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 »


Cecelia Ottenweller

ST. GEORGE ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN CHURCH. An Antiochian Orthodox Church, St. George Orthodox Church in Houston, Texas, was founded in 1928 by a small group of Middle Eastern immigrants living in the city. They were part of the larger group of Middle Eastern immigrants—primarily Christian—that began arriving in Texas after 1880.

The original group did not have an official building, so the Ladies Altar Society generated the funds to purchase one by cooking and selling Middle Eastern and Asian foods. Eight years later, the Orthodox congregation purchased a former Methodist church building at 1703 Chestnut Street, on the corner of Chestnut and Harrington streets in the Near Northside of Houston. The new church was dedicated on May 3, 1936. 

The community grew quickly and underwent an expansion program and ultimately purchased property in September 1954 for their current location at 5311 Mercer Street at Bissonnet Street in the West University area. As the congregation continued to grow and more immigrants came to Houston, St. George Orthodox started mission churches in the outer areas of Houston in order to meet the needs of the city’s burgeoning Orthodox population. The first, St. Anthony the Great Orthodox Christian Church, was established in 1982 in Spring, Texas. St. Joseph Orthodox Church, in West Houston on Hammerly Boulevard, followed in 1993. A third church, Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste Orthodox, was established on Eldridge Road in Sugar Land, Texas, in 2001. 

The congregation was—and remains today—open to all those who practice Orthodox Christianity, including Greeks, Sudanese, Ethiopians, Russians, Bosnians, Romanians, Bulgarians, Serbians, and others. A large group of refugees from the then-Jordanian city of Ramallah joined the congregation following the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. In the mid-1980s the congregation was 70 percent Arab-American. 

Except for a candlelight vigil held in 1982 during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, St. George is apolitical in its activities and stays focused on humanitarian causes. The church established the Houston Mediterranean Festival in 1982. Historically, it has provided support services to Middle Eastern refugees, has offered Saturday Arab language classes, and served as home to a Ramallah club. Original founders of St. George Orthodox include Jalal Antone, founder of Antone’s Import Company and the famous Antone’s Po’Boy sandwich.


“Parish History,” St. George Orthodox Christian Church, Houston, Texas (http://www.stgeorgehouston.com/history.html), accessed November 5, 2016. The Syrian and Lebanese Texans (San Antonio: University of Texas Institute of Texan Cultures, 1974). 

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, Cecelia Ottenweller, "ST. GEORGE ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN CHURCH," accessed July 14, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/ios03.

Uploaded on December 8, 2016. 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...