be all the Glory!
2011 God continues to do a Great Work at Bethel’s Family with over 2094 individuals having joined our ever expanding Ministry since the beginning of the year, and 394 having been baptized. On October 16th we moved into the brand new 56,000 sq. ft.2-story Bethel’s Place Community Empowerment Center. The Empowerment Center is made-to-order as a “one-stop” community service center with Bethel’s Heavenly Hands, Bethel’s Place, Bethel’s Global Reach, Bethel’s Place Black Chamber of Commerce, Amazing Smiles (Dental), Bethel’s Café’, Bethel’s Copy and Print Business Center, and a host of community focused amenities ALL under one roof. WOW! Some of the other key events and activities that deserve highlighting during this exciting history of ministry at Bethel’s Family are: the annual family oriented Easter service and egg hunt on Good Friday blessed well over 3,000 youth and young families from the community: the Bethel’s Family Christian Academy continues to enjoy capacity enrollment for the 2011-2012 school year for children ages 1-4; Heavenly Hands continues expanding its outreach across the city. It is in the midst of expanding to 9 satellite locations, and continues meeting the basic needs of over 8,000 individuals each month in the Greater Southwest Houston area and beyond; Bethel’s Place numerous family orientated programming pieces are picking up where they left off with their most significant hallmark being the well attended free GED Program; Bethel’s Place took the lead once again in hosting the Annual October 31st “Fall Summit.” This year’s event was attended by over 7,000 and headlined by special appearances by Brian Courtney Wilson and Se7en; Bethel’s K.I.S.S. (Keeping It Sealed & Saved) did a major outreach to the Kraus Center in Katy, TX where they were able to share the K.I.S.S. purity program for young girls with them; the Young Men Development Initiative, Inc. (YMDI) is in full swing with their fall Basketball season making great use of the Empowerment Centers double-gymnasium, the uplifting expressions on the young kids faces are priceless; Bethel’s Global Reach in partnership with The Buckner Foundation out of Dallas, TX took a group of 40 on Mission to Kenya, Africa; 5-18 June, 2011. The trip included the addition of a dental team from “Amazing Smiles” who were able to provide an array of dental services to thousands of Kenyan people. For many it was their first time ever receiving dental assistance. This year’s Mission Trip also included a Trade component headed by the National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) out of Washington, DC; Bethel’s Place Black Chamber of Commerce, Inc. played a key role in the Trade Mission resulting in the formation of a 21 member Kenyan Church Chamber of Commerce coalition thereby taking the Church Chamber of Commerce initiative international. The Bethel’s Place Black Chamber of Commerce was also recognized by the NBCC as the 2011 “Chamber of the Year” in light of their phenomenal growth and creation of the Empower Magazine in print and electronic format. 2011 also saw the formation of two more non-profit organizations; Bethel’s R.S.V.P. and Bethel’s Learning Center (Arrow Academy). R.S.V.P. stands for Reserved, Saved, Validated and Pure. They had a graduating class in the Spring where 29 young boys successfully completed the R.S.V.P. purity program. Bethel’s Learning Center opened its doors for the first time this Fall to the delight of just over 170 kindergartners to 5th grade students who were pleased with complimentary uniforms and brand new laptop computers. We held our annual New Year’s Eve Celebration services in the brand new and spacious Bethel’s Place Community Empowerment Center. During our three exciting end-of-year services, we enjoyed the experience of a wedding, 20 baptisms, songs of praise, dancing and spirited prayer. And, as we journey into a new year and new season of ministry, we here at Bethel’s Family remain unashamedly thankful to the Lord for the many blessing He continues to shower on us. And, as one body in Christ, we stand ready, willing and able to meet the greater assignments that HE has called us to accomplish in His name. And, to Him be all the Glory!
2012 is developing into yet another History making year for Bethel’s Family as we partner with ten other non-profits in service to and for the community both locally and internationally. Since January 1, 955 individuals have joined our ever expanding Ministry, and 222 have been baptized. The recently opened 56,000 sq. ft.2-story Bethel’s Place Community Empowerment Center continues to be a tremendous blessing to our community. Other key events and activities that have taken place to date are: the annual family centered Easter service and egg hunt on Good Friday which once again blessed well over 3,000 youth and young families from the community: a history making Texas DARS (Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services) Job Transition Fair hosted by Bethel’s Family non-profits that led to the summer intern employment of many area high school juniors and seniors; Heavenly Hands expanding its outreach across the city via satellite programs locations meeting the basic needs of over 8,000 individuals each month in the Greater Southwest Houston area and beyond; Bethel’s Place’s sorely needed free GED Programs gaining growing visibility; The Young Men Development Initiative, Inc. (YMDI) once again organizing a highly tauted community wide Youth Basketball League making great use of the Empowerment Center’s double-gymnasium; Bethel’s Global Reach leading international missions teams to both the Chez Republic and Kenya, Africa, impacting the lives of thousands through medical, dental and spiritual outreach; and The Bethel’s Place Black Chamber of Commerce hosting their first ever Convention/Expo and B-Excellent Awards Dinner in which NBA Basketball legend and business entrepreneur Mr. AC Green was the Keynote speaker. Bethel’s Family is truly on the battlefield for our Lord and Savior, and we remain willing and able to answer the call for Him in service to our community and beyond. And, to Him be all the Glory!