Preservation and Progress: Antioch Missionary Baptist Church Receives Significant Grant from the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund

By Francis Page, Jr.

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    Jan. 24, 2024 (Houston Style Magazine) — In a significant move toward preserving Houston’s historical landmarks, the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, a beacon of African American heritage in Texas, has been granted $180,000 by the esteemed African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, an initiative by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

This substantial support, part of a broader $4 million allocation designed to protect 31 historic Black churches nationwide, will be directed towards critical repairs of the church’s windows and sills, ensuring the longevity of this iconic institution. Under the vigilant leadership of Senior Pastor Lou McElroy, the church anticipates utilizing these funds to honor its architectural integrity while continuing its mission of spiritual education and community service.

Since its inception in 2017, the Action Fund has mobilized over $91 million in philanthropic efforts, establishing itself as a primary protector of African American historical sites. “Receiving this grant is both a blessing and a distinguished honor,” expresses Senior Pastor McElroy. “It is not just an investment in a building but a reaffirmation of our commitment to educating future generations about our rich cultural history, spreading the gospel, and performing the Lord’s work in our community.”

The “Preserving Black Churches” program was initiated to safeguard the enduring narratives of these vital cultural landmarks, fostering community resilience and catalyzing societal transformation. “By supporting these historic places, we not only honor our past but also inspire an empowered future,” shares Brent Leggs, Executive Director of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund.

Historian Dr. Henry Lou- is Gates, Jr., an advisor to the Action Fund, emphasizes the pivotal role of Black churches in democratic reform and as symbols of ancestral resilience. “It’s crucial that these sacred centers are preserved for future generations to truly comprehend our historical identity as a people,” he states.

For the full roster of this year’s recipients and detailed site information, the public is invited to visit the provided link.

Historic Legacy of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church

Founded in January 1866, just months after the announcement of slavery’s abolition in Galveston, Antioch Missionary Baptist Church stands as Houston’s first African American Baptist Church. Relocated to Freedman’s Town, it became the first brick edifice in Houston owned by African Americans. More than a place of worship, Antioch has historically provided education, economic support, and social development opportunities to former slaves.

The church’s Gothic architecture, with its pointed arches and original handmade pews, continues to garner national acclaim, serving as a hallowed place where members congregate to practice their faith.

For further information on Antioch Baptist Church, inquiries can be directed to their business office via email at businessoffice@ambchouston.org.

About the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund

As the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s flagship program, the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund is dedicated to preserving the narratives and locations that showcase African American tenacity, activism, and achievement. Boasting over $90 million in funding, the Action Fund stands as the nation’s foremost resource for the conservation of African American historical sites. To delve deeper into the Action Fund’s commitment to narrating the full American story, please visit their website at: SavingPlaces.org/black-churches

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