Learning the Truth, Living our Faith, and Spreading the Love
THE HISTORY AND LEGACY OF THE Church of Christ
West Laurel Street, San Antonio, TX
The congregation of the Lord’s people, known as the West Laurel Street Church of Christ, which meets at 1747 West Laurel Street, looks back, celebrating 84years of existence. With great faith, enormous hope and an emancipated spirit set with a vision for future greatness, we give thanks to our Almighty Heavenly Father for the past, present and hope for the future.
The beginnings of Laurel Street go back to a racially-segregated community in South Texas, in the City of San Antonio, 135 miles North of the border of Mexico in the year of 1935. It was the first African-American Church of Christ in the region. It began in the home of Brother and Sister Walter Chaney located at 813 Culebra Road, just two blocks from its present location. (shared location 950 Culebra) In a twist of coincidence that only God could work; the recentowners of this home became members of the Laurel Street Church of Christ. Odette Roman was baptized in 2007 and her husband Raymando Roman in 2010, and both passed away, Odette in 2014 and Raymando in 2016.
That initial group began with approximately ten members, who were Seth McCain and wife, Daniel Mitchell and wife, John Mitchell, Quinton Mitchell, Eddie Cannon and daughter, John T. Ramsey, Brother Wilson and Etta Adams. In 1938, Sister Lomie Bell and eight children moved from Giddings, Texas, and placed membership. One of her children, Argolia Jackson, remained a member of Laurel Street until her passing in 2012. Her son, John Jackson and his daughter Letrice Jackson remain at Laurel Street.(2019)
After worshipping at 813 Culebra for almost 4 1/2years, the brothers acquired a big house at 1747 West Laurel Street which sat on cinder blocks. The Lord blessed the congregation; the word spread, and theCaucasian brothers from the Beacon Hills church of Christ began to assist the brothers of the Colored congregation on Laurel Street. In 1940, they encouraged the popular Colored preacher R.N. Hogan,to conduct a thirty-day Gospel Meeting under a tent set up on the corner of Culebra and Zarzamora. During this meeting, approximately forty souls were added to the church. Brother J.M. Butler, song leader and gospel preacher who frequently traveled with Brother Hogan, remained to set things in order and became the congregation’s first full-time evangelist.
The congregation appointed trustees, became incorporated and purchased land for $300 in October,1940. In 1945, additional land was purchased for $4,000 on which the current edifice now stands. Brother James Butler, ministered for three years followed by Emerson Powers who served for five years. Alonzo N. Patterson served as evangelist twice at Laurel Street, from 1948 – 1955 and then from 1958 – 1964. During his ministry, the spiritually-energized group of Christians outgrew the old facility and a new one was constructed in 1958, part of which still stands today. Following Brother A.N. Patterson, several men preached at the Laurel Street Church. They wereBrothers A.J. Adams, Howard Adams, L.J. Brannon, Clyde Muse, Frank Richardson and others.
In 1950, the Spriggsdale/Coliseum Park, now known as the Dellcrest Church of Christ was established when several members of West Laurel Street residing on the east side of the city started meeting together. They were Alvin Davis, Abraham Davis and O. Burnley. C.F. Richardson began serving as the preacher. Later, A. J. Adams, Abraham Davis and others, through encouragement from Laurel Street, began working in New Braunfels, Seguin, Kingsbury, Gonzales and Luling. These were the days of the Gospel Tent meetings when popular preachers from the brotherhood would preach for two to four weeks in which many souls were led to Christ.
In 1963, four families moved to Seguin and established the Harper Street congregation. Abraham Davis, with other families, settled in New Braunfels where he served as minister for twenty-six years. In the fall of 1965, four more families left Laurel Street and established the East Commerce congregation. After a few years of adjustments, the church, which now meets at 2706 E. Commerce, was served by Namon Cunningham from Laurel Street for approximately fifteen years. Later, Orece Greer from Laurel Street served as minister from 1994 - 2005.
In 1965, Brother Eugene Lee became the evangelist for the Laurel Street congregation. During his two-year leadership, a community Elementary School class was started which attracted Sister Amie Berkeley, a licensed public school teacher from the Acme Rd. congregation. (She maintains her 60yr membership.) He expanded and renovated the building adding a two story classroom section. Air conditioning units were installed. Many strong hands and faithful members enabled the church to grow and withstood the many storms that came with the many blessings.
Following Eugene Lee, several ministers have graced the pulpit at Laurel Street: Alvertice Bowdre, Jr. 1966 – 1970, Lloyd Nash 1971 – 1983, and Robert Smith 1984 – 1998. Serving as interim ministers during the transitional years were Jessie Sams, A. J. Adams, John Mitchell, Eddie Cannon, Louis Blair, L.J. Brannon, Asberry Mitchell and George Kelly. Under the leadership of Lloyd Nash, the church ordained two elders, Robert Woodard and James Scott. After the passing of James Scott, Robert Woodard continued on as Education Director covering a period of 30 years. The church Library, later dedicated in 2003, is named in his memory. Frederick Starks was appointed youth minister in 1997 by Robert Smith and continued to serve until 2005, when he began serving as Ministering Evangelist at the Fort Sam Houston congregation.
In 1998, Robert Smith resigned and moved to St. Petersburg, Florida. Nationally-known evangelist Joseph C. Walsh, Jr. began serving the Laurel Street in 1999, with thirty years of ministry experience, serving churches from California to Florida, and missions to several foreign countries. Brother Walsh taught and enriched the Laurel Street church life through various programs, training workshops and seminars. He encouraged the congregation in a bold vision for the future, which included a new edifice. An eight-room parsonage was purchased in 2002 to house present and future ministers, replacing the 60 year old house which was adjoining the church edifice. Under his leadership, a building project was initiated as part of a 10 year spiritual growth and expansion program.
The program began in 2002, as five houses on CulebraBlvd, (950 – 930) in the rear adjoining the LaurelStreet property, which hindered the view of the church edifice by thousands who drove by and walked along Culebra, were purchased, the land cleared and bank financing sought for a 2012 ground breaking. The building plan was for a 350-seat worship center, as the current worship area would be converted into a Family Life and Community Center. A community outreach radio program was started, as well as a Community Health Fair which attracted many to the annual Vacation Bible School. He introduced a Zone GroupProgram entitled (LIFE) Love-Involvement-Fellowship-Evangelism which also assisted in disciple and leadership training. Additionally, Brother Walsh led the way at Laurel Street in seeking a ministerial replacement for himself, someone that would be able to adequately handle the Hispanic cultural communitychallenges and numerical growth that were blessings tothe Laurel Street congregation.
In 2006, Dwight Barron Jones, a bi-lingual minister accepted the challenge to become the ministering evangelist, moving his family from Atlanta, GA, to San Antonio to begin his work with the Laurel Street Church. Barron, as he is called, was a unique fit for Laurel Street which now found itself situated in a predominately Latino/Spanish-speaking neighborhood. Brother Jones, an African-American and wife, Dalia,from northern Mexico was an ideal choice for Laurel Street and it’s future. He was ministering to a Spanish speaking congregation while in Atlanta, Georgia. He also was a former high-school Spanish teacher with extensive experience in the Spanish-speaking ministry in Latin America. For the first two years, Brother Jones assisted Brother Walsh as associate minister, and in 2008 Brother Jones became the lead evangelist. Under his leadership, Laurel Street continued to make inroads into the community reaching many lost souls, both English and Spanish-speaking, for Jesus Christ. Several Hispanic brothers and sisters in the San Antonio area placed membership and assisted in its outreach to the Spanish speaking community. Brother Jones taught classes and trained many in the congregation to speak Spanish so as to overcome the communication barrier. Under his leadership, an electronic wireless system was set up which allowed an interpreter to interpret the worship service from English to Spanish. Additionally, Brother Jones continued his evangelistic outreach to his wife’s native country of Mexico, preaching gospel meetings in Spanish.
In August 2009, Brother Joseph C. Walsh, Jr. officially retired from the pulpit ministry, and continued to serve the Laurel Street Church of Christ as Minister Emeritus. In July of 2010, Brother Dwight Jones resigned. Brother Walsh became the Interim Evangelist until May of 2011.
In May of 2011, Brother Courtney Caruthers,nationally known evangelist became the new minister at Laurel Street. He and his family moved from Elyria, Ohio. He had served several congregations from California to the Carolinas in his 25 year ministerial career. He initiated several new opportunities for Laurel Street. In 2012, he launched a 9/11 Salvation Gospel Meeting in the local Woodlawn Lake Park, using the social media to advertise, and baptizing several in the community. To the San Antonio area,being called Military City, it was a gesture in response for the military families and first responders of the September 11, 2001 attack on our country.
In June of 2013, Brother Caruthers resigned. AgainJoseph C. Walsh, Jr., was installed as the Interim Evangelist. Brother Jose Gutierrez was installed as theHispanic Minister on January 5, 2014. The Laurel Street congregation is now multi-cultural with 20 percent Hispanic families. Brother Rolando Romero, a local well-known bi-lingual senior minister in the Hispanic community began serving as simultaneous worship interpreter.
On August 3, 2014, Brother Timothy Shawn Price, an associate minister at the Dellcrest congregation began his tenure as Ministering Evangelist for the Laurel Street Congregation. He has served congregations in Corona, California and Leakey, Texas. He was a graduate of the Southwest School of Biblical Studies in Austin, Texas. He immediately surveyed the community and had identified himself and the Laurel Street congregation as a willing concerned group of the Lord’s people, to assist in the welfare of both the spiritual and natural man. A food distribution program was initiated in 2017, using resources from the San Antonio Food Bank. Approximately 150 families each month benefits from this community outreach. The In House Zone program with new personal, Moses George assisting, was revised to give accountability of the membership assisting the minister.
In 2017, Brother Horacio Alvarado was appointed as Minister to the Spanish speaking community. In May of 2018, the first Spanish Gospel Meeting was conducted by Brother Willie Alvarenga. Accompanying him were six brothers, students of the Brown Trail Preachers School of Bedford, TX. The Local Spanish ministry and the Community were blessed with these spiritually inspired brothers.
In March of 2019, Timothy Shawn Price submitted his resignation due to a debilitating health disorder. Again Joseph C. Walsh, Jr. was installed as Interim Evangelist to assist the congregation until the full-time ministering Evangelist begins in early 2020.
Each year for the past 19 years, during November, theLaurel Street youth have participated in the Annual Bible Bowl of South Texas, sponsored by the Weber Road church of Christ congregation in Corpus Christi, Texas. It began with six elementary aged children and expanded to 28, including Junior and Senior High School. The students have achieved every award available for their high achievements in Bible curricular. Under the oversight of our late Brother Robert Woodard, Education Director and his assistants, Amos Carpenter, Yuhunter and Vanessa Woodard, Joyce Wilson, Arnita Owens, Berdell Lindsey and several dedicated parents. The services of several single and childless sisters dedicated to the cause of Christ and the Youth Education Program rejoice yearly at the outstanding awards presentation.
As we prepare to celebrate our 85th year in the community, all honor and glory belongs to God through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The WestLaurel Street congregation has faithfully proclaimed Christ and Him crucified to San Antonio, and the near Westside community in particular, and she shall continue do this with the help of Almighty-God. The present day family stands on the shoulders of hundreds of faithful preachers and their wives, past elders,brothers and sisters. Edmund Trevino continues to serve as Youth Minister as for the past ten years.
Again the Laurel Street congregation goes forth under the blood stained banner of Jesus Christ on his foundation of the abundant life and eternal hope. Many sisters, married and single have made an indelible mark on the programs and progress that causes the West Laurel Street group to look forward to an outstanding future while serving the Lord Jesus Christ.
The congregation is presently registered as a 501©(3) corporation with trustees under the leadership of Amos Carpenter, Richard Scott, James Haley, Berdell Lindsey, Michael Owens and Harry Oliver receiving all of the benefits of tax exemption and others amenitiesfrom the Federal Government.
Sister Loretta Carpenter has assisted the congregation as office manager/secretary for over 50 years.
At the beginning of our 85th year, Laurel Street welcomes Omah Smith to continue its legacy in 2020. He is highly recommended and capable, being experienced in the ministry for over 26 years in every facet of congregational training. He has serviced congregations in Michigan, Kentucky, Tennessee and Illinois strengthening both small and large and diverse, multi-racial churches. He has obtained ministerial degrees from both university and preacher training institutions. He is a frequent speaker on national and local lectureships and has worked with local community groups to champion the cause of Christ. The West Laurel Congregation and the community are blessed and look forward to working with Brother Omah Smith and family for the next several years.
“Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” Ephesians 3:21
Historical Archive (Homecoming Booklet 1998) Robert Smith, updated 2014 Brenda Small, updated 2015-2019 and submitted by Joseph C. Walsh, Jr.