We would like to thank Francelle Ward for helping compile this summary of our history.
In September 1957, Reverend James Lamberth was appointed by Bishop A. Frank Smith to organize a new church in the general area of Meyerland, Maplewood and Braeburn Terrace. A vacant tract of land consisting of 6.5 acres and with no street names to identify the location, (later known as corner of Beechnut and Renwick) valued at a cost of $39,271.62 including paving and sewers, was chosen. The church was a project from the Houston Board of Missions. At this time, A. Frank Smith served as Bishop of the Texas Conference, and Homer T. Fort served as District Superintendent. The Board of Missions granted a down payment of $3,000.00 for a parsonage and furnishings, plus $200.00 for rent.
The first organized meeting was held Sunday, October 13, 1957 in the garage of the new parsonage located at 5817 Grape Street. Thirty five interested persons attended.
The first name chosen for the church was St. James in honor of the first minister, but soon it was discovered that an inactive and in-debt church already had that name. Beechnut Methodist was suggested but quickly discarded because it reminded some of chewing gum. The name of St. Philip’s was unique to the Texas Conference. Shafts of Wheat became the symbol of St. Philip’s and the spelling with only one “L” in Philip’s was emphasized.
The first service was held on October 27, 1957 in the auditorium rented from Condit Elementary School on South Rice, in Bellaire. There was also a room rented and used as a nursery. Kathleen Deming played the piano for the service.
The first office was opened at 5200 Elm Street in Bellaire, Texas. Two rooms were donated by business man Mr. F. Dean. Patty Dean volunteered as secretary until Mary Fern Neely was hired.
In June, 1959, Reverend Lamberth and his family moved into a new parsonage, located at 5462 Edith Street.
Ground was broken for the original sanctuary on March 30, 1960 and the first service in the building was August 14, 1960. The formal opening service was held September 11, 1960, with District Superintendent Homer Fort preaching and Reverend Darwin Andrus, Secretary of the Methodist Board of Missions in attendance.
The first new members to join in the new building were Eldon and Arvalee Saul, daughters Elaine and Carolyn. The first organ was purchased in 1960. St. Philip’s Day School was opened September 6th,1961 headed by Mrs. Miles (Lorene) Washburn.
Mid to Late 1960s
On March 20, 1965 a Quarterly Conference was called to elect a building committee for construction of a new sanctuary. The building was completed in the Fall of 1967. Members selected were: Mitchell Cantrell, Chairman, Robert Lee Ellis, Allen Grant, Rev. Leon Matthis, Mrs. Louie (Vivian) Oliver and Vic Russek.
A Consecration Service for the new sanctuary, was held on November 26, 1967 with Bishop Paul E. Martin, Rev. Leo Allen, District Superintendent, Rev. Wally Shook and Rev. Leon Matthis. A cornerstone with a time capsule holding items submitted by some of the members is located to the right of the sanctuary entrance.
In 2002, a Building Committee was established by the Finance Committee for the purpose of reviewing a mandate by the City of Houston’s Fire Marshall, to either provide an alternate exit from the choir loft or move the choir to the first floor of the Sanctuary. After more than two years of study and listening to the congregation’s recommendations, the Committee contracted to move the choir to the Chancel area on the first floor and to remodel the Narthex, including the remodeling of the men’s restroom to accommodate handicap members and visitors. A Consecration Service and Celebration Service was held on Sunday, April 18, 2004.
As a part of the overall effort, the organ was moved down to the Chancel area, new furniture was built specifically for our Sanctuary, and marble from the original Altar was used for the new Altar and the Baptismal stand.
During that same period, the Prayer Garden was envisioned, funds were raised, and the garden was designed, constructed and dedicated in 2004.
During our history of more than 45 years, St. Philip’s has had several ministers who have served us:
- Bob Lamberth
- Bob Christianson
- Leon Matthis
- Eugene Harris
- L. C. Orrick
- Sam Duree
- Dan Danheim
- Art Pry
- Richard Laster
- Louis Murray
- Lisa Callaway