A History of Cypress-Fairbanks church of Christ
The history of the Cypress-Fairbanks church of Christ is one of service and growth in the kingdom of God. The area now known as Cy-Fair in Harris County, Texas was once quite rural and distant from the city of Houston. In 1942, two school districts (Cypress and Fairbanks) consolidated into one district, thereby giving the name Cypress-Fairbanks to the area it served. Today, simply known as Cy-Fair, the area in which the church is located is a suburban community to Houston, the largest city in Texas and the fourth largest city in the United States. The Cy-Fair ISD is the third largest school district in the state.
In late 1962, plans were formulated for the establishment of a new congregation in northwest Harris County to be located near the main thoroughfare, Hempstead Highway, now known as U.S. 290. Families from both the Spring Branch and Oak Forest churches in Houston came together to form the new congregation. For the first year or two, until property could be acquired and a meeting place erected, the church met at the Post Elementary School in Jersey Village. The church consisted of about five families in the beginning. According to a church bulletin, dated March 25, 1963, this is what was stated to the public about the new church. It was distributed to the community as a prospectus, seeking to identify families living in the area interested in joining the new work:
THE CHURCH OF CHRIST IN CYPRESS-FAIRBANKS
Five families have begun meeting temporarily in the Post Elementary School in Jersey Village and permanent facilities are being sought in the Cypress-Fairbanks area. Brethren from Oak Forest and Spring Branch congregations go to make up the nucleus. Great zeal has already been shown by this group of Christians and we are moving ahead in the Lord’s work with fervent plans and hopes for the future. We intend to strengthen ourselves in the word of God and take a firm stand against all worldliness and all other encroachments upon the church of our Lord. A special emphasis will be placed upon the authority of the Scripture for things practiced in worship and personal life.
Services were planned from the very beginning to include the observance of the Lord’s Supper on Sundays, along with preaching at both morning and evening services. Bible classes met on Sunday mornings and Thursday evenings. Fred Melton served as the first preacher for the congregation. Don Medlin also took a leading part in the affairs of the new church. Early families in the church included the Meltons, Medlins, Cranfords, Guthries, Lees, and Webbs. A church bulletin from March 5, 1964 indicated that the number in attendance that past Lord’s Day was 33, with a contribution of $67.31. The congregation was mailing a monthly bulletin to about 1,400-5,000 addresses in the area, attempting to interest people in the cause of Christ. The March 5, 1964 bulletin also indicated that they had purchased some land (on Hempstead Highway just beyond Cy-Fair High School) on which they were setting up a building in which to meet. The men of the church had been making repairs to the building, which was actually a portable office building formerly used by a subdivision developer. They had repainted it, replaced broken windows and set out shrubbery around the exterior. Plans were set to occupy the church building by the first Sunday in May, 1964. The June, 1964 bulletin indicated that the church was then meeting in its new location on Hempstead Highway. A Gospel Meeting was held in the new location from June 4-7, 1964 with Joe McGaw of Nashville, Tennessee doing the preaching.
Local preachers in the years from 1962-1971 were Fred Melton, James Wilson, and Richard Cravy. There were no elders in those years, but the men handled the affairs of the church in monthly business meetings, in which parliamentary law was the agreed upon rule of conducting those meetings. In November, 1971 W.E. “Bud” Irvine was invited to be the evangelist for the congregation, and he served effectively until his departure in 1976. The 1976 church directory contained the names of 77 persons who were associated with the Cy-Fair church. During this period, (1974-75) a new church building was constructed on the U.S. 290 property. In the first ten years on the 290 property, the original building had been added to, modified, and finally needed to be replaced. Additional property at the site was secured and the new facility was constructed. Following Bud Irvine, Bill Crews came to work with the church as an evangelist in 1976 and continued in that role until he relocated to Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1984. These were years of significant numerical growth for the church. By June 1983, the membership directory contained 161 names, but the church still had no eldership to oversee its affairs and watch for the souls of its members.
In July 1984, Mike, Ginny, Tracie, and Erin DuBose came to work and worship with the Cy-Fair congregation, still meeting on Hempstead Highway. The DuBoses had previously labored in Panama City, Florida. The church was in its 21st year of existence, was numerically strong, well- taught and spiritually-focused, but hampered because of a lack of full organization with elders and deacons. Mike DuBose was a relatively young and energetic preacher upon his arrival, and with the help of the brethren, went to work on moving the church in the right direction of complete organization. By January 1985, the first elders at Cy-Fair were appointed. Both men selected as elders, Robert Berry and Gene Perkins, had been longtime members and leaders in the Cy-Fair church. An unexpected job transfer for Gene Perkins to Colorado in May 1985 threatened to leave the church shepherd-less once again, but the Lord made provision for His people with the appointment of Tom Smitherman to the eldership along with Robert Berry that same Spring.
Since 1985, the church has been blessed with the continual leadership and oversight of good elders. Serving since that time has been Robert Berry, Gene Perkins, Tom Smitherman, John Murphy, Randy Nelson, Jerry Bolls, James Beard, Mike DuBose, Gerald Wise, Rick Bilberry, and Ray Beltran. Deacons were soon appointed after the first eldership, and men serving in that capacity over the years includes Weldon Adair, Jerry Bolls, Kenny Effinger, Randy Nelson, Bob Snapp, John Hart, Dennis Bradley, Rick Bilberry, Gerald Wise, Rusty Goff, Scott Barker, Tim Cook, Derek Bolls, Troy Treat, Hal Hammons, Ken Colvin, Guy Dow, Bill Olson, Grady Persell, Albert Arechiga, Randy Wright, Rodney Glawson, Clark Laughlin, Curtis Thetford, Ray Beltran, and Jason Bollman.
Crowded conditions in the building and lack of space for expansion soon forced the church to seek other property on which to locate for worship and work. In the 1980s, plans were made to secure property at 14330 Cypress-North Houston Road, our present location. In 1990, the church completed its move into its present facility, a building which has been adequate for nearly half of the church’s history. The cost of the building was approximately $465,000. In recent years, additional lots next door to us were purchased for future expansion needs. In September 1991, the year after moving into this building, the Cy-Fair church directory contained the names of 216 souls. There were four elders, six deacons and one preacher serving the church at that time.
Gospel meetings have always been a feature of our work of evangelism and edification. Men who have held meetings at Cy-Fair through the years include Fred Melton, Dan Shipley, H. Osby Weaver, Robert F. Turner, Ed Harrell, Sewell Hall, Dee Bowman, W.R. Jones, Pat Jones, Robert Jackson, Robert Harkrider, R. J. Stevens, David Smitherman, Bill Hall, Mark White, Bob F. Owen, David Banning, Russ Bowman, Max Dawson, and Connie W. Adams, to name only a few. Vacation Bible Schools have also been utilized in our teaching program as well as a wide variety of regular Bible classes for all ages, men’s and women’s Bible classes, and home Bible studies.
From the beginning of the Cy-Fair church in 1962, the members were determined to do as much as they could possibly do in the support of preachers in both foreign and domestic fields. The first bulletin, published as a prospectus of their work on March 25, 1963, stated this:
The church in Cypress-Fairbanks has already begun aiding in the support of four sound gospel preachers in foreign fields. Bob Tuten (Bergen, Norway) James Jones (Norway) Joaquin Blengio (Spanish work, Raymondville, TX) Billy Dollar (Temple, TX). All of these men will receive a token support of $25 each per month to begin with. This support will be increased as the work here progresses.
Even though the fledgling church meeting in the Post Elementary School auditorium had no meeting place of its own, they were determined to do what they could. That same spirit characterizes the Cy-Fair congregation from its beginning until now. A reading of business meeting minutes through the years, even when there were no elders overseeing the church, reveals careful attention being paid to opportunities for supporting evangelists all over the world, as ability allowed. Even more work is being done today, and the eldership continually seeks worthy preachers to support in carrying the gospel to places it needs to go, with the encouragement of the church.
When the Cy-Fair church began, churches of Christ across the United States were embroiled in controversy over whether the church was authorized to use its funds to support human institutions such as colleges, orphanages, and hospitals. These controversies extended to whether or not one congregation could scripturally set itself up as a “sponsoring church”, overseeing the funds of several congregations in joint evangelistic work, such as the very popular “Herald of Truth” television program sponsored by the Fifth and Highland church in Abilene at the time. When Cy-Fair began, some churches of Christ were adding kitchens and dining halls to their facilities. The brethren studied these questions carefully, and even without elders, determined to stand for the truth in these and other related matters. They insisted on Bible authority for their teaching and practice. Of course, much pressure was applied to the new church to conform to the mainstream. Some members came and went during this period, but no open division of the church occurred because of these issues. That was not true in most other congregations in the 1960s. Significantly, the Cy-Fair church did not begin as a result of a division. The initial members came from other faithful congregations at the time. Still, it would have been easy for them to follow the popular trend of the day and accept the church support of human institutions, the social gospel, and the sponsoring church arrangement. To their credit, they did not do so. The church at Cy-Fair has been opposed to these innovations through the years, but we have also been a very active church in doing God’s work in God’s way.
Mike DuBose’s long and productive tenure as Cy-Fair’s preacher was ended due to his much-lamented death in July, 2012. Prior to his illness, however, he and the other elders had determined that the time was right for a second full-time evangelist to join the work of the church. Drew Jones was selected to join Mike in the work, and did so in December, 2011 coming from a preacher training program in Florence, Alabama. During Mike’s years as the evangelist and also as an elder at Cy-Fair, several young preachers worked and trained with him. Among them were Steve Garrett (of Tennessee), Jamie Houchen, David Raif, Steve Bergman, and Nick Soyars. Through the years, other young men from the church here also became Gospel preachers, including Keiran Murphy, Robert Raif, and Zachary Olson, to name just a few.
In the summer of 2013, the elders invited Mark, Beth and Liam White to join themselves to the Cy-Fair church. Mark had previously served fourteen years as the preacher for the College View church of Christ in Florence, Alabama. He had also worked as an evangelist in Houston previously with the Fry Road church, from 1996-99.
In the years since relocating our meeting place to 14330 Cypress-North Houston Road, the church has continued to grow both numerically and spiritually. Given the nature of working and living in the greater Houston area, there is a considerable amount of turnover each year in the membership of the church. As a suburban church, most of our young people are able to find work in the area and remain with us as they become independent adults. The church is composed of a large variety of Christians from all walks of life. The Cy-Fair congregation is a perfect demonstration of the diversity of the kingdom of God at large, with many races and nationalities represented in its membership. Our members literally travel across the world due to their employment in the petro-chemical industry and related businesses. This gives the church both an international composition and an awareness of the need to “go into all the world” with the Gospel (Matt. 28:18-20). Cy-Fair supports evangelists in Europe, Asia, Africa, and North, Central and South America. Locally, we are blessed with a steady flow of visitors to our assemblies and classes, providing us many opportunities to evangelize at home as well. As of December 2014, our church directory contains the names of 289 souls, the largest number ever listed in a Directory in our history. Presently, two elders, ten deacons, and two preachers serve the church.
The history of the Cy-Fair church is not complete without mentioning the contributions of the many sisters in Christ who have been a vital, essential part of this family over the years. Our women do not have their names listed as elders, deacons, or preachers but each of these men could not have been what they were and are without the support and godly influence of their wives. The Lord’s earthly ministry included the aid of certain women, some of whom are named in Scripture, but others who are not (Mark 15:40-41). The record of the New Testament churches will often include the names of some sisters in Christ who received special mention because of their service in the Kingdom. The Cy-Fair church has been composed of a host of faithful women who were and are significant teachers of the Word. Just think of all the children and women who have been taught about the Gospel by the faithful sisters in our number. We must remember that our women have fed the hungry, clothed the naked, comforted the distressed and the bereaved, cleaned the building, cared for the lawn, aided the evangelists, prayed for the sick, raised our children in the faith, prepared the Lord’s Supper, laundered the baptismal garments, sung the hymns, restored the erring, mentored the novices, studied the Bible and made their stand for the truth. Like Phoebe (Rom. 16:1) “a servant of the church in Cenchrea” we have our female servants of the church, too.
The Cy-Fair church of Christ is certainly not a perfect congregation, for we have our challenges, limitations, and areas of needed improvement. But the consensual aim of the membership is to please God and glorify Christ in all things. From our beginning until now – for 52 years – each generation has desired to know the Lord’s will and serve His purposes in the world. We have sought to be “the called out” in this community, living up to the high and noble goal of truly being a “church of Christ.” May God continue to bless our pursuit of righteousness, and may He defeat us if we attempt to go where His Word does not lead us.
—Mark W. White
December 8, 2014