While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST. The United Church of Christ is a merger of the Congregational Christian churches and the Evangelical and Reformed Church. During the Reconstruction period a few Congregational churches were established in Texas by visiting ministers and by the American Missionary Association. Missionary stations of the denomination were active in African-American educational efforts following the Civil War, and several of the early congregations were made up largely of freedmen. In 1866 a Congregational church was established in Corpus Christi by Aaron Rowe, who in 1867 established the Corpus Christi Freedman's Church. Rowe left Corpus Christi in 1868 and did not return until 1871, when he reestablished his congregation. Jeremiah Porter established a church in Brownsville in 1868 and another for freedmen in 1880. In 1871 the three Congregational churches in Texas had a total membership of fifty. A congregation was organized in Goliad in 1872. In 1873 churches functioned at Corpus Christi, Goliad, and Paris and were affiliated with the Southwestern Conference of Congregational Churches; total membership was 234, and the Missionary Association was operating sixteen stations in the state. In 1874 new churches were organized at Helena and Sherman, a freedman's church was opened in Paris, and the Congregational Association of Texas was organized. By 1886 the denomination had eleven churches and 288 members in the state. In 1906 it had grown to a total of 1,856 members and for a few years operated the Congregational Home Missionary Society of Texas in Houston and the Lone Star Association of Congregational Churches in Dallas. By 1936 a schismatic section of Congregationalists had joined the Presbyterian denomination and some Congregationalists had joined the Disciples of Christ; in that year there were twenty Congregationalist churches in Texas with 1,989 members. In Texas the South Central Conference United Church of Christ was formed in May 1963. In 1995 the South Central Conference had 19,000 members in ninety-one churches in Texas and Louisiana. The churches included thirteen African-American, two Samoan, and one Hispanic congregation. Within the conference the United Church of Christ had Huston-Tillotson College in Austin, Texas, and Dillard University in New Orleans. Two health and human service institutions, Eden Homes in New Braunfels, Texas, and Back Bay Mission in Biloxi, Mississippi, were also in the conference. The office for the United Church of Christ was in Austin.

Dictionary of American History (New York: Scribner, 1940). John William Theodore Youngs, The Congregationalists (New York: Greenwood Press, 1990). Barbara Brown Zikmund, ed., Hidden Histories in the United Church of Christ (New York: United Church Press, 1984).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, "UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST," accessed May 27, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/igu01.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...