An Act of Faith

March 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Blogs, Community, Features

by Matt Bartlett

West End Baptist Church has experienced better days. Founded in 1906, the church dwindled from 2,000 members in the ’60s to just 18 in the summer of 2015. The windows of the sanctuary were boarded and the upkeep of the buildings located at 802 Shepherd Drive was too much for the congregation to handle. After pressure from the city to make repairs and an offer from a third party to buy the land, the church’s future was uncertain. Then the congregation decided to do something truly remarkable: Rather than sell, the members voted unanimously on August 28, 2015 to donate the land and buildings, valued at 10 million dollars, to River Pointe Church of Richmond, Texas.

Renovations on the West End Baptist Church building are well underway.

Renovations on the West End Baptist Church building are well underway.

Led by Pastor Patrick Kelley, RPC was born 19 years ago inside a residential home in Richmond. Growing quickly, the church soon met at a local clubhouse, then two different high school auditoriums, before settling in to a 96-acre campus. RPC launched a Missouri City campus in 2012 and more recently, a West Houston campus at the beginning of 2015. Named the 25th-fastest-growing church in the United States by Outreach Magazine, more than 1,500 members attend weekly services in Richmond, Missouri City and West Houston.

By the summer, the West Houston campus had grown so quickly that church staff began considering a permanent building rather than continuing to rent the Moran Fine Arts Center for services. It was then that Pastor Kelley noticed the nearby West End Baptist Church and reached out to WEBC’s part-time pastor Michael Quintanilla. Through their discussions, the idea of a merger grew into a reality. Ultimately for the members of WEBC, the decision to join forces came down to their desire to “honor the legacy of their grandparents and great grandparents who, in 1954, sacrificed a great deal to build that building. They wanted to see it continue as a church,” recalls Pastor Kelley. In an effort to preserve that legacy, the campus adopted the name West End Church.

Construction is set to begin in the spring, with a grand opening tentatively scheduled for December 2016. Renovations will include a neighborhood coffee shop, a prayer garden, a children’s building and an extensive remodeling of the sanctuary, complete with new air conditioning, electricity and plumbing. During the renovations, the church will return to the Moran Fine Arts Center. For now, they are holding “pre-renovation” services inside the sanctuary.

When asked about what the new church would be like, Pastor Kelley described the merger as a “partnership” in which “the best of both congregations [would combine] to create a really effective ministry.” The people of WEBC have a long history of caring for the community in the heart of West Houston. River Pointe brings an effective ministry model, some great musicians and a large congregation excited about joining in with the good work already underway. Pastor Kelley calls the newly formed church a safe place to “process your doubts [without] feeling any pressure.” Come see for yourself.

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