Larry Patrick once argued against the Bible and Christianity.
He now instructs others about their teachings.
Patrick, 69, has brought a biblical vocational school to Fort Bend County. He is the founder of Charis Theological Seminary & Bible Institute, which opened in 1988 and has been housed at multiple locations around Greater Houston.
Patrick recently opened a campus at 3964 Bluebonnet Dr. in Stafford, where the school plans to begin offering seminary classes this fall. Patrick said he had only two classrooms at his previous location on Bissonnet Street and hopes to offer as many as 12 classes per semester in Stafford.
Patrick’s path to being a pastor and professor and returning to Fort Bend County – where he lived in Sugar Land and Missouri City after moving to the Houston area in 1977 – was a unique one. He said he began his theology studies while serving in the United States Air Force in Athens, Greece, where he transformed from Bible denier to believer.
“You have a mother that prays for you, and eventually some things happened that made me go back and read the Bible for myself when I was 22,” Patrick said. “It gave me a fresh perspective. By the time I got back over to the U.S. I realized I was going to be a pastor.”
Upon moving to Houston, and despite lacking formal seminary training, Patrick said he began teaching at various institutions throughout the city before meeting with an old friend in 1983. That friend gave Patrick a push to create a school.
A few years later, Charis Theological Seminary & Bible Institute was born.
Patrick said Charis initially made its home off Eldridge Parkway near Mission Bend – where Church Without Walls now stands – until a fire burned down the original church down in 1993. From there, the school moved to McGee Chapel off Highway 6.
Patrick said Charis then leased space in a townhome center on Beechnut Street until 2006, then leased a building off Bissonnet Street until a new property owner bought the space and did not want the campus there.
So Patrick moved to Stafford.
“We simply taught where we had enough space to teach. Our last facility only had two classrooms, so the school dwindled down quite a bit, but we continued to teach,” he said.
Patrick said he has taught in churches and schools in countries such as Uganda and Ghana over the last three years. But in his heart, he wanted to do more on the home front.
“It became evident that we needed to start growing more, and God led us here,” Patrick said. “We want to start prayerfully offering courses for people in Stafford and surrounding areas.”
Classes offered at Charis will include three semesters of basic Bible doctrine, eight semesters of systematic theology, eight semesters of Old Testament studies and eight semesters of New Testament studies as well as specialized courses for $50 per class plus a $10 registration fee.
“I believe God has moved us to Stafford, and we’d like to make Stafford our home and build something from this,” Patrick said. “I hope we’ll be well-received now that we’re finally able to do so.”
For more information on Charis and to see what the school has to offer, visit ctsbi.org.