Pastor Steven Staten said there was not an African American church in this suburb of Houston until he planted The Fellowship at Tomball last fall. Once a predominantly Anglo area, Tomball—a city of about 12,000 residents—is seeing more African Americans and Hispanics moving in.
Staten, a third-generation minister, was pastoring Jenkins Chapel Baptist Church in Amarillo when God began to work on his heart about the segregated nature of his community. During that time, he became friends with an Anglo pastor.
“He and I started doing things in the community in order to bring harmony to the whole area,” Staten said. “God kept impressing on me to do more, so he and I got together and we planted a church there in Amarillo with a multicultural intention.”
The church plant grew, Staten said, and after a few years, “the Lord sent me back home to Houston.”
He was interviewed for another pastorate where he believed God was sending him, but it didn’t work out. “So I said, ‘OK, God. I’m back. What’s next?’” Staten was living in Cypress and was occupied with chaplaincy work at a hospice care organization, but he soon moved to Tomball and felt the Lord speaking to him about planting a church.
“This area was ripe for a church that was African American in its focus because there were none,” he said. “So we planted The Fellowship at Tomball last September, and the Lord has been blessing us.”
The church launched with about 10 people, beginning with friends and family they had started reaching out to, Staten said. They now have 40 to 50 each Sunday.
“We started having vision-casting meetings and sharing with them what the Lord was laying on our hearts to do,” Staten said. As a result, many of them began to connect and wanted to be a part of what God was doing.
A church for all people
Staten describes Tomball as a small community that is bursting at the seams. The jobs in Tomball, he said, are mostly service-oriented, and those who work for major industries commute to nearby Cypress or Houston.
“It’s very family-oriented, a wonderful place to live,” he said. “God has really been doing some major things here.”
Even though his church is predominantly African American, Staten said he believes God has strategically located The Fellowship at Tomball to reach the world.
“We don’t want to just reach the African American population that’s coming in. We want to be a church that’s able to reach all people, minister to all of their needs, and share the gospel with them,” Staten said. “If we’re all going to heaven, it’s not going to be a segregated one, so we should worship together.”
Staten said the church, which is meeting in a strip mall on the outskirts of town, is praying for a meeting space closer to the heart of the city so it can be more visible in the community. Connecting with more people could open the door for the church to meet one of the chief needs people have—building relationships.
“I think more than anything else, [we want to have] a genuine fellowship where people can learn and grow in the things of God because there’s so much that is out there that is contradictory to what the Word of God is stating,” Staten said. “[People] need to be able to find a place where they can fellowship and have authentic relationships with fellow Christians and an authentic relationship with Christ.”