SHARPSTOWN BAPTIST CHURCH
“In the beginning, God...” brought together four families for the purpose of seeking His will in providing a Baptist Church in the Sharpstown area of Southwest Houston. Dr. Ross Dillon of the Union Baptist Association met with this group for prayers and counsel.
As the membership of Sharpstown Baptist Chapel as it was then known grew to approximately ten families, it became necessary to move from the private home where the group had been meeting to more spacious quarters. A large two-story home on Spruce Street in Bellaire was secured in 1955. It was while meeting at this location that the group officially became a mission of River Oaks Baptist Church
During these early months of 1956, the young body of believers who were to become were seeking God’s will and praying for His guidance. God heard those prayers and gave a vision to a young preacher in central Texas. This man, who had never met the Sharpstown group, had a dream about the place where he would preach in the near future. In his dream, he saw a two-story structure out in the middle of a large field. The building in his dream had a concrete block bottom story with four small columns supporting the second story. This was the vision which God showed to the man whom He had chosen to lead the new body of believers in the Sharpstown community.
The Lord continued to increase the number of worshippers and yet another move to a larger facility was arranged. Sharpstown Baptist Chapel began meeting in a two-story building which at one time served as a veterinary clinic. This interim facility was located in a large open field just south of the intersection of Hillcroft and Bellaire Boulevard. The building was a two-story structure with a concrete block first floor and four columns – just as it had appeared in the young pastor’s vision. Brother Clem Hardy, a retired missionary to Brazil, was called in June 1956 as interim pastor.
God directed the work of the Pastor Search Committee and on June 15, 1957, Bob and Becky Latham and their family were called to lead the sixty-one members who comprised the Sharpstown Baptist Chapel mission church.
By September of 1957 the mission had grown to nearly one hundred members and the group began worshiping in Jane Long Junior High School. One memorable event during the mission’s temporary stay at Jane Long was the day when a nervous young new Christian named Wayne Andrews sang his first solo.
On November 16, 1958, the body of believers known as Sharpstown Baptist Chapel became Sharpstown Baptist Church. Charter Number 17-150672, was filed in Austin, TX in 1958.
On this memorable occasion, two hundred and sixty-one charter members were present. The formation of the new church paved the way for the acquisition of land and the establishment of credit for a building program.
It was at this critical point that lay persons from River Oaks Baptist Church were helpful in aiding the church to acquire seven and a half acres of land on Bellaire Boulevard where its new worship facility would be erected. To finance the new church building and parking lot, the church sold bonds to its membership and friends.
On a cold, brisk day in March 1959, groundbreaking ceremonies were held on the site where construction would soon begin. Even the children were able to share in this blessed milestone in the life of Sharpstown Baptist Church. Construction progressed through the spring and summer and the first services were held on October 25, 1959. Sunday attendance at that time was four hundred and seventy four.
God Led Us To The Mission Field.....
In May 1960, Merrill J. Luman was called as the first full-time staff member to serve in the combined capacity of Music and Education. During the sixties, the music ministry program was richly blessed and would serve a powerful force in the church’s rapid growth. Youth choirs were particularly instrumental in drawing young people and children – and their families – into the body of the rapidly growing church. One area of music ministry which brought local, citywide, and even national notice to us was the handbell choirs.
Growing numbers of youth of all ages soon overtaxed the original building and a second unit dedicated to classroom space was erected in 1963 using bond issue funds.
One important milestone in the life of Sharpstown Baptist Church occurred in 1966 when the Wilcrest Baptist Mission was formed. That mission was constituted into a church in 1968.
As Sharpstown Baptist Church grew and followed God where He was working in our community, it became evident in the early seventies that it was again time to build and grow. New space was needed for additional classrooms, a larger worship facility, fellowship and for athletic and youth activities.
Under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, plans were drawn up for a new multi-purpose activities center. The Southern Baptist Convention provided the church with consultation to plan and raise funds for the new building. The “Together We Build” program was blessed with success through sacrificial giving by members and ground was broken on April 8, 1973.On Easter Sunday, April 24, 1974, the building became the new center for worship, Bible study, drama productions and athletic and social activities. The outstanding bonds for this project were retired through a loan from a local savings institution. On March 21, 1999, Sharpstown Baptist Church celebrated the retirement of this debt with a “Mortgage Note Burning Ceremony”.
Brother Bob Latham’s ministry at Sharpstown Baptist Church continued through 1980 when he was called to a church in Indiana. A pastor search committee, with God’s leadership and guidance, found a dynamic young minister in Kingsport, Tennessee, and in 1981, Dr. Ed Johnson became Sharpstown Baptist Church’s new pastor.
Dr. Johnson’s tenure at Sharpstown was marked by many changes, both in our community and in staff position. Richard Edfeldt was called in 1982 as Minister of Education and Administration and Tim Johnson answered a call to serve as Minister of Youth and would later assume the additional duties of Minister of Music.
Dr. Johnson left in 1983 to pastor a church in Florida. Michael J. Keppler was called as pastor in April of 1984. Brother Mike served seven years and then accepted a call to pastor a church in Illinois in October of 1991.
We Joined To Go Where He Was Working....
The eighties saw a demographic shift from maturing neighborhoods surrounding the church, combined with economic changes. Sharpstown Baptist Church responded by developing strong programs in the area of education and discipleship, youth programs and continued excellence in music programs.
During the late 1980’s the demographic composition of the Sharpstown neighborhood was primarily Anglo American with smaller percentages of Hispanics, African Americans and Asians. Sharpstown Baptist Church opened its doors to each of these groups and today our church’s vision statement affirms that we are a “multicultural congregation”.
Declining membership and Sunday school attendance, combined with a decrease in membership between the ages of twenty-five and forty prompted Sharpstown to re-examine its focus and to develop new methods in order to reach more people for Christ in Southwest Houston. The “Vision 90” Long-Range Planning Committee developed action plans to address the issues of our changing community and the early nineties saw the implementation of many of the changes proposed by this committee.
In late December of 1992, Richard Williamson was called as pastor. Under Dr. Williamson’s dynamic leadership, Sharpstown Baptist Church came into its own as a multicultural congregation, dedicated to breaking down the walls that divide people while we seek God’s leadership to become an active church at the center of our community. Today, our core congregation better reflects the demographic trends in our neighboring community.
In 1996, Sharpstown conducted its first “International Festival”, an event which featured music, food and other activities native to its diversified congregations. This festival also attracted many attendees from the surrounding community.
Another area where Sharpstown Baptist Church has changed its focus to reach its surrounding community for Christ is in the area of its music ministry. Several exceptionally gifted ministers of worship have led our church to offer a blend of contemporary and traditional music in order to minister to both new and long-term members.
On July 12, 1998, David P Wilcox, Sharpstown Baptist Church’s Minister of Worship lost his life in a tragic automobile accident. His legacy to our church is a vibrant contemporary instrumental music ministry and continued emphasis on choral music productions, youth, children and hand bell choirs.
On July 1, 2001, Brother Joe Baucum was called as Sharpstown Baptist Church’s new Pastor and served until February 1, 2009
On June 7, 2009, Brother Mike Jeter was called as Sharpstown Baptist Church's new pastor.
In addition to its core congregation, the church hosted mission churches from Myanmar (Burma) and Nepal. The Beth Yeshua Messianic church also conducts services on the Sharpstown Baptit Church campus.
Mission activities by Sharpstown Baptist Church include participation in programs of the Christian Community Center, including a Food Pantry. Youth and adults regularly participate in mission trips to both domestic and foreign locations.
II. CHRONOLOGY OF PASTORS
Robert L. Latham, June, 1957 – January, 1980
Dr. Edward W. Johnson, July, 1980 – May, 1983
Michael J. Keppler, April 1984 – October 1991
Richard S. Williamson, January 1, 1993-October, 1999
Joe E. Baucum, July 1, 2001 – February 1, 2009
Mike Jeter, June 7,2009
III. CHRONOLOGY OF FULL-TIME PROFESSIONAL MINISTRY STAFF
Interim Pastor - 1956-1957
Robert L. Latham,
Pastor - 1957-1980
Merrill J. Luman
, Minister of Music - 1960-1982
, Minister to Youth - 1962
, Youth Director/Assistant Pastor - 1965-1967
, Director-Little School - 1966-1982
, Minister of Education - 1967-1968
Paul W. Green
, Minister of Education - 1969-1970
Dr. Henry Eason
, Minister of Education - 1971-1978
, Minister of Youth - 1972-1978
, Minister of Activities - 1974-1978
, Minister of Education - 1979-1982
, Minister of Youth - 1979-1980
Dr. Joe Stiles
, Interim Pastor - 1980
Dr. Edward D. Johnson
, Pastor - 1980-1983
l, Minister of Youth - 1980-1982
, Interim Minister of Music - 1982-1983
Minister of Music & Youth - 1982-1990
, Minister of Education/Administration - 1982-1991
Dr. A.O. Collins
, Interim Pastor - 1983-1984
Michael J. Keppler
, Pastor - 1984-1991
, Interim Worship Minister - 1990-1991
, Worship Minister - 1991-1992
, Worship Minister - 1992-1993
, Youth Minister - 1991-1993
, Interim Pastor - 1991-1992
Dr. Richard S. Williamson
, Pastor - 1992-1999
, Worship Minister - 1993-1995
, Youth Minister - 1993-1994
, Youth Minister - 1994-1995
, Youth Minister - 1995-1996
, Worship Minister - 1995-1998
, Youth Pastor - 1996-1999
, Worship Minister - 1998-2002
, Interim Pastor - 1999-2001
, Pastor - 2001 - 2009
, Youth Pastor - 2000 - 2006
, Worship Minister - 2002 - 2003
, Education Director - 2003-2004
Brent A. Ward, Minister of Worship, 1999-2002
Tony DeSoto, Minister of Worship and Education, 2005-2006
Brian Runnels, Interim Minister of Worship, 2006-2008
Jon Hickey, Youth Minister - 2007-present
Joe Glass, Minister of Worship - 2008 - 2011
Mike Jeter, Pastor - 2009 - present
Christopher Lee, Minister of Worship, 2012 - present