Houston City Threatens To Use Eminent Domain To Bulldoze Historic Black Church

On Aug. 4, Liberty Institute filed a lawsuit on behalf of the churches against the city of Houston, alleging that the Housing Authority’s threat to take their land is a violation of Texas’ religious freedom law, including the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Lawyers for the institute note that the city’s actions would force the churches out of the community they have served for more than half a century.

Houston’s Fifth Ward is known for its violent past. In 1979, Texas Monthly called it “Texas’ toughest, proudest, baddest ghetto.” But 60 years ago, God called a young pastor, Roy Lee Kossie, to bring the gospel to this hell on earth, a place locals referred to as “Blood Alley” for its many killings.

In 1966, Kossie, then 33, planted a church on Lyons Avenue.

“The Lord spoke to me and said ‘Son, this is where I want the church. Right here in the face of this kind of environment,’” Kossie said.

Within a few years, he and his wife scraped together enough to buy the old movie theater where they were holding church meetings. It was one of two theaters in city where blacks were allowed prior to the civil rights movement. They named it the Latter Day Deliverance Revival Center and offered the “full gospel,” Pentecostal style.

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