In January of 1866, seven months after slaves were freed in Texas (June 19, 1865), a small group of freed slaves organized the first African American Baptist Church in Houston, Texas. They were assisted by the First Baptist Church and missionaries.
After holding worship services at the First Baptist Church and the German Baptist Church, they began to hold services on Buffalo Bayou in a "Brush Arbor." Later, they moved to "Baptist Hill" located at Rusk and Bagby until the present site was purchased. Services were conducted by ministers who traveled to different locations, at stated times.
In 1868, one of Antioch's members, Jack Yates, was ordained at the first Association meeting for African American Baptist Churches. This was the first National Baptist Convention. Rev. Jack Yates became the first pastor of Antioch.
As the membership grew and additional space was needed, Rev. Yates led the church to purchase its present site and build a brick structure. The church, located in the center of Freedman's Town, was the center of activity for the African-American community. It was the first brick structure built and owned by African-Americans in Houston.
Antioch provided the former slaves with opportunities to learn not only about God, but also provided ministries to help them develop educationally, economically and socially.
The first educational opportunity for freed African-Americans began at Antioch. With the help of two missionaries, Rev. Yates began the Baptist Academy. The Baptist Academy taught fundamentals such as: reading, writing, and arithmetic,; in addition to trades, thus enabling men and women to start their own businesses. The Baptist Academy later became Houston College. Houston College was the forerunner of Texas Southern University.
Economic development and recreational activities were also encouraged and supported at Antioch. The Old Landmark Baptist Association of Texas was organized at Antioch. Under Rev. Yates' leadership, members were encouraged and assisted in buying property, owning homes and businesses.
The Emancipation Park, in conjunction with Trinity Methodist Church, was purchased for recreational activities and community celebrations, such as the 19th of June.
With the vision and support of Rev. Yates and Antioch, the first African-American College in the state of Texas began . This was Bishop College.
Just as they did then, Antioch's congregation and leaders continue to provide needed and vital services to the Houston community.