East Downtown Houston (EADO) is changing as an arts district and residential area take root, bringing new life and color to the dreary former warehouse district.
God is doing something new in East Downtown Houston too. We recently sat down with pastor Jacob Breeze to learn more about Holy Family.
Holy Family is such an unusual church. Was this a dream of yours for a long time?
This is something I felt led into, propelled into, wooed into by God. We have said from the beginning that Holy Family was a dream that began in the heart of the triune God. We were responsive enough to get in on that dream. It is humbling to be a part of something that God is doing.
What was the church planting process like for you?
I was still at Duke Divinity in Seminary, finishing up, when they (conference leadership) said, ‘What we would like you to do is come back.’ They gave me 12 months to come up with three things- a Parish, a plan, and who my partners would be.
Eventually, we identified the east side of downtown as our potential parish. We felt it was underserved by the UMC. After that, we began going to barber shops and cafes to meet people. We were doing one to one relational evangelism. It was during this time that I got to know Shayne Hawthorne. He was my barber. Over time, I built a friendship with him. Then, one day I took him to coffee after my haircut and said, “Every UMC pastor has to partner with a lay leader, and I am getting hints from the Holy Spirit that needs to be you.” Shayne agreed to help.
So, you had a parish and plan. How did Chapelwood become your partnership?
Six months into the deal, we hooked up with Chapelwood. I knew they were interested in starting new local churches. We talked, I told them what I had in mind, and we decided to get to know each other for six months. By the end of that time, we had a sense the Holy Spirit was putting everything together.
Tell us about your congregation.
The Holy Spirit is drawing young, ethnically, and racially diverse persons of all genders and sexual orientations into Holy Family. We are a community where people who are deeply spiritual but deeply suspicious of church come together. If someone feels close to God but doesn't feel like a church has understood them, we get it.
What should a first-time visitor should expect when they walk through the doors of Holy Family?
Holy Family is a place where life-giving traditions come to life within an airy, welcome and creative setting. Picture and aesthetically beautiful room with clean, modern furniture, abstract art, and seats full of people with tattoos and dreadlocks.
Liturgy is a big part of Holy Family, much more so than some other UMC churches. Why?
We are hooking into the original Methodist vision which belonged to Charles and John Wesley, who were Anglican. My interpretation of what Charles and John were up to is, they had the prayer book and it was good, but they needed a way to bring the liturgy to life. So, they began their work as a supplement to the liturgy. Another stream of Methodism, led by Asbury, focused more on Colonial Methodism. That whole impulse of Colonial Methodism is fine, but we have a lot of that. At Holy Family, we are drawing from the Methodist idea that was birthed in the Anglican imagination.