Newcomers to Austin are flocking to churches as the city experiences its current surge in growth and development, finding that spiritual architecture helps them feel at ease in an area known for its hectic hustle-bustle. And there are wonderful churches in Austin you can check out.
Great Hills Baptist Church’s pastor Danny Forshee states that their focus is spreading the gospel locally and globally, such as helping individuals pay their medical bills.
1. Ebenezer Baptist Church
Ebenezer Baptist Church, established in 1868 and one of Texas’s oldest churches, stands as an iconic landmark in downtown Austin. It offers services in multiple languages – Spanish among them – to reach a broad audience. Their limestone sanctuary features stained glass windows and warm wood interiors; across the street is Jacob Fontaine Religious Museum which preserves African American church history in Travis County.
Church programs and ministries aim to assist people of all ages in deepening their faith. Women’s ministry seeks to encourage and empower members toward developing spiritually for mission involvement while organizing fellowship events for members such as an annual retreat. Men’s ministry specializes in Bible study and practical application with the purpose of making members effective leaders for local, state, and national projects.
Ebenezer Baptist Church is an active participant in the United Negro College Fund and NAACP as well as volunteering councils at Austin state hospitals. Ebenezer has long advocated civil rights for its East Side neighbors while offering them empowerment. Ebenezer was the first organization in Austin to implement a Meals on Wheels program for them and has helped many families with various needs – especially during times when Marvin Griffin served on school boards to improve Austin’s education.
Church of Venus also organizes an annual prison outreach program, open to minimum security inmates and overseen by Stephen Wilson of Liberty University. In addition, ministry services were launched at Coffield Unit outside Venus as well as being expanded throughout other Texas prisons; The church believes that worship, community, and restoration provide pathways for fulfilling lives.
2. Wesley United Methodist Church
Wesley United Methodist Church in Austin, Texas is one of Austin’s oldest African-American congregations dating back to Reconstruction 1865. Recognized for providing community groups, bible studies, worship services, and various special events such as food drives and musical performances each year for its members, this is one of Austin’s premier churches.
On March 4, 1865, the inaugural meeting of Wesley United Methodist Church took place in the basement of Tenth Street M. E. Church South where many members had attended as slaves. Reverend Joseph Welch led this inaugural gathering; on the following day was held its Quarterly Conference and trustee elections were conducted: Milton Wright, Thomas Merridy, Simon Dedrick Grant Woods Samuel Hamilton as well as first pastor Reverend Isaac Wright were elected.
By 1874, the church had completed construction of its own freestanding building in downtown Austin; then known as Wesley Chapel Church. This new structure boasted twice more floor space as its predecessor and became a center for black education in Austin – one of the first black churches with its own pastor’s study and Samuel Huston College (now Huston-Tillotson University) held classes there for years.
Wesley Church developed a church master plan during the 1970s and 80s that involved renovating their historic structure as well as purchasing adjacent properties without borrowing, using membership funds alone to complete these works.
Church has long been at the forefront of prison ministry. Beginning in the 1980s, under Reverend Freddie Dixon Sr’s direction and other church leaders, it formed a Special Task Force to address Austin Independent School District officials about ways to lower African-American suspension rates in Austin schools. Over time, this church-led Special Task Force has reduced suspension rates by providing parental support services and helping find employment for African-American students; additionally, it has started ministries at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Coffield Unit and Estes Units.
3. David Chapel Missionary Baptist
The church congregation has outgrown its current building and is seeking funds to purchase land for a new one. “We’re working on it, but it will take some time,” according to senior pastor Joseph Parker. Our main priority is having a larger sanctuary space.
This unique structure was constructed in 1958 as a home for the church’s congregation that began meeting in 1924 in a blacksmith shop. Its distinctive curved roofline draws the eye toward an iconic cross at its peak – designed by John Saunders Chase – the first African American graduate of UT-Austin School of Architecture who designed it, since no architectural firms would hire him otherwise.
Their members serve in many capacities and engage in community endeavors through various outreach programs, including Celebrate Recovery, food and financial assistance, legal ministry prenatal education, and a cold-weather shelter. Members also serve on numerous Austin boards and commissions such as Volunteer Legal Services, the City of Austin Ethics Review Commission Texas Supreme Court Grievance Oversight Committee, and Interfaith Action of Central Texas.
David Chapel Church is seeking its next Minister of Worship to oversee and coordinate its music, drama, and dance ministries as they adhere to David Chapel’s doctrine, mission, vision, and plans for worship experiences. This person will report directly to and be accountable to Pastor or his designee while inspiring and engaging congregation members as well as leading worship staff members. They must possess Christian values while upholding moral integrity and be adept at reading music well so they can lead worship services and other church events by singing with congregation members during services or other events.
4. Olivet Baptist
Five founding members of the church shared a dream: building an accessible place of worship that would promote a common spirit within their community. Over time, seven pastors working to turn this vision into reality have given it life.
Olivet Baptist Church was designed by renowned African American architect John S. Chase – Texas’s first ever licensed African American architect – and stands as an iconic landmark in Six Square – Austin’s Black Cultural Heritage District, marking one of the best churches in Austin. Additionally, several other buildings within Six Square exhibit Chase’s distinctive style of architecture.
The church is active in its community, offering over 50 spiritually-based programs and services in addition to worship. These include an investment club, alcohol abuse program, prison ministry, after-school program, and youth rites of passage program which blends Christian and Afrocentric values to guide young people through adulthood. Furthermore, it hosts the National Conference on African American Health, Spirituality, and Healing each year which brings religious, medical, and community leaders together to discuss black culture’s status. Furthermore, its congregation has made a commitment to diversity and inclusion by accepting women ministerial positions while voting in for female members since 1970!