In 1866, members of Antioch worshiped under a "bush arbor" erected on the edge of Buffalo Bayou. And as membership grew, a box-house type structure was constructed at "Baptist Hill" (on the corner of Rusk and Bagby) for church ministry and service.
During the tenure of Reverend Jack Yates, the membership of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church grew more than four-fold. The box house at "Baptist Hill" could no longer accommodate the growing congregation adequately.
In 1873, a Board of Trustees, consisting of Ed Cravey, Richard Allen and Henry Dotson was elected to purchase land and make arrangements for constructing a brick house. Two lots were purchased and deeded to the membership of Antioch while funds were subscribed from members. The cornerstone was laid on the 15th day of May in 1875. The men of the congregation hand made and laid the brick free of charge, and the women provided the men with a free noon-day meals.
The church was designed and built by Richard Allen, an architect, and member of the 12th Legislative session (the first Texas Legislative session in which Blacks served).
Four years later, on the first Sunday in August 1879, the congregation marched from “Old Baptist Hill” to the new brick church on Robin Street, which is Antioch’s present site.
The church, located in the center of Freedman’s Town, was the first brick structure in Houston to be built and owned by African-Americans.
The second floor was added during the first part of the administration of Reverend Fredrick Lights and the south and west wings were added near the end of his tenure. Reverend Lights recommended the present semi-circle structure for the sanctuary; installed seven ceiling fans for the comfort of the congregation; and replaced a single spire with four small spires on the tower. A baptistry, pipe organ and electric lights were also installed in the sanctuary.
During the administration of Reverend Thomas Goodall, the “old red brick church” was completely remodeled. The finance room, choir room, pastor’s study and prayer room were added to the structure.
Additionally, the tower was screened, lights were installed, the sign “Jesus Saves” was placed on the tower, the organ was rebuilt and a beautiful art glass window was placed in the sanctuary.
Renovation of the downstairs auditorium began under the leadership of Reverend John Westbrook, and completed under Reverend Michael Williams who also added speakers and microphones in the sanctuary.
The Gothic features of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, with pointed arch windows and doors, have been nationally acclaimed. And, today's members still worship in the sanctuary's original handmade pews.
Amidst the skyscrapers of Houston, Antioch Missionary Baptist Church continues to serve the needs of her people and community, proudly proclaiming the message: Jesus Saves.