South Avenue Church History
The population of Pasadena in 1953 was 22,438. It is over 150,000 now. Highway 225 was then Sterling Drive, a two-lane highway. South Avenue was a two-lane street.
The Deepwater community was located between South Avenue and Deepwater Street, Sterling Drive and Hays. No other streets were open. The area’s one school, Deepwater Elementary, was located on Glenmore.
South Avenue Baptist Church began as a mission, sponsored by First Baptist Church, Pasadena, which was pastored by Dr. L. D. Morgan. The first service of the mission was held on July 19, 1953, in what is now our middle building. Rev. J. R. “Bob” Pearce was the mission pastor. One hundred twenty-four people attended Sunday School that day, and thirty-three joined the church.
South Avenue Baptist Church was organized as a church from the mission on March 24, 1954, with one hundred eighty members. The physical plant evolved as shown by the following events:
1953 The middle building was built.
1954 The sanctuary building was built for worship and education.
1960 The first story of the office building was erected.
1965 The second floor was added to the office building.
1982 The second floor of the sanctuary building was renovated for adult education.
1987 The final payment was made on all church buildings and property.
1999 The sanctuary was completely renovated.
2001 The middle building was renovated.
2017 The elevator building was built beside the sanctuary
Since the beginning of our church, over 4500 people have joined South Avenue.
In recent years our church has helped two Hispanic Baptist churches by providing a meeting place for them in our middle building.
Years ago, South Avenue Baptist Church adopted a motto: “A burning lighthouse for a coming Savior.” For over half a century, this church has brought the light of that Savior, Jesus Christ, to hundreds of people in Pasadena and Deer Park. We remember with gratitude the godly men who have served through the years as our pastors and other ministerial staff. We thank God also for the countless lay leaders who have helped build a true lighthouse for the Kingdom of God right here in North Pasadena.
A lot has changed over the years. Our city has changed, and so has our neighborhood. South Avenue became Preston Road in 1997. Like all churches, we continue to seek new ways to reach new generations and different kinds of people. But the most important things are as true today as they were in 1953. Our mission hasn’t changed. Thousands still live in spiritual darkness within walking distance of our church, and we are called to bring them the Light of the World. Our message hasn’t changed. All who call on the name of the Lord are still saved by His wonderful grace.
Best of all, our Messiah hasn’t changed. Jesus Christ is still the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is still the head of the Church, and we are supremely honored to be His people, His army, His servants. We thank Him for His faithfulness in the past and look forward to His mighty works in and through us in the future.
Pastors of South Avenue Baptist Church
Rev. J. R. Pearce July 1953 – December 1964
Rev. Lewis McDonald May 1965 – March 1971
Rev. Tommy Kimball June 1971 – May 1977
Rev. A. Duane Spikes January 1978 – May 1982
Rev. Meredith Hair October 1982 – March 2000
Dr. Jeff Berger June 2001 – August 2007
Rev. Scott Brewer October 2008 – December 2010
Dr. J. E. Hail, Jr. June 2012 - October 2017
Rev John S Spencer - October 2019 - July 2020
Rev. Thomas Bridgmon - August 2022 -