History is a chronological record of significant events that include an explanation or commentary on those events ...

This is “our” history.

On December 18, 1977, a total of eleven people attended the first worship service of what was then to be called Briarchase. Those in attendance were: Margaret Ford, Rev. Oliver Joseph Jackson, Carline Jackson, Cottrell Webster, Jackie Webster, Bobby Wilson, Mary Wilson, Anthony Wilson, Melanie Wilson, Malissa Wilson and Malinda Wilson.

It was through Dr. Bobby Wilson that the Briargate Clubhouse was acquired for the purpose of holding worship service and the efforts of Rev. Oliver Joseph Jackson (who entered into an eternal sunset November 28, 1998) for canvassing this community, as well as surrounding communities, to stir interest in the establishment of the church.

The first official business meeting was held January 8, 1978 in the home of Bobby and Mary Wilson at 15923 Chimney Rock Road, Missouri City, Texas. All persons present were voted “Chartered Members.” The members present were Carol Alderson, Patricia Ellis, Jennifer Ellis, Margaret Ford, Lonnie Hawkins, Beatrice Hawkins, Rev. Oliver Joseph Jackson, Caroline Jackson, Valencia Jackson, Donna Jackson, Cottrell Webster, Sr., Jackie Webster, Bobby L. Wilson and Mary Wilson. The members voted to name the new edifice "Briarchase Missionary Baptist Church." At this meeting, church officers were appointed. The first officers were Cottrell Webster, Sr., Chairman of the Finance Committee and Deacon Board; Bobby Wilson, Treasurer; Carline Jackson, Church Secretary; and Carol Alderson, Church Clerk. Jacqueline Webster, Margaret Ford and Mary Wilson were also appointed Sunday School Co-Superintendents. From these roots, many branches grew.

During the first year, Briarchase had a total of five candidates for baptism. The first candidates were Melanie Wilson and Shana Ellis. Later in the year, Anthony Bernard Wilson, Daisy Looney and her daughter, Cheryl Looney, were baptized as well.

Rev. Oliver Jackson was elected Pastor on January 29, 1978. Briarchase acquired its first Trustees February 8, 1978 in the persons of Pastor Oliver Jackson, Bobby Wilson and Cottrell Webster. Three deacons were ordained. Bobby Wilson, Lonnie Hawkins and Clifford Looney were ordained March 12, 1978, June 4, 1978 and November 19, 1978 respectively. At the end of the first year, the church roll reflected a total of 24 members.

Briarchase continued under the auspices of Pastor Oliver Jackson until June 28, 1979, at which time Rev Bobby Morgan and Rev. Clifford Looney were chosen Acting Co-Pastors until a permanent pastor was elected. Rev Bobby Morgan was elected pastor of Briarchase Missionary Baptist Church October 18, 1979, and the church continued under his leadership until October 13, 1992. Rev. Columbus Isabel served as interim pastor until Rev. Todd M. Wheelock was elected March 14, 1994. His tenure ended October 16, 2001. Rev. McKenzie Carter was elected pastor July 18, 2003, and officially resigned July 2, 2006.

In 1979, Lonnie Hawkins was elected Sunday School Superintendent. The church acquired two more Trustees June 21, 1979. They were Lonnie Hawkins and John Spivey. Eight new members united with Briarchase. The church roll reflected 32 members.

Under Pastor Morgan's leadership, the church experienced tremendous growth. The implementation of auxiliaries challenged members to get more involved in the study of God's word, and a desire to do more to reach out to others. Robert Gilmore and Eugene Thomas were ordained deacons August 3, 1980.

During 1980, Briarchase flourished with members who had an unwavering faith. We believed that kingdom building was our first priority. Indeed, we accepted the challenge with joy and thanksgiving. This entailed much organization for others and us. With this, leaders were chosen to head various auxiliaries and committees. The adult Usher Board (Jodie Moore, President), Junior Missionary Society (pat Ellis, President), Baptist Training Union (Eugene Thomas, Director) and Junior Choir (Lena Spivey, Director) were organized. Briarchase had twenty-three new members to unite with the Church. The church roll reflected a total of fifty-five members.

The Brotherhood was organized in 1981 with Robert Gilmore as President. Bruce Tovall was elected the Church's first auditor, and Olivia Hines was elected Church Bookkeeper. On May 13, 1981, God blessed Briarchase with three acres of land at the intersection of Hillcroft and Fondren. This was truly a great high point of our first four years.

During the fifth year, the Church experienced additional growth and many administrative changes. Twenty-seven persons were baptized, one joined by letter and seventy-one by Christian Experience. On April 28, 1982 the church adopted its first Church Constitution. During the week of June 7-11, 1982, Briarchase held its first Vacation Bible School. Total attendance was 614, averaging 122 students per day. Vacation Bible School was under the directorship of Janice Lindsey. On July14, 1982, the church membership voted to exchange the 3 acres of land acquired at Hillcroft and Fondren for 3.7 acres on Blueridge Road. Bobby Wilson heeded his calling to the ministry October 3, 1982. The General Missionary Society's First Annual Day was held November 8, 1982. The church roll reflected a total of 154 members at the end of 1982.

Columbus Isabel was ordained deacon January 9, 1983. A Groundbreaking ceremony was held at 16000 Blueridge Road, on March 23, 1983. On June 10, 1983 the 3 acres of land acquired at Hillcroft and Fondren was officially exchanged for the 3.7 acres. The foundation for the new edifice was poured August 3, 1983. Official construction began June 8, 1983. Solomon Miller heeded his calling to the ministry June 24, 1983. Briarchase had 181 persons to become members of the Church during the year of 1983. The church roll reflected a total of 335 members.

We officially moved into our new church on January 22, 1984. Dedication Ceremony was held February 12, 1984. Briarchase had its first Black History Program. The first wedding was held (Woodwork Turner and Charmelle Conviess). The General Missionary Society Care Closet opened April 14, 1984. The Church acquired two more deacons. They were Eugene Stewart and Wird Brown. The First Annual Revival was held August 20-24, 1984. A total of 165 members united with Briarchase during the year of 1984. The church roll reflected a total of 500 members.

In 1985 the educational wing was completed on January 16, 1985, two new Trustees were elected. They were Columbus Isabel and Morris English. The Church had its First Educational Workshop February 23, 1985. The first Celebration of Love Banquet was held June 28, 1985. The first Annual Women's Day was held July 14, 1985. During the year of 1985 a number of activities occurred: Briarchase had its First Beautification Day, the Evangelistic Outreach Committee and the Pastor's Aid Committee was organized. The Church voted to support Sharon Walker's Campus Crusade Ministry at Jackson State University. The School After School Program was organized, under the directorship of Willie Hughes; the Church held its First Bazaar and Rev. Horace Price and Rev. Jeffrey Webber families united with Briarchase. There were a total of 68 members to join the Church in 1985. The Church roll now reflected a total of 568 members.

On April 16, 1986 the Trustees retired the second mortgage debt. Briarchase was blessed with the addition of five new deacons in 1986. Ronald Alderson, Herman Autry, and Anthony Baptiste were ordained April 22, 1986. Raymond Robertson and Roswell Smith came to the Church as ordained deacons. Deacons Columbus Isabel and Eugene Thomas answered their calling to the ministry. The Jail Ministry was initiated and the Trustees purchased an acre of land adjacent to the present property. New members training classes began under the leadership of Rev. Jeffrey Webber. The Educational Department sponsored a successful Marriage Workshop. The General Missionary Society initiated some firsts at Briarchase. They were, "The First Coming Out Ceremony, and the First Prayer Retreat." Briarchase was blessed with the uniting of 160 new members. The total Church roll reflected 728 members.

In 1987 the Prayer Ministry was instituted. Family and Friends Day was observed April 26,1987. The Youth Department sponsored an educational tour to Washington, D.C. The Education Department sponsored a trip to the Ozark Mountains in Eureka Springs, Arkansas to view the Great Passion Play. Pastor Morgan chose Rev. Eugene Thomas as the Minister of Youth, Rev. Columbus Isabel, Minister of Music, and Rev. Jeffrey Webber as Minister of Evangelism. Sixty-four new members united with the Church. The total Church enrollment for the year reflected 792 members.

During the year of 1988, Pastor Morgan introduced a new theme for the Church, "Getting Back to the Basics." A ten years plan was unveiled for future direction of the Church. The following positions were added to the Church's Constitution: Ministers of Youth, Music and Evangelism, and an Administrative Assistant. The Quarterly Business Meeting Day was changed from Wednesday night following the second Sunday of January, April, July and the Wednesday night after the second Sunday in October as the Annual Meeting to Tuesday in the indicated months. Ronald Smith answered his calling to the ministry. Total new members for the year were 81. Total Church roll was 873.

In recognition of future growth, the Trustees were given permission to purchase an additional acre of land in the vicinity of the Church in 1989. The General Missionary Society initiated a scholarship pledge drive that was a great success. Bro. Warner volunteered to serve as Maintenance Administrator of the Church. The Church approved the purchase of a new piano. A total of 62 members united with Briarchase. The Church roll reflected a total of 935 members.

We were richly blessed in 1990. We had a successful Fiesta Dinner to benefit the Sunday School and BTU. The Youth Department excursion took them to Atlanta, Georgia, New York, Chicago, Canada, and many other scenic places. The Church hosted the largest fundraiser in the history of Briarchase, "The Rainbow Tea." The fundraiser was spearheaded by Sister Lena Spivey. Net proceeds were donated to the Youth Department. The Love Banquet was a great success and most profitable of the previous banquets. Its net proceeds were donated to the Scholarship Fund. The General Missionary Society's Radiant Women In White Day was a tremendous blessing. All proceeds were donated to the Benevolent Fund. The Church increased its Bible classes from two to five in order to provide a variety of enrichment for God's people. Our Minister of Youth and his family were relocated to Cincinnati, Ohio. A total of 31 members united with Briarchase as of the last Quarterly Business Meeting which was held October 16, 1990. The Church roll reflected a total of 966 members.

The next decade brought about additional changes and rich blessings. The highlight of it all came when the Lord blessed Briarchase Missionary Baptist Church to liquidate the mortgage and witness a Mortgage Burning Ceremony at our Church's Eighteenth Anniversary, which was held the third Sunday in December 1995.

The Church focused on service. We began to focus on such demanding missions as feeding the hungry, educating our community about AIDS, breast cancer awareness, children raising children, eradicating drugs in our communities and other unified goals and objectives to help reach out to humankind.

Briarchase Missionary Baptist Church has been blessed. The Church membership has increased from fourteen Charter members to a Church roll that has reflected a membership of over 1,000 members who has united with Briarchase as Charter members, members by letter, members by Christian experience or Baptism, since its inception.

These are a few other notable moments in the history of Briarchase. The Annett Garr Schultz family donated a financial gift to the church in the amount of $10,000 in 2003, to help provide scholarships funds to assist students in their college endeavors. Briarchase reached out in a loving and caring way to help people affected by the two greatest disasters recorded in modem history, the Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. Thousands of dollars were collected and donated to various charities that assisted the victims in various ways. We are now blessed with 10.7 acres of land. The founders had an incredible vision for the development of this property. They envisioned a state-of-the-art complex with a beautiful edifice, a multipurpose center, a bank, a credit union, a bakery, a bookstore, a theatre and a school with grades K-12.

We are now entering a new phase at Briarchase. On April 21, 2009, Larry L. Grant was elected senior pastor.

Briarchase Missionary Baptist Church shines as a paradigm of times, illuminating the past, the present, and the possibilities for a blessed future, in which there will be a written poignant tribute to its spiritual greatness.

Yours in Christ Jesus,

Mary Ann Wilson

Briarchase Historian

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