Short History of Grace United Methodist Church
The roots of Grace Methodist Church are tied very closely to the beginning of the area now known as Baytown, Texas. Even though this part of Harris County played a big part in the major events of the development of the Republic of Texas and later the state of Texas, no great increase in population took place in this immediate vicinity until the discovery of OIL. Off and on from 1905 until those efforts paid off, exploration centered in the Tabs Bay area where Goose Creek flows into the bay. In 1915 – 1916 the “oil boom” was on. People flocked to the area and “Tent City” sprang up almost overnight. The gushers produced so well that oil ruined clothes hung out to dry on lives, the whole community moved to Middletown, which later became Pelly.
Due to the transient nature of the people, many felt this was a temporary settlement. Therefore schools and churches were slow to develop. However, by 1917, a six room school house did open. After World War I, a building was moved from Houston’s Camp Logan to the comer of Pearce and Jones Street to be used by the YMCA. This became the center of community life. There first community development was taking place quite a distance from the oil fields, the settlement began to take on an air of permanence. Streets and lots were laid out and even some brick buildings were built. This led to the designation of New Town. Officially, New Town was incorporated in 1919 and the town of Goose Creek was born. The Goose Creek School District also was created that year.
Christian services began to be held in the YMCA building twice a month with ministers of several denominations conducting them. Soon a group of Methodists realized the need of a church organization of their own. In 1919, the Methodist Episcopal Church South of Goose Creek was organized with thirty charter members. The name Grace Methodist Church was chosen. The Reverend J.D.F. Houck, a supply pastor from Houston, was the organizing pastor. Grace Methodist Church became a pastoral charge in the Houston District and remained a part of that district until it was transferred to the Galveston District by the Texas Annual
Conference in November 1926.
Methodist services continued to be held in the YMCA building for about two years. The Sunday school soon outgrew the facility and classes were held in several adjacent downtown buildings. In 1921, Reverend Houck had been appointed to be the first pastor of Grace Methodist Church. They really wanted a church building of their own, but there was just no money. They felt they had to do something to start a building fund. Besides local contributions a stimulus came from an out of town source. The Houston Chronicle of March 21, 1921, published this observation from a regular writer for that newspaper:
“Goose Creek wants a church and must have one. If the men who have taken millions of dollars from that wonder field of oil won’t dig up to build it, it may be that the workers and the so called
“roughnecks” will build it out of their wages. But we believe the men who have grown rich will build that Methodist house of worship over the pool which has yielded up their millions.”
Then on April 10, 1921, the headline in The Houston Chronicle read: “WILLS YOU HELP BUILD A CHURCH FOR GOOSE CREEK?” The following article gave good reasons for a “yes” answer.
“Shall we continue to send thousands and thousands of dollars out of our state for churches and mission schools and permit three hundred children, here under the very shadows of the magnificent churches of a great city, to remain spiritually and morally neglected? … Shall we longer see our boys and girls fallen by the wayside, stripped of their manhood and womanhood because of our neglect? The boys and men who come here to work in the oil field need the advantages of social and religious activities even more than they did before they left home. We plan to have community evenings in our church, with suitable entertainment to which the public will be invited.”
These pleas were heeded! The building fund grew! The Trustees were authorized to buy a lot 75X1 00 ft. at the comer of W. Pearce and S. Jones, across the street from the YMCA. A building committee was elected, plans were approved, and a contractor was selected. Also, the congregation bought a four room house on W. Pearce for a parsonage which served each pastor until 1948. The church building was completed in nine months and the first services were held on Easter Sunday, 1922.
During all this time the ladies of the church were very busy. On January 14, 1921 in the YMCA building, a WOMEN’S MISSIONARY SOCIETY of the Goose Creek Methodist Church was organized. Many years later, in 1947, the METHODIST MEN FELLOWSHIP of Grace Methodist Church was chartered. Both of these groups are active today.
After 27 years of religious services in the original building at Pearce and Jones Street, on May 1, 1949, the congregation of Grace Methodist occupied the educational building and temporary sanctuary on the comer of North Pruett and West Murrill Street. A new parsonage was built on the property, also, and along with the educational building and temporary sanctuary intended to be later used as the fellowship hall were paid for in full by the end of 1955. Immediately plans were under way to build the permanent sanctuary. The first service was held in the beautiful new sanctuary on January 29, 1056 and is still in use today. Various remodeling have been done in the educational building and new parsonages have been purchased at other locations, but we continue to believe that we have the most inspirational and beautiful sanctuary in the area.
The work of the Lord has gone on through the church from those early oil boom days to the present time. Even though we are now known as Grace United Methodist church of Baytown, the love of God, our fellow man and each other has been the thread that has held us together these many years.
See the website GALLERY to enjoy other Grace United Methodist Church pictures.