The First Filipino American United Methodist Church of Houston humbly began over 30 years ago, when just a handful of families held their first service at the home of Tony and Betty Gonzales on November 5, 1980. Others among them were the Bermudezes, Guerreros, and the Sarmientos. Reverend George Rubio, a pastor of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, led the service. The worship service led to many more Sunday services until the group decided to have Pastor Rubio as their interim minister. The growing fellowship did not have any links with any denomination in the area, but decided to identify themselves as the United Church of Greater Houston.
As membership continued to grow, the majority of the members adopted the United Methodist tradition. The process of becoming a United Methodist church was initialized and became a reality on December 27, 1981. Dr. Leo Tipay, Jr. was appointed supply pastor in 1982. He commuted from Dallas to Houston every weekend. More families joined the group and it was arranged for their worship service to use the facility of St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church in the Houston North District. Eventually, the First Filipino American United Methodist Church was chartered on August 31, 1984.
The members earnestly wanted to have a full-time minister to further strengthen the growth of the church. Dr. Tipay was asked to become a full-time pastor, but with his unavailability, Reggie Dancel, Jr., at this time the charge lay leader in 1985, contacted Ding Cajiuat, then a pastor in Dallas, to consider the pastorate in Houston. Pastor Cajiuat graciously turned down the offer, having already committed himself to ministry in Dallas.
Reggie Dancel decided to withdraw from his occupation of approximately 15 years, as a child protective specialist in Harris County, to attend seminary at Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Ultimately, Reggie received his Master of Divinity degree as a full-time student, and was appointed the awaited full-time pastor of our church.
On May 19, 1989, the congregation rented the Quillian Memorial Center as a temporary place of worship. At this new site, attendance quadrupled from about 50 to more than 200 attendees on Sunday. The congregation eventually purchased just under 3 acres of land in 1990 with the help of the Houston Board of Missions. In the same year, the church created a Building Committee which initiated an intensive fundraising campaign. The goal was to raise $500,000 for a multipurpose facility to be used as a sanctuary on Sundays and a community center for the remainder of the week. Members sacrificed and pledged their time, money and effort. On March 28, 1992, ground was broken, and construction began on June 12, 1992. The new multipurpose facility was completed on December 9, 1992, and was dedicated on February 27, 1993 with Bishop Woodrow Hearn officiating.
The FFAUMC facility has become a gathering place for various groups in Houston. Here, many events, such as girl scouts activities, wedding anniversaries, receptions, induction balls, health fairs, and parties, have been held by our own and outside groups alike. The YWCA of Houston uses the facility daily from Monday through Friday, providing different activities for seniors. FFAUMC is now a growing presence in the community. In 2012, we have hopes to raise a new sanctuary for our local congregation.
Please join us for the next 30 years as FFAUMC continues to connect people with God and each other.