The upcoming issue of Houston History, “Visions of Faith,” explores aspects of the diverse city’s religious heritage and concludes the three-part series on Houston’s wards.
Opening with the “Letter from the Editor” by Joe Pratt on the emotional sway of gospel music, “Visions of Faith” feature articles include:
- “From the Oasis of Love to Your Best Life Now: A Brief History of Lakewood Church, by Phillip Luke Sinitiere examines the rise of John Osteen’s Lakewood Church from its humble beginnings in a feed store to its current status as a nationally and internationally known megachurch led John’s son, Joel Osteen, “the smiling preacher.”
- “J. W. E. Airey, the Cowboy Priest” by Anne Sloan tells the story of the young rector of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Houston Heights from 1934 to 1944, whose boots and sombrero were as much a part of his dress as his vestments and collar. A former ventriloquist and magician who learned to rope, shoot, and ride with best of them, he kept an Indian museum on the church grounds and pastured his horse on nearby vacant lots.
- In “Unexpected Adaptability: The Cenacle Sisters Navigate Changing Times,” Jere Pfister writes a personal account of her retreat with the Cenacle Sisters and explains the ways in which these nuns have adapted with the changing times. The Religious of the Cenacle have prepared men and women of many faiths for their own futures with clear-eyed fortitude and a belief that the power of love prevails.
- “Shepherds of the Children of Israel” by Rabbi Jimmy Kessler details the contributions of Galveston Rabbi Henry Cohen and Houston Rabbis Robert Kahn and Hyman Schachtel. The term Rabbi in the original Hebrew means a teacher, but since as Texas began as a frontier, Rabbis were called upon to meet an incredibly diverse set of needs. These men carried on that tradition.
- In “The Pink Iftar Movement,” Kafah Bachari Manna describes her life growing up Iranian American and the challenges of her ethnic heritage. Post-9/11, Americans frequently questioned her about her Muslim faith rather than her background. As a result, she co-founded the Pink Iftar Movement, an organization, which holds interfaith dinners for women of multiple backgrounds to bridge the gap between faiths.
- “Iglesia De La Luz Del Mundo” by Timothy Wyatt tells the story behind the beautiful gold-domed cathedral that sits on Highway 59 North-Eastex Freeway. Eusebio Joaquín González, known as the Prophet Aaron, established the rapidly growing denomination in Monterey, Mexico, in1926. La Luz del Mundo spreads Oneness Pentecostalism, which rejects the eternal divinity of Jesus, instead believing that it was his baptism that made him the Christ and therefore divine.
- “We’ve Come This Far by Faith: Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church” by Tomiko Meeks tells how Reverend William Lawson and thirteen people submitted to God’s divine will and plan and established a church in Houston’s Third Ward in March 1962. The article chronicles Rev. Lawson’s work at TSU and the birth of a neighborhood church that led to the formation of Wheeler Avenue Baptist.
The series “When there were Wards” concludes with the following articles:
- “In the Nickel, Houston’s Fifth Ward” by Patricia Pando explores the ward’s vibrant history. By 1866, Houston’s booming population caused city government to designate the area across Buffalo and White Oak Bayous as the Fifth Ward. Often more known for problems, the community is home to such notables as Barbara Jordan, George Foreman, Mickey Leland, host of musicians, and others.
- In “Sixth Ward, Carving Out a Place of its Own,” Janet K. Wagner explains that the Sixth Ward spent its first forty years as the north part of the Fourth Ward until 1874. The Sixth Ward Historic District, located between Memorial Drive and Washington Avenue, designated by the Department of the Interior in 1978, became the first National Register District in Harris County.
Other articles of interest include: “The Spirit of Giving: Jane Blaffer Owen and the University of Houston” by Aimee L’Heureux, “Book Notes and News” by Barbara Eaves, and reviews of Arcadia’s two new books, Foley’s and Houston’s Sporting Life 1900-1950, by Joe Pratt.