A Brief History of the Houston Center
In the summer of 1972 Self-Realization Fellowship invited devotees from Texas and adjoining states to meetings chaired by a Brother Mokshananda at St. Anthony’s Hotel in San Antonio, Texas. During the meetings, four devotees from Houston connected. After returning to Houston, they began meeting in private homes for meditations. This was the beginning of a Self-Realization Fellowship group in Houston. They continued “house hopping” for several years until the mid-seventies when they began meeting in rental facilities, “The Blue Door Chapel” and later the “Yellow Brick Road.” Various groups used both facilities, so members had to set up before each service and then take everything down afterwards. This went on for several years.
Then in the late seventies two devotees purchased a church on Fulton Street which they turned into a daycare center. They offered a portion of the building to the group as a permanent meeting place. For the next sixteen years devotees met at the Fulton Street facility. Interestingly the building is situated between the streets Luther and Burbank. Luther Burbank, the great botanist, was a close friend of Paramahansa Yogananda. The Autobiography of a Yogi is dedicated to him.
Over the years the devotees put a great deal of effort into remodeling the chapel and fitting out a Sunday school room. Two skilled members of the group fashioned a beautiful altar that is still used in the present chapel. Eventually the devotees who owned the facility moved out of state, selling the daycare center. The new owners allowed the group to rent the space used for services and Sunday school.
In December of 2001 the group arranged with Mother Center to create a building fund for the eventual purchase of a permanent home. A pledge drive was started and funds began to accumulate. In 2004 a member noticed an ad for a church in the Garden Oaks area of Houston. After visits by members and consultations with Mother Center the property was purchased on June 16th, 2004. The Houston group finally had its own home.
There are four buildings on the property — the chapel; a former residence that now houses the Sunday school rooms, the parent-and-infant room, the kitchen, and the multipurpose room; a mobile building that serves as the office and storage area; and a tool shed. The chapel was useable but not ideally suited for SRF services. The residence also needed considerable work. A major remodeling project began in January of 2005 and continued for a total of ten months, the work being done by devotees.
The chapel was officially dedicated on November 5th, 2005 by Brother Vijayananda and Bramachari Lynn. In the subsequent years, attendance at services and Sunday school substantially increased. In 2019 an anonymous donor gave a large sum to the Houston Center to purchase land and build a new chapel, which will accommodate the needs of our growing group.