Pioneering African-American Texas Baptist dies

(Time Warner Cable News Austin Images)

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Email

AUSTIN—Trailblazing African-American pastor Marvin Griffin, a former first vice president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, died Christmas Day at age 90.

marvin griffin mug150Marvin GriffinGriffin served 42 years as pastor of the landmark Ebenezer Baptist Church in Austin, and he led the church to create the East Austin Economic Development Corporation to provide affordable housing, care for senior adults, a child-development center and other services in its neighborhood.

Griffin was the first African-American graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also was the first African-American president of the Austin school board, where he worked to integrate the city’s schools and ensure a quality education for children of all races.

Gov. John Connally appointed Griffin to the Texas Southern University board of regents. He also served as a delegate to the tumultuous 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

grifffin bgctleaders400Marvin Griffin with former Texas Baptist Executive Directors William M. Pinson and Charles Wade..In addition to his election as BGCT first vice president in 1996, Griffin also served as historian of the National Baptist Convention of America Inc., corresponding secretary of the Missionary Baptist General Convention of Texas, and director of the Christian education enrichment program at the National Baptist Fellowship of Churches.

He was dean of the National Congress of Christian Workers and served as director and lecturer of the teacher-training department of the National Baptist Sunday School and Baptist Training Union Congress.

He served as a trustee of Hardin-Simmons University from 1991 to 1999.

Born Feb. 20, 1923, in Wichita, Kan., Griffin graduated from Bishop College in Dallas. He also earned master’s degrees at Oberlin Graduate School of Theology and Southwestern Seminary and a doctorate from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

He was pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Waco 18 years before he went to Ebenezer Baptist in 1969.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Lois King Griffin, and a daughter, Gaynelle Griffin Jones, whom President Bill Clinton appointed U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas. Jones was the first African-American woman to hold that post and the first black woman to serve on the First Court of Appeals in Texas. Griffin is survived by two daughters, Ria Griffin and Marva Lois Carter.

Editor’s Note: The article was revised after originally posted to correct a date in the first paragraph.


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Email

Care to comment? Send an email to our interim opinion editor, Blake Atwood. Maximum length for publication is 250 words.