About Mission Center of Houston
Providing for the physical and spiritual needs of people living in Houston’s inner city.
Mission Centers of Houston provides for the physical and spiritual needs of people living in Houston’s inner city. Through ongoing relationships, age-graded programs and mission partnerships we change lives with the love, mercy, and grace of Jesus Christ.
Our mission work focuses on the eradication of the effects of multigenerational poverty and homelessness in the Magnolia Park and Near Northside communities. We empower children and adults through Christ-centered programs aimed at providing food security, homeless assistance, age-graded educational and recreational programs, spiritual development, coordination of long-term disaster recovery services, and community development initiatives.
Since its inception in 1962, Mission Centers of Houston has been ingrained in the communities it serves. Many of the programs have come to fruition solely based on listening to the needs of the community. That listening and relationship building continues today through our dedicated area missionaries. Having our mission centers and live-in missionary staff resident in the communities we serve provides a powerful and effective service model by which we can provide needed resources while building deep relationships to encourage and empower the afflicted.
We also serve as a hub for volunteer groups and the training of college-aged and young adults via resident internships. Mission Centers also serves as a connection for churches, organizations, and individuals seeking mission opportunities in Houston. This happens through volunteer opportunities for groups and individuals at our existing mission centers and through our missionary training program.
Mission Centers of Houston is a subsidiary corporation of Union Baptist Association. However, we are a stand-alone non-profit, 501 (c) (3) organization with our own governing Board of Directors. We are supported by individuals, churches, grants, corporations, and our two annual fundraising events – Barbecue, Boots & Boogie and the MCH Classic Golf Tournament. All gifts to Mission Centers are tax-deductible according to IRS guidelines.
How it all started
The ministry that would later be known as Mission Centers of Houston began in the 1940s when Primera Iglesia Bautista Houston established an outreach ministry for impoverished families in the Near Northside. The ministry moved into a house on Fletcher Street to become a stand-alone site, which became known as the Mexican Goodwill Center. It served as a daycare for the community and offered food assistance to needy families, especially single mothers. In 1962 the property was deeded over to the Union Baptist Association who took on the ministry, inviting churches across Houston to join in supporting the work through volunteers and donations.
It was during this initial year that Mildred McWhorter (affectionately known by the community as ‘Miss Mac’) was appointed director of the center by the Southern Baptist Convention. For the next three decades, her name would be synonymous with Baptist ministry and service in inner-city Houston. The Fletcher Center became well known for the provision of food and clothing, after-school programs for children and teenagers, senior adult programs, ESL and GED classes, Bible study classes and worship services.
Over the next 20 years the mission work in the Near Northside expanded rapidly with the addition of several buildings to become the Fletcher Center and the establishment of a second location on Gano Street, less than a mile away, which became known as the Gano Center. This location also had a building donated that would serve as a residence for visiting missionaries and youth groups who came to volunteer. A new mission work was also established in Houston’s East End – in the Magnolia Park Community on Avenue F. It became known as the Joy Center because Miss Mac said every time she went there the children all had a look of Joy on their faces when they greeted her. In 1980 the Fletcher, Gano and Joy Centers were combined under one name – Baptist Mission Centers.
After Miss Mac’s retirement the legacy she built remained intact with an emphasis on community development efforts to help fight generational poverty. An increased effort was placed on providing a platform for training college-aged missionaries who would commit to volunteer for a summer, semester or entire year. In 2007 the Gano missionary building was demolished and the Mildred McWhorter Missionary Building was built in its place to house administrative offices and a new missionary residential space. In 2008 the Board of Directors voted to change the name of the organization to Mission Centers of Houston, which opened the door for broader ministry and community partnerships.
Today Mission Centers of Houston continues to maintain close contact with the residents in the Near Northside and Magnolia Park communities through an integration-based approach, much like the model used in international mission work. Our staff members who lead the ministry work at each center are residents of their communities they serve. At each location a husband and wife team oversee the mission work, joined by family members who volunteer at the centers. This enables us to understand the needs of the community better while modeling a Christ-centered marriage and family for the community. We also recruit volunteers and additional staff from within the community to increase our understanding and enhance the trust of our neighbors.
Mission Centers of Houston has been transforming the lives of people in Houston’s inner city for nearly 60 years through the love, mercy and grace of Jesus Christ, and will continue to do so, God willing, until He returns.