95 Year Old Religious Leader Remembered in Tyler

For nearly three quarters of a century, Bishop Walter Houston, Sr. ministered to generations of East Texans. He's been honored by Bank of America for his role in Black History in Texas, and by President Bill Clinton for his longtime leadership in the pulpit. Houston died Tuesday afternoon at the age of 95.

Houston Temple Church of God in Christ has only had one pastor in it's history. Walter Houston Senior founded the church last century, back before World War II. "He started this church from nothing," said his son, Bishop David Houston. "He didn't have any members. Didn't have a building. All he had was a message from God."

He shared that message with long time friends, L.T. and Adelle Johnson. L.T. donated the land on which the church was built in the early 1930's so Houston could teach the lessons of the Bible. "He didn't have a formal education," says Mrs. Johnson. "But he was well informed. And, he knew the word of God."

Houston raised ten children. Three of them followed him into the ministry. His oldest daughter, Lola says his passing is hard, but not sad. "We've had such a good time with him. If he hadn't been a good father and raised us right... I haven't had a tear yet. I may have one. But, I'm just thinking of the good things that he's done. He's helped so many people, so many boys and girls."

One of the last times Houston spoke to his congregation was last March. He was honored for serving in the church longer than any other person in Texas. He spoke on Channel 7 News about his the award and his life in the church. "My secret is God's grace. That's the only thing I know, cause His grace is sufficient and His grace allowed me to live this long. Not my goodness nor all the good thing I've done. Cause that don't amount to nothing with God."

Services for Bishop Houston will be held Thursday morning at 11 at Harvey Convention Center in Tyler.

Stephen Parr, reporting.