Street naming for Houston ‘Religious Royalty’ Rev. Calvin Abraham
First Lady Michelle Obama, Rev. Ray Mackey, Rev. Dr. Calvin J. Abraham, President Barack Obama and US Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. Official White House Photo By Chuck Kennedy

Proper honor is way past due for Reverend Dr. Calvin J. Abraham whose life and legacy touched so many, he is considered Houston religious royalty. And though Abraham passed away earlier this year, his influence on those he inspired lives on.

Abraham’s name will live on in a more concrete way, as well.

The city of Houston which gave birth to the Phyllis Wheatley High School alumnus and Hall of Fame member, will unveil a “street honorarium” (i.e. name a street after Abraham) on Saturday, Nov. 5 at 10a.m. at the Bella Vista Missionary Baptist Church located at the intersection of 803 East 36th @ Cornell Street in the Historical Independence Heights.

Rev. Dr. Calvin J. Abraham

“In 1969 he was called the pastor the Bella Vista Missionary Baptist Church from his home church, Greater Galilee Missionary Baptist Church,” said Reverend Ray Mackey, who dedicated his life to God and the church upon hearing one of Abraham’s sermons. “From 1969 to February 2022, he faithfully served the church as senior pastor, and then as pastor emeritus from about 2014 forward.”

Mackey, who served at Bella Vista for a number of years as an associate minister, is the current chair of the Independence Heights Greater Houston Baptist Ministers Alliance, and a mentee of Abraham.

“From the outset, Pastor Abraham was one who had a love for early childhood education, for literacy and adult literacy, as well as the faith perspective. He spent over half a century being committed to the Houston community, and communities across our country, traveling and evangelizing. His legacy of commitment to Christendom and to our community is, in my opinion, certainly worthy of recognition,” said Mackey.

Abraham’s “commitment to Christendom” was recognized by US Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, who invited Abraham and Mackey to attend a holiday ball hosted by President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama during Obama’s last year in office.

Abraham was called to ministry when he was just 17, inspired by a shooting at a nightclub.

In a 2013 interview with the Houston Chronicle, Abraham said, “I had a bullet go right by my head. It could have had my name on it.” Luckily, it did not, allowing Abraham to begin his ministerial life, which took him from his hometown where he attended Texas Southern University, to New York where he enrolled in Manhattan Bible Institute.

Upon returning to Houston, Abraham became Bella Vista’s fourth pastor in 1969.

Abraham was known for his commitment to the community, regularly visiting schools, leading food and clothing drives and offering powerful sermons that moved countless souls to join the church.

“We achieve our mission of being the ‘church that cares’ by reaching out to people and changing lives,” said Abraham, who is celebrated for inspiring more than 40 men, including Mackey, to take up the role of pastor through Abraham’s mentorship.