Southwest Chinese Baptist Church (SWCBC) began as a Bible study group organized by a group of Chinese Baptist Church (CBC) members living in Houston's southwest area. SWCBC formally became a mission in January 1981, meeting at Westbury Baptist Church (WBC). The Mission was initially sponsored by both CBC and WBC and started out with about 30 to 40 worshipers. Rev. John Fung served as the first Pastor of the Mission. In the beginning, worship services were held in Cantonese Chinese only, until English translation was added in the spring of 1982. In the summer of 1981, Miss Julia Chu joined the Mission as an assistant to the Pastor. In late 1982, Rev. Fung resigned from the Mission and returned to Canada for further theological training. At that time, the regular attendance for Sunday Worship was about 70 to 80. In January 1983, CBC terminated its sponsorship of the Mission, and WBC became the sole mother church of the Mission. Shortly thereafter, the Mission started enrolling church members. About 30 members enrolled initially. Rev. Daniel Cheung became the Interim Pastor of the Mission from July 1983 to November 1984. During that period of time, Rev. Cheung took the responsibility to build up the Mission and search for a permanent pastor. In the summer of 1984, Miss Chu resigned from the Mission to pursue further theological education. After Mrs. Daniel Cheung passed away in mid-1984, Rev. Cheung decided to return to Hong Kong to serve the Lord, and he recommended Rev. Peter Leong of the Hong Kong Tai Po Baptist Church as a candidate for Pastor. After a week of interviews during October 1984, the Mission unanimously decided to invite Rev. Peter Leong to become the Pastor of the Mission.
With the arrival of Rev. Peter Leong in August 1985, the Mission entered into a new era of church growth. The number of people that accepted Christ and joined the Mission increased steadily. This growth was greatly facilitated by the expanding training fellowship ministry. With the forming of Evergreen Fellowship, Married Couple Fellowship, Young Adult Fellowship, and Youth Fellowship, the Mission became very effective in evangelism and outreach. As a result of the persistent effort of members, Sunday Worship attendance (not including Children Worship attendance) increased from 70 to 80 during 1985 to 120 to 130 in 1990. The percentages of Sunday School attendance were very high as well; the attendance, including children, normally exceeded the worship attendance. By 1990, the church organization and administration were more fully established. The Mission established the constitution and bylaws, became incorporated as a legal body in the State of Texas, and formed a number of committees responsible for various ministries, such as the Ministry Expansion Committee, Personnel Committee, and Building Committee to further expand the church's ministry.
Under the guidance of the Lord, the Mission became an independent church on April 22, 1990, with 131 charter members. This milestone marked the beginning of two challenges that topped the Church's priorities, namely expanding the English ministry and building our own facilities. In April 1992, the Church began holding two separate but concurrent worship services, the English Worship Service and the Cantonese Worship Service. The English Ministry Committee was set up to minister to the English speaking congregation and search for the Minister of English-Speaking Ministry. In September 1993, Rev. Chris Forbes became the Church's Minister of English-Speaking Ministry. Subsequently, the English ministry experienced significant growth, including the formation of the English Adult Fellowship and English Young Adult Fellowship, and the average attendance of the English Worship Service reached about 40 to 50.
The effort to have our own building was progressing as well. The Church held various Building Fundraising efforts, including Building Fund pledges, variety shows, church-wide garage sales, special donations from business sales, etc., resulting in a significant increase of the Church Building Fund and helping the Church focus on the building program. In January 1993, the Church purchased our present church site, an 11.7 acre tract of land in the city of Stafford. The Church Building Planning Department of the Baptist General Convention of Texas developed a three-phase master site plan for the Church, including preliminary drawings for Phase 1. Subsequently, the Building Committee selected an architectural firm, STD, and a construction contractor, Clear Lake Construction, to design and complete the Phase 1 building, which includes a 350-seat capacity sanctuary and over 10 rooms for multi-purpose usage. The Phase 1 building, at about 10,000 sq ft, was completed in August 1996, with the first worship service held in the new church building on September 1, 1996. The Church Building Dedication Ceremony was held on October 12, 1996. In 1998, the Church expanded the Phase 1 building by adding a 3,000 sq ft Fellowship Hall annexed to the north wing of the Phase 1 building and rearranging the north wing into 6 classrooms and a gathering/sitting area.
After the Church moved into the Phase 1 building in 1996, the Church began to focus on developing and growing the ministry. The Church held the very first town hall meeting in 1997 to identify and address the challenges facing the Church and to set the future direction and priority for the Church. In 1997, the Church started the Awana children ministry, as well as the Junior Varsity program for the youth, which was subsequently turned into a full-blown youth ministry. The number of fellowship groups also readily grew. Rev. Chris Forbes resigned from the Church in 1996 to become a missionary for Southern Baptist Convention, and the Lord called Brother Scott Lester to become the second Minister of English-Speaking Ministry for the Church in 1998. The ordination of Rev. Scott Lester was held on December 16, 2001, which was the first minister ordination in SWCBC history. As the Church ministry grew, the Church began seeing the need to elect deacons to serve in the ministry and to assist the ministerial staff. The Church ordained the first three deacons in December 1998, and the number of deacons reached six by 2005.
As the Church continued to grow in the early 2000s, the need for more ministerial staff and physical facilities began to mount, and the Church saw the importance of discipleship and family ministry to grow the Church. In 2003, the Church invited Rev. Simon Chan to join as the Associate Minister focusing on discipleship and family ministry. Also, the Church began in 2002 to study schemes of expanding the Church facilities. In the summer of 2003, the Church decided to proceed with the building of the Family Life Center (FLC). Subsequently, the Church hired LSA to design and then build the 15,000 sq ft FLC, which includes a middle-school-size basketball court, 13 classrooms, a commercial grade kitchen, and a stage. The FLC was completed in late 2004, with the building dedication service held on April 17, 2005.
With the strengthening of the ministerial staff and lay-ministry team, as well as the enlarged physical facilities, the Church continued to expand the ministry to areas including domestic and oversea mission trips, community services and outreach, marriage and family ministries, small group ministry, youth ministry, and youth worship. The expansion of the ministry has led to a significant growth of the Church, with Sunday worship attendance increasing from less than 200 in the late 1990s to about 350 in 2008. To move the Church into the next phase, the Church engaged the consultants from the Union Baptist Association (UBA) in 2006 to study the strength and future priorities of the Church. The UBA consultants identified five areas of important priorities. Subsequently, the Church held two town hall meetings in the first quarter of 2007 to gather input from the congregation. Based on the UBA consultants’ report and the input from the town hall meetings, the Board of Deacons issued a report in the summer of 2007 that identified eight high priority issues that the Church had to address and focus on. The Church subsequently formed three task forces consisting of ministerial staff, deacons, and members from the Church Council to address these eight high priority issues.
In November 2008, the Church began the Intentional Interim Ministry (IIM) program. Rev. Hollie Atkinson, an IIM-trained and retired minister, became the Interim Pastor in March 2009. Subsequently, the Transition Ministry Team was formed to carry out the interim ministry program, including interviewing almost everyone in the congregation and holding the Heritage Celebration Weekend from September 11-13, 2009. The Transition Ministry Team also studied and formulated the mission and future direction of the Church, studied and revised the Church organization, rewrote and updated the Church Constitution and Bylaws, and evaluated and defined the external bodies to which SWCBC would connect.
As the Church continued to be strengthened through the interim ministry, the number of people who accepted Christ and were baptized increased considerably. In the summer of 2011, the Church held a church-wide retreat with the theme, “Let Go, Let God, Let’s Build Together.” The successful retreat became a celebration and a milestone in the history of the Church. In late 2011, the Church was linked up with Rev. Edmond Cheung of Dallas, and in February 2012, the Church unanimously voted to call Rev. Edmond Cheung to be the Senior Pastor of the Church. Rev. Edmond Cheung accepted the call and became the Church’s Senior Pastor in June 2012, with Rev. Cheung’s installation service held on July 15, 2012.
With the arrival of Rev. Edmond Cheung and Rev. Steve Loo in February 2014, the Church entered into a new page of history. We have witnessed God energizing all of us at SWCBC, and He is leading us through Rev. Edmond Cheung to focus on the priorities and on the ministries that please Him. We firmly believe that our Lord is leading Southwest Chinese Baptist Church toward a wonderful future. We look forward to fulfilling our vision and accomplishing our goals that God is laying onto us in the coming years. With the blessing and guidance of our Lord, and with our obedience in following His will, we will soon be ready and will be well-positioned to spread the Gospel throughout the southwest area of Houston, all of Houston, and even to the ends of the earth.