HISTORY OF St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church
ST. LUKE MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH had her humble beginning in a tent in the vicinity of Knox Furniture Store. The year was around nineteen hundred. This location was short lived as the small band of Christians, under the pastoral leadership of Rev. P. A. Northington, purchased some property next door where the Simpson-Grove Fellowship Hall now stands. The original church was the usual hip roof structure with a vestibule equipped with a bell. This building was in use for many years. Baptism services were conducted at the Round Bale Pond, then located at the end of what is now Second Street behind where Stowe Lumber Company is now located. The church also served the public school which was located across the street from the church. This building was heated with iron heaters in the winter and cooled with hand fans in the summer.
Other pastors who served St. Luke besides Rev. Northington were Rev. Andrew Mitchell, Rev. Ira M. Hendon, Rev. Joe James, Sr., Rev. Henry Robinson, and Rev. C. L. Cooke. Rev. J. R. Woodall began pastoring St. Luke around nineteen thirty-four and pastored for approximately twelve years. He resigned the pastorate to become pastor of FirstBaptistChurch in Huntsville, Texas.
Rev. J. R. Simpson became St. Luke’s pastor in September, 1946, about three months thereafter, on December 24th, St. Luke burned to the ground. Until the edifice next door was erected in 1951, St. Luke continued to have worship services twice a month at the Presbyterian Church on Spring Street down from MaryAllenCollege. When the new church was finished, it was at this time that Rev. Simpson began pastoring fulltime making St. Luke the first BlackChurch in HoustonCounty to be a full-time church. Rev. Simpson served faithfully for seventeen (17) years until his death in February, 1963.
Rev. J. T. Grove became St. Luke’s pastor in September, 1963. The church continued to grow under the capable leadership. It was in the heart of Rev. Grove to build the Lord a House of Worship; therefore, it was at this time that a building fund was begun. Those members who served under Rev. Grove’s leadership often heard his say, “Brothers, I want to see something go up around here before the Lord calls me home. As the Lord said to David, “Thou did well that it was in thine heart,” but it was not in God’s will for him to do so.
Rev. Grove served faithfully until his health failed. He went home to be with the Lord on June 1, 1982, after nineteen (19) years of faithful service.
Rev. Lonnie Franks became St. Luke’s next pastor. He preached his first sermon as pastor on October 3, 1982. It was under Rev. Frank’s leadership that this new House of Worship was built. The first worship services were held in this building on the first Sunday in June, 1988. You could always ride through the neighborhood and find Rev Franks sitting on the porch of the elders, visiting the sick, and his members. St. Luke traveled near and far to worship with other congregations along with attending area, district, and state meetings. Studying the Bible and knowing God’s Word was a MUST. We learned God’s Word by attending Wednesday night Bible Study, Sunday School, 11:00 o’clock worship services, BTU, 6:00 pm services. The brothers attended Brotherhood, and the sisters attended one of 3 missionary groups. Our children traveled and participated at the Palestine Bowen District campground and even a dynamic Drill Team was formed under Rev Franks’ leadership. Rev. Franks served as pastor for thirteen years.
Interim Pastor, Rev. Marvin McPherson served after Rev Franks’ administration until the church called Rev. Ralph P. Taylor.
Rev. Ralph P. Taylor became St. Luke next pastor on March 10, 1996. Under his leadership, the building next door was changed to our fellowship hall and named the Simpson-Groves Education Center. The “Prayer Warriors” group and “Singles Ministry were formed and a Praise Dance Ministry began under the direction of Sis Shirley Rayford which in turn encouraged some youth to worship through dancing Praises to the Lord. There was even young girls who were “twirlers of ribbon”, prasing the Lord We also purchased a mini-bus. Rev. Robert Thompson, Rev. Ernest Jackson and Rev Anthony Rayford were licensed to preach. Bro. Mark Giles, Rro Anthony Wooten, Bro. G. B. Burton, Bro Harold Clebourn and Bro Hunter Watson III were ordained as deacons.
Rev Taylor and his wife Shaniquia gave St. Luke the first children born into our St. Luke family (Grace and Victoria). Rev. Taylor served as pastor for thirteen (13) years.
Interim Pastor, Rev. Vernon Hickerson served during the transition period between Rev. Taylor and Rev. Mouton. He drove from Groveton during the week for Bible Study and on Sunday’s for Sunday School and morning worship services. Rev Hickerson encouraged us to remain faithful, stay together and to pray for God to send us a pastor.
On February 14, 2010, Rev. Larry J. Mouton, Jr. became the Pastor of St. Luke. Rev. Mouton was a pastor with sermons bought to life. There were all kinds of visuals, from ladders to cakes and such. He was passionate in the way he delivered the Word to us. He worked tirelessly to educate, build, and strengthen the family. Serving communion to our nursing home and homebound members, serving Thanksgiving dinners to our community, organizing the Hospitality committee and volunteered at the local Sr. Citizen center, along with starting a TV ministry of our Sunday morning services, opened a new parking lot, mentoring at the schools weekly, and the devotional messages sent via telephone, are just a few remembrances we have of him. Bro. Ennis McKnight was ordained and three other young men were placed in training. Deacon W.L. and Sis. Regina Tillis united with St. Luke and are faithful members serving in many areas of the church.
Rev. Mouton’s farewell sermon was preached on May 27, 2012, giving us two (2) years of service.
Interim Pastor, Rev. Ernest Jackson served as our pastor from June 2012 until October 2012. He constantly reminded St. Luke to stay in prayer for God to send us a pastor. Rev. Jackson, an associate minister, remains prayerful, faithful, and dedicated here at St. Luke.—although we are blessed to know that God had a greater plan for him, as we received the announcement of Rev. Jackson being called to pastor Thankful Baptist Church.
On Sunday, October 14, 2012, the St. Luke Church family called Rev. Lance A. Mann. He accepted the call and preached his first sermon as our pastor on December 2, 2012. Under Pastor Mann’s leadership our membership continued to grow. We had entire families to come unite and were baptized into the faith of believers as members of St. Luke.
UNDER the leadership of Rev. Mann: The “Voices of Luke” was formed (this is a choir including adults and youth who sings on the 4th Sundays). A mid-week service entitled WOW (Worship of Wednesday) was formed. Services from 12 noon to 1pm with a brown bag lunch served. Indeed it is “WOW.” God continued to be a blessing during these services. A praise and worship team has been organized; a new church logo has been designed. The praise dance ministry was bought back into existence, this time under the direction of Sis. Penny Mann. Thanksgiving luncheons were served to the community and during the past 2 years over 240 families were fed.
A capital fund was organized with the goal of paying off our church mortgage; this was accomplished followed by a mortgage burning service. Several new Sunday school teachers have been added to our classes; a family prayer meeting followed by new members’ orientation was held on Saturday before the 1st Sunday of the month then later moved to orientation during Sunday School.
Bro. Mark Giles was reinstated as deacon, Bro. Broderick Anthony ordained as deacon along with their wives as deaconess. Sis. Earlene Clebourn united as member and became deaconess, showing us how God continues to bless the family unit—Husband, Wife, and children.
In 2014, The Robbins-Denman, Denby, Hamilton Scholarship was organized by 1990 youths, Bro. Cedric Thompson, Sis. Kristy Moten Chavis, Sis. Catina Brice, Sis. Melody Moten Goffney, and Sis. Perchelle Black Cleveland. The Scholarship is in Memory of Crockett High School graduates Brachelle Robbins Denman, Brandon Denby, & Lawrence Hamilton. The 1st recipient (2015) was Sandy Cruz, attending Tyler Junior College, Tyler. Last year’s recipient (2016) was Huntrail Watson, attending Sam Houston State University, Huntsville. Applications for 2017 will be on the Crockett High School website or contact the high school counselor.
April 17, 2016 St. Luke had its 1st Annual Usher’s Day Program. We thank God for our dedicated ushers.
YES, Pastor Mann preached about Family, not just family as brothers and sisters in the church, but family as in husband, wife, children, brothers and sisters (siblings) in the home. One of the blessing we will remember is out invitational song, written by his cousin Mr. Richard Morgan—“I came to Jesus…..I came just as I was.” Pastor Mann announced his resignation and within two weeks preached his last sermon as pastor of St. Luke on Sunday November 13, 2016 during morning service. He served as pastor of St. Luke for just under four (4) years.
St. Luke has overcome many setbacks, but has been able to continue to progress because God’s Word is take seriously by the members. St. Luke continues to “walk by faith and not by sight.” God has been so good to us and He is blessing us. We will keep our hands in the hands of the Almighty heavenly father as he guides us to our next pastor.
In the midst of world turmoil, in the face of strife and war and at a time when world ideals are crumbling, St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church has ever held high the banner of Christ who says, “Upon this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18).
Persecution has not crushed the church, man’s wisdom has not stopped the church, time has not abated the church’s power, the abuses of enemies have not shaken he church’s stability, for the true church is founded upon a Rock. May St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church stand, in years to come, as she has stood these one-hundred and 10 years as a living monument to a Savior who died that all men might live. Christians place a great deal of emphasis on the church building. However, we must not forget the teachings of Jesus that God is not housed in a place of brick and mortar, but in the lives of His people, and when the CHURCH abides in the lives of God’s people, this makes the CHURCH HOUSE a great place to gather in His name to worship HIM.