South Main's History

South Main Baptist Church has been woven into the fabric of Houston for more than 120 years. Located at the midpoint between downtown and the Texas Medical Center, South Main has a history that intertwines closely with the growth and development of the city. The church’s congregation has pioneered missions and ministries both locally and abroad throughout its history and is known for calling both men and women into ministry roles and for living out the Bible’s call for justice. South Main put into practice the prophet Jeremiah’s call to “seek the welfare of the city.”


South Main was planted on November 15, 1903, by 32 charter members after a series of revival services. At the time, the church was at the southern edge of the city. As the city has grown and we have remained, we find ourselves now in the geographic bullseye of Houston.

One of the church’s first ministries to the city was to purchase and establish an 18-bed Baptist Sanatorium in downtown Houston. This facility became Houston's Memorial Hospital, eventually evolving into today’s Memorial Hermann Healthcare System. Today, the early entrepreneurial medical instinct remains strong. South Main maintains a set of apartments for persons who come to Houston for medical care and also operates medical missions in Peru and Kenya.

Architectural drawing of SMBC sanctuary front elevation


The South Main Baptist Church Sanctuary that stands today was built between 1925 and 1930 and remains one of the most beautiful spaces in Houston. It is widely recognized as the premier venue in the city for choral music. Through the years, South Main’s music ministry has both inspired worshippers and provided music education to generations of Houstonians. (We sing out of books in parts!)

The Sanctuary reflects the aesthetic sentiments of its Catholic architects—an unusual choice for a Baptist church in the 1920’s. Following suit, the congregation has been a leader in ecumenical partnerships through the years.

You can read more about the building of our Sanctuary Organ here.


From 1935 to 1939, the church served as the campus of the University of Houston, until the University’s current campus on Cullen Boulevard was completed. Today, the church partners with MacGregor Elementary School to encourage teachers, purchase needed supplies and materials, and mentor students. Throughout our history we have drawn intellectually curious disciples into small groups where we are unafraid to wrestle honestly with the difficulties of life guided by the truth of the Gospel and the trustworthiness of the Scripture.

Wide angle shot of the SMBC congregation in the sanctuary in 2023

Our commitment to sharing the Gospel also led to planting seven mission congregations across the Houston metropolitan area in Almeda, Algoa, Addicks, Willow Meadows, Sugar Creek, and Stafford. On our campus, we have “welcomed the stranger” for more than 50 years through an ESL teaching ministry called SMILE (South Main International Learning Experience), and for the past decade through a ministry to our unhoused neighbors called Manna.

As we move into the future, South Main's legacy of service and innovation continue. Our Family and Adult Ministries form the cornerstone of ongoing plans to make South Main an ideal place to grow, learn, and cultivate the spiritual gifts of all those who come to the church. Our congregation is teeming with a sense of vitality for the things God has set out just ahead for us. We hope that you will consider being a part of all that is happening at 4100 Main Street.