Galilee Family, Community Celebrate Pastor, First Lady’s 29 Years of Service and the Power of God in Acres Homes
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time”
– I Peter 5:6 NKJV
HOUSTON-The Black Church has historically been a source of hope and strength for the African American community.
Since 1913, the Galilee Missionary Baptist Church has been and is a strong rock and a moral staple in Acres Homes community and has helped shaped Black History in the neighborhood and the lives of generations of Black youth.
From its efforts have come many solid and productive citizens making positive contributions here and in other communities in Houston, around Texas and other parts of this country and the world.
Galilee Missionary Baptist Church was organized by the late Rev. D. Hartman with only a few members present. It has served as one of the strong religious pillars of Acres Homes.
Since its founding and now under the present leadership of Rev. Dr. Edwin A. Davis and First Lady Dr. Charlotte J. Davis, the Galilee MBC has grown to over 2500 members and many continue to be added to the church family.
Those great accomplishments By Galilee MBC in Acres Homes were remembered, recognized and noted by business and community leaders, elected officials, colleagues, fellow pastors and long-time friends in a special 29th Pastoral Anniversary Banquet honoring Rev. Dr. Edwin A. Davis and First Lady Dr. Charlotte J. Davis for their service to Galilee MBC and the community.
The event took place at the Doubletree Houston Intercontinental Airport by Hilton
Black Church Origins
According to an article in the African American Registry on “The Black Church: A Brief History”, The Black Church was organized politically and spiritually, and not only given to the teachings of Christianity but also were faithfully relied upon to address the specific issues which affected their members.
For many African-American Christians, regardless of their denominational differences, Black Churches have always represented their religion, community, and home. Scholars have repeatedly asserted that Black history and Black church history overlap enough to be virtually identical.
One of the First known Black churches in America was created before the American Revolution, around 1758. Called the African Baptist or “Bluestone” Church, this house of worship was founded on the William Byrd Plantation near the Bluestone River, in Mecklenburg, Virginia.
Africans at the time believed that only adult baptism by total immersion was doctrinally correct.
The First African Baptist Church of Savannah, Georgia which began in 1777. This is said to be the oldest Black church in North America. Originally called the First Colored Church the pastoral life of George Leile’s preaching is tied to its beginning.
In 1787, Blacks in Philadelphia organized the Free African Society, the first organized Afro-American society, and Absalom Jones and Richard Allen were elected as overseers. They established contact and created relationships with similar Black groups in other cities.
The banquet featured Ronald Green as Master of the Hour and music by the
, a saxophone duet by father and son, Gregory “Saxman Daniels Sr. and Gregory “Lil” Saxman Daniels II and special appearances and statements by District 18 Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee; Hon. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner; Harris County Precinct 1 Constable Alan Rosen; Yale Street Baptist Church Pastor T. Leon Preston II; and African American News and Issues Publisher Roy Douglas Malonson.
The event was highlighted also by the Parade of Hats and a fashion show hosted by CLW & Forty Plus Models Inc.
The theme of this year’s celebration was “An Humble Servant Enhancing Spiritual Growth”.
Mayor Turner called the Davis’s a strong team and role models for Houston, the church and Acres Homes community.
He said to see both of them in action is to understand the real meaning of service, dedication and commitment.
“We are better for their leadership,” he said. “They are not only gifted, but God also has his hand on him(Pastor Davis) and the first lady.”
During his keynote address, Turner also praised the work of the Dr. Davis and First Lady Davis and the Galilee Church for its shiny example in Acres Homes.
He also stressed that dreams do come true and that whatever one perceives he or she can achieve, especially when God, love and unity are part of the equation. He also called for unity and cooperation between church and community as he works on the vision for a better Houston communities.
The transformation of neighborhoods will not happen overnight, but will result in progress and prosperity for the best in Acres Homes and other disadvantaged areas of the city without pushing people out, he said.
Congresswoman Jackson Lee saluted Pastor Davis and First Lady Davis for the dedicated and tireless work both have done for the community and for demonstrating what it means to be driven by God’s principles.
“They are a power couple worthy of our trust,” she said. “God bless your example and our prayer is for many more years of health and service in Acres Homes and in our community.”
She praised First Lady Davis, especially for her inspiring work with youth in the Aldine School District as counselor, encourager and a nurturer.
In appreciation of their service, Jackson Lee presented Pastor Davis with an inscribed autographed lapel pin from 44th President Barack Obama and also for the First Lady Davis, she gave a United States flag that was flown at the U.S. Capital Building in Washington, D.C.
About the Honorees
Rev. Dr. Edwin Allen Davis
Rev. Davis is an inspirational preacher, teacher, administrator, director and musician at Galilee Missionary Baptist Church.
He was born February 15, 1954 in Houston, Texas to Chester A. and Loyce M. Davis (Tennard). He was reared in Third Ward by his grandmother, Mrs. Ophelia P. Davis who had a great impact on his life. Rev. Davis was baptized by the late Rev. N. C. Crain and received his early religious training at St. John Missionary Baptist Church, 2222 Gray, Houston, Texas.
Rev. Davis received his educational training in the Houston Public School System. He attended J. Will Jones Elementary, Miller Junior High and is a graduate of Houston Technical Institute (formerly San Jacinto Senior High School) in January of 1972. Rev. Davis attended Texas Southern University where he majored in Pharmacy and Accounting. He is a graduate of the University of Houston receiving a B.S. degree in Criminal Justice in May of 1988.
He later earned a Master of Arts degree in Theology from the Houston Graduate School of Theology Seminary in May of 1990 and a Master of Education in Counseling from Prairie View A & M University in May of 1993. Additionally, he has earned a Master of Divinity degree from the Houston Graduate School of Theology Seminary in May of 1997. He then went on to earn a Doctorate of Education from the University of Houston Central Campus in 2004. Dr. Davis received “An Honorary Doctorate of Divinity” from Saint Thomas Christian College, Jacksonville Florida on May 20, 2007.
Dr. Davis is an accomplished musician. He plays both the piano and organ. Before his call to the ministry he served as musician for several churches in the Houston area.
In November 1987, Rev. Davis was called to pastor the Galilee Missionary Baptist Church at 6616 D.S. Bailey Lane, Houston, Texas.
After twenty-eight years of service in March 2006, Pastor Davis retired from the Houston Police Department. During his tenure with HPD he was appointed by then Chief of Police, Sam Nuchia to the prestigious position of Chaplain. He was the first Afro American Chaplain of the Houston Police Department.
In January 2009 and while working in the Harris County Sheriff Department’s Community Relations Division, Dr. Davis was appointed by Sheriff Adrian Garcia to the eminent position of Major.
Dr. Charlotte J. Davis
She is a native Houstonian who grew up in the Studewood community. Her educational career began in the public school system, graduating as valedictorian from Booker T. Washington High School.
She confessed Christ as her Savior, and was baptized at an early age at Greater New Hope Baptist church by the late Reverend Herman Price.
Her love for Christ and church has always been the foundation for which she stands and builds upon.
Also, passionate about education, she began her collegiate studies with Sam Houston State University receiving a Bachelor of Business Administration with a major in Accounting. For several years she worked as an accountant before returning to school to receive a Masters in Education/ Counseling.
This accomplishment allowed her to follow her true desire – helping young people.
Her career path titled her as a High School counselor where she served for several years in that capacity before furthering her education and receiving a second Masters in Education/Administration.
Again God’s favor prevailed in her career promoting her to an Assistant Principal position for a local school district and currently she serves as the Director of Guidance and Counseling. On August 5, 2006, Charlotte J. Davis received her Doctorate of Philosophy in Counseling Education from Sam Houston State University.
As First Lady of the Galilee MBC, her example is service and her obedience is humble. She serves as President of the Deaconess’ and Ministers’ Wives Ministry, and a teacher in the Children Ministry and as Chairperson for Galilee MBC Scholarship Foundation.
She believes in giving God all the glory and praise for all that He has done in her life, and loves God with all her heart and soul
Dr. Davis and Dr. Charlotte J. Davis and have four lovely children – Eric, Erica, Chelsea and Courtney.
Both are excellent role models and mentors for the children of Houston, Texas.
Galilee MBC History
Deacons and Trustees that were in the 1913 church organization were Brothers Lee Turner, Silas Hays, John Spencer, George Keener and Jacob Richardson.
Later, the membership grew after a few years and Rev. W. H. Sanders was later called to pastor. Other ministers served the Galilee Church for short periods included: Rev. W. A. Haynes and Rev. Hurd.
In 1920, Rev. J. C. Smith was called to Pastor and he served for twenty-five years.
In 1947, Rev. D. S. Bailey was called and under his leadership Galilee MBC and the church continued to grow.
The church was rebuilt in 1948 after fire damaged the structure under the guidance of Pastor Bailey, Deacons Ralph Burleson, Teate Allen, Green Stewart, Reber Jackson, A. C. Booker, Sr., Riley Johnson and Alfred Johnson. It was under this same leadership that Brother Arthur Lewis was ordained Deacon after serving as Superintendent of Sunday School for two years.
The membership continued to thrive and several Trustees were added including: Brothers William Sheffield, H. B. Turner, Marcus Johnson, B. H. Johnson and Clem Jones. New Deacons were also added and ordained: A. Farris, H. D. Jones, Tom Dogan, Jessie Harrison, Albert Davis, Lee B. Yates and Howard Overshown. Other Trustees added were Brother Jessie Lewis and George Johnson, Jr.
In 1961 Deacons and Trustees rebuilt the edifice for the second time under the leadership of Rev. D.S. Bailey. Also, the late Brothers William Sheffield and H.B. Turner provided very capable leadership during this period.
Galilee continued to grow with auxiliaries fully organized and after moving into our new building in 1961, other Deacons were ordained that included Deacons Lee Shepard, Chester McKay and other Trustees: Brothers Sam Kallie, Arnold Collins, George Johnson III, Lee Eddie Lewis, Carl Carter, Clarence Roberts, James Bailey, Robert Grant, Eugene Frank, E. L. Cole, Ransom Craddock, Johnny Collins, E. V. Grant, George Hunter, Howard Overshown, Jr., and Freddie White.
In March 1977, God called Pastor D. S. Bailey to eternal rest.
Rev. E. J. Booker was called to Pastor and more new Deacons and Trustees were added including: Brothers Frank Bracks, Emanuel Law, Genoa Freeman, Solomon Cheney, Arron Campbell, James Gulley, Cornelius Wilkerson, Turner Hector, and Clayton Wright.
Rev. Booker served until August of 1987.
In December 1987 the church prayerfully called Rev. Edwin A. Davis to serve as Pastor where he has faithfully served for 29 years.
Black Church Influence Powerful in Small/Large Communities Throughout History
Information from the African American Registry indicates the end of the Confederacy signaled freedom for millions of southern black slaves and prompted the emancipation of the black church.
This started the emergence of the black church as a separate institution.
Post -Civil War:
After emancipation, black churches became virtually the only place for African-Americans to find refuge. Blacks moved away from the “hush-harbors” that they retreated to for solace as slaves. Formally during this time a church separation petition was filed by thirty-eight black members of the predominantly white Fairfield Baptist Church in Northumberland County, Virginia, in 1867. Referring to the new political and social status of African Americans, the petitioners said they wanted to “place ourselves where we could best promote our mutual good” and suggested “a separate church organization as the best possible way. A month later the white members of the church unanimously acceded to the petitioners’ request, setting the stage for the creation of the all-black Shiloh Baptist Church.
Once established, Black Churches spread rapidly throughout the South; the Baptist churches led in this proliferation.
Between World War I and World War II,
The black church continued to be not only an arena of social and political life for the leaders of blacks; it had a political meaning for the masses. Although they were denied the right to vote in the American community, within their churches, especially the Methodist Churches, they could vote and engage in electing their officers. The election of bishops and other officers and representatives to conventions has been a serious activity for the masses of blacks.
Almost a century ago the Black church was an organizational site for social and political activities, centers for economic development and growth. As microcosms of the larger society, Black churches provided an environment free of oppression and racism for African-Americans. In black churches, African-Americans were consistently exposed to social, political, and economic opportunities whichcould be sought and had by all members equally. The representational structure of African-American churches confirmed Black preachers as both religious and community leaders.
Civil Right Era:
During the Civil Rights era, Black churches were well established social and political power bases for African-Americans. Their enormous presence naturally, sanctioned them with the political power to lead Black people in the movement for civil rights. Some churches and their organizations were completely opposed to any involvement in the political struggle for civil rights. Others chose to participate and did so passionately, organizing by rallies, protests, and marches, while teaching Christianity and community involvement.
In the late 1940’s, 50’s, and 60’s, the Black Church functioned as the institutional center for Black mobilization. They provided an organizational base and meeting place, for African-Americans to strategize their moves in the ongoing fight against racial segregation and oppression.
In the 21st century, the Black Church is also at a crossroads due to ‘WhiteFlight,” gentrification and systemic capitalism.
However, despite some changes, the overall organizations remain important to African American religious life.
First Lady Dr. Davis capped off the celebratory evening with several funny stories about the Davis household and humorous accounts about her wonderful husband’s lighter life challenges.
Chairman Malonson’s words summed up the occasion linking it the powerful examples of Galilee and its overall importance to Black history.
He cited the Davis family’s positive example and close connection to Acres Homes history and Black history.
“We have known them for a long time and Galilee is very fortunate to have Dr. and Sis Dr Davis,” he said. “They are a couple who have not forgot where they came from. We love you for your 29 years in Acres Homes and your commitment and valuable work in the community.”
By Darwin Campbell, African American News and Issues
Photo Credit: Anthony Stewart
*The Center for African American Ministries and Black Church Studies contributed historical background to this article
*An Encyclopedia of African American Christian Heritage Historical contributed to this article