Some of us don’t attend local churches. Still, they continue to be a vital part of our neighborhood’s history and sense of community.
I first gathered information about the churches for exhibits at the Violet Crown Festival here in Austin. More recently, Rob and I discovered that many of the people we interviewed for our oral history project have longtime connections with churches here. They have been among the people most willing to share their stories with us, and we include a few of them below. The churches’ mosaic tiles are part of the Wall of Welcome at 7100 Woodrow Avenue in Austin. Thanks to wall artist Jean Graham for permission to reproduce images of the tiles. (Church names are links to their websites, and dates in parentheses following the name indicate when the church was established in our neighborhood.)
AUSTIN FIRST CUMBERLAND PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH (1956)
First established in Austin in 1846
6800 Woodrow Avenue, Brentwood
AUSTIN GRACE CHURCH OF THE NAZARENE (1950s)
First established in Central Austin in 1933 and since March 2014 continues as Central City Austin.
1006 W. Koenig Lane, Brentwood
AUSTIN KOREAN PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH (1973)
2000 Justin Lane, Crestview
CRESTVIEW BAPTIST CHURCH (1953)
7600 Woodrow Avenue, Crestview
Al Kirby remembers that Keith Bailey built the original church, the small white building facing Morrow, now called the Bailey Building. Al joined Crestview Baptist after being a member of Northwest Baptist and Walnut Creek Baptist for many years. We interviewed Al in March 2009.
Paragon Primary School offers classes in classrooms and gymnasium at the church.
CRESTVIEW UNITED METHODIST CHURCH (1953)
1300 Morrow Street, Crestview
Judy and John Carlson, Louise Cooke, and Beverly Lester are among those we’ve interviewed whose families are charter members of this church. We interviewed Judy and John in September 2009, Louise in January 2009, and Beverly in February 2008.
John held leadership roles there, including coordinating many church work days. He also used his formidable carpentry skills to create cabinets, bookcases, glass showcases, and many other handcrafted pieces for the church. “You can’t touch anything at the church without John’s being connected to it in some way,” his wife Judy said. Judy and John also helped with other volunteer projects at the church, including large, community-wide garage sales. One sale raised over $5,000 for the Austin Children’s Hospital. Other sales have benefited the Capital Area Food Bank and Salvation Army.
EPISCOPAL CHURCH OF THE RESURRECTION (1953)
2200 Justin Lane, Crestview
FAITH LUTHERAN CHURCH (1950)
6600 Woodrow Avenue, Brentwood
Longtime church members Wanda and Emory Muehlbrad remember when their church had no air conditioning in the summer, and streets weren’t paved. “Cars would be crunchin’ on that gravel while you were in church,” Emory said, “and you had a decision to make. Close the windows, keep the noise out, and burn up, or open the windows, stay cooler, and have the crunchin’ out there!”
In addition to raising four of their own children, Wanda and Emory have fostered more than 400 others, often more than one at a time. Many have special needs. The family seldom missed a Sunday at church, and with children and foster children they often filled an entire pew. Emory taught two Bible classes for 13 years and did lay preaching. He is proud of his church and of his two brothers and father who were ministers. Wanda has been involved for many years in the Child Development Center, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2011. We interviewed Wanda and Emory in February 2008.
Kay Swenson Ramsey grew up attending Faith Lutheran with her parents Erna and Gladstone Swenson. The family lived for many years on Ruth Avenue across from the church. Gladstone, a popular local mailman, served on the church council and as Sunday School superintendent.
Kay remembers Woodrow was called “Church Row” and people walked to church on Sunday. She went all through school with friends who also attended her church. Her photo, right, was taken on the family’s front porch on Easter. We interviewed her in January 2008.
The church celebrated its 60th anniversary in September 2010. You can read more about the event here.
FIRST UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST OF AUSTIN (1951)
4700 Grover Avenue, Brentwood
HOPE CHAPEL (1977)
Former home of Brentwood Church of Christ
6701 Arroyo Seco, Brentwood
JOURNEY IMPERFECT FAITH COMMUNITY (2015)
Former home of Liveoak Bible Church (2008-2014) and Austin Bible Church for more than 30 years. Crestview Neighborhood Association monthly meetings have been held here since 2015.
7500 Woodrow Avenue, Crestview
KOENIG LANE CHRISTIAN CHURCH (1955)
Established in Austin in 1916
908 Old Koenig Lane, Brentwood
NORTHWEST BAPTIST CHURCH (1953)
6301 Woodrow Avenue, Brentwood
Al Kirby helped build the church and was a charter member. We interviewed Al in March 2009.
REDEEMER LUTHERAN CHURCH (1954)
1500 W. Anderson Lane, Wooten (north of Crestview)
Longtime Crestview neighbor Bill Williamson remembers helping build this Wooten neighborhood church. He also taught Sunday School there for many years. Among his students were his three children and Crestview Minimax IGA’s Ronnie Prellop and his brother and two sisters. We interviewed Bill in October 2007.
ST. LOUIS KING OF FRANCE CATHOLIC CHURCH (1952)
7601 Burnet Road, Crestview
In August 1954, Mickey and Jim Bauer were married in the original stone building near today’s St. Joseph Boulevard (at the time there were no Morrow and St. Joseph streets). They were only the second couple to be married at the brand-new church. Within weeks they moved to Hawaii, where Jim was stationed in the Navy. For more than 50 years, they’ve lived a few miles from the Burnet Lane home where her family first moved in 1936. We interviewed Mickey and Jim in May 2010.
For many years, Crestview Neighborhood Association meetings were held in the church’s Wozniak Hall.