Jeffrey L. Boney, award-winning journalist and associate editor for the historic Houston Forward Times newspaper and a city council member for nearby Missouri City was also among the large group of church supporters in attendance.
“It is truly an honor to see Lighthouse Church South come to Fort Bend County. As a neighbor of Sugar Land, I support any and all improvements to the community and it’s great to see great community partners like Pastor Keion and church parishioners gravitate to Fort Bend County. I am looking forward to visiting the church again in the future,” Boney said.
Senior Pastor Keion Henderson serves as leader of one of the fastest growing churches in the greater Houston area with an estimated membership of over 10,000 people at the Houston and Humble campuses. A fourth location in west Houston will open later this year. During a brief interview after the gathering, Pastor Henderson said he was thrilled to launch the Sugar Land church.
“Today is a surreal moment. There are lot of times when dreams come true that people meet those dreams head-on without forewarning; but this day has been seven years in the making. I’m excited. But I’ve learned to have patience,” he said.
Henderson said he and church leaders have made it a goal for their churches to find new and innovative ways to reach out to parishioners and see technology as an important tool to help them reach that goal.
“We believe sometimes the church can lag behind and it sometimes keeps us from sharing our message as fully as those who embrace innovation and technology,” he said.
Plans are roughly 95 percent complete to integrate the technololgy infrastructure needed for the Sugar Land church campus’ programs and ministries to include a live-stream broadcast of all the church’s services and on-demand viewing of past sermons and services, Facebook live appearances and other online special events via the church’s social media accounts, person-to-person prayer chats to allow distance-challenged members and home-bound seniors to connect with the church and a free cellphone app featuring podcasts and event information available for download to both android and Apple phone users among other things.
“I am an entrepreneur at heart, and I bring that skill set to the table,” Henderson said. “When we as church leaders looked at the parishioners and the constituency that God has given us, we looked closely to assess their needs. For example, we interviewed parents with children on the autistic spectrum and they told us they often didn’t come to services because it would be disruptive if their child had an episode during church. So, we thought, what could we do to help?”
As a solution, the church offers a specially designed sensory-adapted room in addition to the main church area for individuals on the autistic spectrum staffed with trained caregivers to allow parents and children both to attend and participate in church services.
“We created a space where these children can participate and learn, and parents can go to the main service and focus on their spiritual needs,” he said.
Other church programs offered include support groups for people dealing with death, grief and loss, support and prayer groups for people experiencing divorce or the loss of a relationship, small-group bible studies, home group gatherings and socials, child care and children’s ministries, ministries for single people, a marriage boot camp seminar and a month-long weekly class for new members who may have specific religious questions and to allow the opportunity to build connections and relationships with the member community,.
When asked why he chose Sugar Land as a church location, Henderson said he felt Sugar Land had chosen him.
“It was told to me about seven years ago by a well-respected African prophet in South Africa. He told me he had a dream that my wife and I were ministering in Sugar Land many years before we came here. I didn’t believe him at the time,” Henderson said he and his wife privately wondered about the prophesy as they were leading their church in Houston at the time.“We thought, well he’s close because Houston is close to Sugar Land.”
But, over the months and years to come Henderson and his wife eventually made connections and built relationships with people in the Sugar Land community that opened the door for the Lighthouse Church South to become a reality.
“I want to thank Fort Bend County for its welcoming arms and I want to thank Sugar Land and the surrounding areas for being a beacon of hope to show us what our area can do economically, to show us how we can build bridges and mend fences and get over our diversity issues and come together whether we are from this continent or another part of the world, no matter whether our skin is white, black or brown,” Henderson said. “This area has shown us with great enthusiasm how we can all come together and build something that will serve the community into the next generation.”
Henderson is the founder and Senior Pastor of the Lighthouse Church ministries, which began in 2009 with 100 members and has grown to a community of more than 10,000 parishioner and spans the globe with its message and ministries. Pastor Keion said he was called to ministry in 1995 at the age of 14, just prior to his freshman year of high school. He attended Indiana-Purdue University in Fort Wayne in his home state of Indiana and excelled as a student-athlete and a campus leader. He and his wife, Lady Felicia Henderson, are parents to three daughters and work together to grow the Lighthouse Church community and other faith-based projects. As senior pastor, Henderson will continue to lead his other churches in Houston and Humble as well as help launch the new fourth location in west Houston later this year. Pastor Rhema Ehiemere, from Richmond, will serve as the campus pastor and will lead the weekly worship services on Sundays. Ehiemere is a well-known conference speaker, ministry leader and the author of three books who works as an organizational development leader in human resources. Lighthouse Church South is located 16305 Kensington Drive. For more information about its services and ministries, visit https://lhhouston.church/lhsl/