In 1901, a group of Seventh-day Adventists converts were organized into a company in Houston, TX, as a result of the work of two colporters, Mrs. Pack and Mrs. Dysart, who had won converts earlier in Houston in 1898. This company continued to grow and on February 21, 1921, after a series of evangelistic meetings held by Pastor M.G. Nunez, the first black Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church in Houston, TX was organized bearing the name, The Berean SDA Church, with a membership of 63. The Berean SDA Church, forerunner to the Bellfort SDA Church, was originally located on the corner of Dowling and Calhoun Streets. In 1941, with a growing membership, the Berean SDA Church moved to 2115 St. Emmanuel Street with the idea of building a larger church and church school complex.
Given the growth of the Berean membership, coupled with the population growth of the city of Houston, there was a need to plant a new SDA Church in growing Sunnyside area in the southern portion of the city. In 1959, under the leadership of Pastor J.H. Williams, this need was met as the Sunnyside SDA Church, with about 25 charter members, was birthed out to the Berean Church and began holding services at the Sunnyside Fire Station on the corner of Corinth and Strassen Sts.
In 1971, under the direction of Pastor James Wray, the Berean and Sunnyside SDA Churches merged. The purpose of this merger was to accommodate the numeric growth both churches were experiencing, and also to expand the opportunities for a promising educational ministry with larger facilities for a proposed child day care center and church school. New property in the amount of 5.5 acres was purchased at 5878 Bellfort Avenue in the South Park area of the city, and the combined membership officially merged on August 8, 1971, deciding upon the name Bellfort SDA Church with a membership of nearly 400.
As the 1970s marched Bellfort into the future, Pastor Way passed the pastoral torch to Pastor Joseph McCoy. Pastor McCoy’s watchword was to modernize. Pastor Harold Lee then followed Pastor McCoy, and Pastor Lee organized the church into a mighty army. He called them the “Men of Bellfort.” As Pastor Lee laid down the torch, it was picked up by Pastor Van Runnels, who is best remembered for the “Penny Drive Program,” ending the 1970′s and bringing on the challenges of the 1980′s.
In 1981, Pastor James W. Cox, Jr. arrived at the Bellfort Church. The battle cry was to evangelize as new souls for Christ were introduced to the Three Angels Messages, and the church moved forward to higher heights. In the 1980′s the dream of liquidating the church mortgage became a reality. Additionally, under Pastor Cox’ leadership, the Bellfort Church completed a major renovation program providing the membership with a greater sense of collective pride.
Pastor James Best picked up the pastoral mantel in 1991. Pastor Best also had a passion for evangelism as the early years of his ministry at Bellfort were ones spent in various evangelistic initiatives. During the later years of the 1990′s, Pastor Best and the members of Bellfort were able to see the realization of a newly constructed school building to house the church school and child care center.
On May 10, 2003, the Bellfort Church welcomed its seventh pastor, Pastor Carlton P. Byrd. Evangelism and seeker-sensitivity were the watchwords of Pastor Byrd. With the introduction of dynamic Christ-centered worship experiences, extraordinary Revelation Seminars, community block parties, concerts programs, Praise Sabbaths, and Tract Attacks, the membership of the Bellfort Church grew tremendously in the three years of Pastor Byrd’s ministry as over 500 individuals were baptized. Under the visionary leadership of Pastor Byrd, the church began to operate with the mindset of being a twenty-first century evangelistic center that was accompanied by technological advances in the creation of our website, powerpoint presentations that accent the worship experiences, and internet and cable television accessibility on the property.
September 2006, Dr. Joe I. Grider became the eighth pastor of the Bellfort Church and the next era of extraordinary soul winning experiences began.