The Greater Ward African Methodist Episcopal Church, located on 6822 Arabella Street, in Acres Homes, recently held a historical marker dedication; an event which marked Mayor Sylvester Turner’s first historical marker dedication.
Greater Ward A.M.E. Church, which was also known as Ward Chapel, A.M.E. Church until 1972 and Greater Ward Chapel A.M.E. Church from 1972-2007, is the oldest congregation of its kind in the Acres Homes community. Acres Homes is located ten miles north of downtown Houston.
Ward Chapel A.M.E. Church was organized in February 1913, and it was named in honor of Bishop Thomas M. D. Ward, the tenth bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal church.
The first place of worship for the church was held in the home of Rev. John T. Williams and his wife, Cassie, on what is now Tuskegee Street at Holly Street.
In 1919, the Wright Land Company donated two lots on Apollo street near Galilee Missionary Baptist Church, but the congregation opted to build on the west side of Arabella at Granville street. After a 1934 fire, a new structure was erected there in 1935. The sanctuary on the east side of Arabella was erected in 1955, following a major building campaign.
Rev. Ollie Lewis Dawson, one of the congregation’s longest-serving ministers, was a community activist and used the church as a meeting place to discuss social and civic matters. He was active with the NAACP, Acres Homes Church Union, A.M.E. Ministers Alliance and many other organizations. The church had numerous ministries, including several choirs, the Daughters of Ward, the Allen Christian League and Vacation Bible School.
Ferguson Way was named for Trustee Rendy Ann Johnson Ferguson. Trustee Wiley Adams successfully petitioned county officials to name nearby Tuskegee, Wilberforce, Paul Quinn and Dillard streets in honor of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The church continues to be a source of guidance and support for the Acres Homes community.
Photo credit: Eric Lakey