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Church History

1924 -1930: Where It All Began

Blacksmith location of David Chapel

Ceiling Hills Community was located just south of the city of Austin, near the banks of the Colorado River.

The church began within a blacksmith shop because a small group of Christians living in the Ceiling Hills Community became concerned about how young boys of the community were observing the Lord’s Day (Sunday) by playing marbles. As a result of their concern, a neighborhood meeting was called on April 27, 1924. Under the supervision of two ministers, Rev. Ben Wroe and Rev. Connie Alexander, the church was founded with 28 members. It was originally named “Davis Chapel,” in honor of the Horace Davis family, on whose farm the church was organized on. 

A Spiritual Leader

Rev. L.M. Marshall

In 1925, Rev. L. M. Marshall was called to lead this newly organized body of Christians and became the first official pastor of the church congregation.

From Ceiling Hills to the City of Austin

Images and Documentation of Austin, Texas in the 1920s

On October 30, 1926, the church community relocated from the Ceiling Hills Community to the city of Austin. The church building became a tabernacle on the corner of 14th St. and Chestnut Ave. Here, the name of the church was changed to “David Chapel.”

1930 - 1950: Growing and Building

Rev. S.L. Davis

Tabernacle location of David Chapel

TIn 1937, after the passing of Rev, L.M. Marshall, Rev. S. L. Davis became pastor and continued to lead the church in spiritual and financial growth. A house and three lots at the corner of 12th St. and Chestnut Ave. were purchased.

Rev. E.G. Gibbs

Church Cornerstone


Stucco location of David Chapel

In 1940, Rev. E. G. Gibbs was called as David Chapel’s pastor. The mortgage was paid off and the old tabernacle was torn down on July 4, 1940. The construction of a new stucco structure began. 


Rev. W.I. Rector

In 1948, Rev. W. I. Rector became pastor and served one year and five months until his passing. He was known for establishing the Week Day Church. 

Churches that were birthed out of David Chapel’s membership during this time:

  • Mt. Calvary Missionary Baptist Church
  • Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church
  • Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church

1950 -1963: Further Expansion


Rev. J.L. Dawson


Men replacing the 19th St. sign with the Martin Luther King. Jr. Blvd. sign in 1975.

In 1950, Rev. E. H. Marshall, succeeded Rev. W. I. Rector. He served less than a year and Rev. J. L. Dawson became the pastor. Within eight years, the church membership outgrew its facilities. A larger site was purchased on the corner of 19th (now Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.) and Chestnut Ave. Read more here.


Construction underway at the corner of 19th (now Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.) and Chestnut Ave.  

Cornerstone laying ceremony


The current church building on Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. and Chestnut Ave.

The planning, construction, and financing of this new David Chapel building were provided by African-Americans. The architect was John S. Chase, the first African-American to graduate from the University of Texas at Austin in architecture. The contractor was Oliver B. Street and the St. John Regular Baptist Association, an organization of Central Texas Black churches, financed the building efforts as white banks would not provide financing.

David Chapel Choir in new building  

David Chapel congregation on Sunday morning


Young girls in the choir stand of the new building

On January 4, 1959, Rev. Dawson led the congregation into the new building. He later relocated outside of Austin in October 1963.

1964 - 1992: Expanding the Vision

Rev. James E. Obey,  Sr.  

Rev. James E. Obey, Sr. (second from the left) conducting church business

On the first Sunday of January 1964, Rev. James E. Obey, Sr. was called as pastor. Rev. Obey pastored David Chapel until his passing in May 1992. Under his guidance and leadership, many accomplishments were met, including adding air-conditioning into the entire church plant, constructing a new parsonage, sponsoring the Marshall apartments and 1.2 million dollar rent supplement housing project, under FHA’s 221 (D) 3 Program. 

1992 - Present: A New Era of Leadership

Rev. Obey ordaining Pastor Parker with wife, First Lady J. LaVerne Morris-Parker present

Rev. Joseph C. Parker, Jr., Esq., D.Min.

On May 18, 1992, God called Rev. Obey home, and the church was greatly saddened by the loss of this great leader. Following the homegoing of Rev. Obey, the mantle of leadership was placed upon the Rev. Joseph C. Parker, Jr., Esq., D. Min. who was called to become our seventh pastor on September 29, 1992, and is our longest serving pastor.  Prior to this, Pastor Parker previously served as Associate Pastor for Christian Education for about ten years, making him the first ministerial son of David Chapel to serve as pastor. 

Pastor Parker at his 27th Pastoral Appreciation and Celebration Sunday service (October 2019)

Competition trophies David Chapel has acquired for Sunday School, sports, and choir performances, since 1968

Additional accomplishments include:

Rev. Beverly Sonnier admiring the dynamic worship of the David Chapel Mass Choir 

Elevated Women in Leadership

In 1997, Rev. Beverly Sonnier, an ordained Baptist minister, became the first female staff minister and associate minister, serving as the Minister of Christian Education and Ministries Development. In 1999, David Chapel licensed Rev. Beryl Southall as our first female ministerial-daughter to preach the gospel. Finally in 2009, Rev. Dr. Bernadine S. Davis became the first female ministerial-daughter ordained by David Chapel, having been licensed in 2001. Pastor Parker also appointed our first female trustees, Sis. Delores Duffie, Barbara Coursey, and Darlene Clemons during his tenure.


David Chapel on the 30th Pastoral Appreciation and Celebration Sunday service (October 2022)

Enhanced Church Operations

David Chapel expanded staff positions, including the addition of the Minister of Adult Discipleship and Spiritual Formation, the Minister of Infants, Children, Youth and Young Adults Discipleship, and the Minister of Worship.

David Chapel volunteering at the Central Texas Food Bank

Increased Community Efforts

In 1997, David Chapel began providing leadership to revitalize the Chestnut neighborhood by developing and implementing the Chestnut Neighborhood Plan.

In 2006, David Chapel became a founding member of the Texas Congregations United for Empowerment, Inc. (TCUE), a collective of Central Texas Black churches that seek economic and other empowerment, of which Pastor Parker is the founding president.

Pastor Parker blessing the David Chapel Prayer Trail & Garden, located on the Springdale Rd. property

A Vision for the Future

In 2009, David Chapel purchased 17 acres on Springdale Rd. and property on Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. to relocate and build new facilities. Capital fundraising efforts to finance the new facility construction  are underway.