Our Parish History
We are a part of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese under Metropolitan PHILIP. Our Bishop is BASIL of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid America, and we are one of eight Antiochian parishes in the East Texas Deanery.
We began in 1993 as an outreach to the growing West side of Houston, Texas and the greater Katy area. There were originally five families (Abdallah, Bassila, Brewer, Lukenbach & Samarni) who had come from our mother parish of St. George and wanted to establish an Orthodox presence on the West side. Fr. Joseph Shahda, pastor of St. George, agreed that there was a real need, so he assigned his assisting deacon (later Bishop THOMAS) to serve this small West Houston group with Typica and Communion. The deacon would finish Liturgy at St. George and then drive across town to our small rented community center to do services for the six or so families. He would literally be vesting as he walked in the front door. Without all the loving spiritual prayer and support of the St. George parish and her clergy, we would not have come into fruition as an Orthodox parish.
In 1994, our group had grown to about eleven families. We had inherited an iconostasis from a past parish life conference in El Paso. We then set that up for use in our worship space: an old dance studio. Our first full Holy Week and Pascha services were served by a retired priest from the Atlanta area. After those services we knew that, with God’s help, we were going to be an Orthodox presence in the greater Houston area.
By the end of November 1994, our first priest, Fr. Matthew MacKay, was assigned to the mission station; we had seventeen families. After Fr. Matthew and his family arrived, we were made an official mission and were given our name: St. Joseph the Betrothed – a great honor! We are one of only a few Orthodox churches with this name. We are blessed when we look at our iconostasis; we see the earthly holy family: Jesus (Son), Mary the Theotokos (mother), John the Baptist (cousin), and St. Joseph the Betrothed (protector).
After three and a half years in a rented office space, we had grown to thirty families; our lease was up and we were getting crowded. It was time to build our first building. With St. Joseph's intervention, we were able to purchase 5 ¾ acres of land and build a metal multi-purpose building. St. Joseph, as a carpenter, was a perfect saint to have interceding for us as we built. For over four years we worshiped, taught, catechized, did Baptisms/Chrismations, Weddings, Funerals, and held social events in our all-purpose building. By then, we had grown to fifty families, and it was time to build a proper Temple.
After a year’s worth of fund raising and blueprints, and another year of building, we had a traditional domed Byzantine-style cruciform church. One year after we built our church, we were blessed to have it consecrated by Bp. BASIL in 2004.
Today we are a very grateful Pan-Orthodox congregation of about 100 families: half-cradle and half-convert members. It is a wonderful mix and flavor of nationalities, ethnicities, and cultures – our pot-luck dinners reflect this the most: Arab, Russian, Greek, Romanian, Georgian & Tex Mex. Come taste and see!