Our Church History
On April 8, 1952, the late Rev. J. N. Harris organized the Joshua Baptist Church. At that time, there were no churches in the immediate area. He and his wife, Ella Lee Harris, began with just a few members who lived near the church.
Rev. Harris served as pastor of Joshua Baptist Church for 18 years.
Under his ministry, many were saved and led to maturity in Christ.
Rev. Harris resigned as pastor in 1970 due to ill health and he and his wife moved to Los Angeles, California.
In April 1970, Rev. H. T. Lara was called as pastor but he served for almost one year before resigning.
In April 1971, Rev. Billy Young became a pastor and served until 1975.
In 1975 Rev. Vaughn was called as pastor and served until the spring of 1978.
In May of 1978, Sister Ethel Jackson called Rev. J. N. Harris in California and told him that the church was in need of a pastor. He asked her to contact Clifton Phillips who had recently accepted his calling to the gospel ministry. Sister Jackson was the last charter member of Joshua and remained faithful until she passed away in May 1997.
In August of 1978, Rev. Clifton Philips was ordained at St. Paul Baptist Church and became pastor of Joshua Baptist Church.
Under Clifton Phillips’s leadership, we were blessed to have a Ministerial Staff, Deacon’s Board, Trustees, Usher’s Board, Brotherhood and four choirs. We also had a Youth Department, Courtesy committee, Drill Team and a Building and Planning Committee. We also had an Outreach Ministry which included door-to-door evangelism and volunteers for the homeless shelter, San Antonio Metropolitan Ministry (SAMM).
Joshua also birthed two singing groups: the LABA Singers and Anointed Praise.
For 10 years, we also hosted a Spanish speaking service under Bro. Garza.
Pastor Phillips had a true vision of future growth for the Joshua Family. This was best exemplified by the sacrificial time and effort that was spent in leading the congregation to develop plans and purchase land to build a facility that will be located on 8 acres of land on Old Highway 90.
He often talked about having a more diverse congregation, like the one which we now see taking place today. Before his passing away on December 18, 2003, Pastor Phillips renamed our ministry name from Joshua Baptist Church to Joshua House of Worship Ministries. To this day the vision lives on in our hearts.
In September 2004, Joshua House of Worship Ministries still did not have a pastor and Rev. Willie Harper was called to serve as our interim pastor until God’s will was made clear.
Pastor Harper was extremely instrumental in not only keeping most of the congregation together but also in re-established our membership, paying off our land and other debts. Most importantly, he established the process for the calling of our new pastor to follow after Pastor Phillips.
In June 2005, Joshua House of Worship called a son in the ministry, Rev. Melford S. Keyes who at the time was busy serving at the Resurrection Baptist Church. With the call extended; the blessing of his pastor and apparent favor of God, he returned back to Joshua with his family as the 6th Pastor of the Joshua House of Worship Ministries.
Being a man of prayer, Pastor Mel spent much time discerning God’s voice to help him to discern and articulate a clear vision, tailor made for the Joshua House of Worship.
This is the same vision that members of the JHOW family now boldly recite each Sunday as an act of worship:
Living & Loving; Learning; Giving; Glowing and Going throughout San Antonio to faithfully share our testimony about God’s goodness to us and His love for all humanity as we live our lives passionately and purposefully in order to make strong, healthy, multi-generational and multicultural disciples for God; giving Him the maximum glory in all things.
More each week we have seen God begin to transform the place we affectionately refer to as JHOW into “The Place Where the Love of God Abounds Unconditionally and Worship Comes To Life.”
Since his arrival, Pastor Mel has not picked his head up; teaching, preaching, training, leading and preparing the people of God to pursue the vision that God has placed before us.
To further equip himself for the task with the necessary tools of disciple making and possessing the vision, Pastor Mel has since completed an associate degree in multicultural leadership and a bachelor degree in theology at the Baptist University of The Americas; as well as a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry, from the Dallas Baptist University.
His leadership has expanded our vision through social media & various communication technologies; watered the seeds for new levels of a growing multi-cultural and a multi-generational congregation; created a monthly forum for leadership development and minister’s training; initiated church restructuring; launched a tailor-made worship service, specifically for our youth; brought new DYNAMIC church studies and Christian learning experiences to the congregation along with tapping into various community partnerships and officially ordaining our very first women as ordained ministers of the gospel to include the establishment of our deaconesses ministry.
After seeing more than 60 new souls baptized over the past several years, Pastor Mel still believes that our BEST is in front of us NOT behind us.
In his own words, “We haven’t EVEN scratched the surface yet!”
With our eyes on the prize and God in control, we are uniquely positioned to truly see the vision fulfilled at the Joshua House of Worship that God first entrusted AT THE VERY BEGINNING OF OUR EXISTENCE to the oversight of Pastor J. N. Harris.
JHOW family, after 65 years we pause to give God ALL OF THE GLORY and to AFFIRM that the BEST is yet to COME.