St. John's UMC Celebrates New Building After 2009 Fire
St. John's UMC in Texas City held a consecration service on April 1st to celebrate rebuilding from a fire on September 10, 2009. Rev. Mike Tyson said the service was an exciting day in the life of the church. “We had about 300 people there. It was Palm Sunday, so the whole procession of clergy and choir were lead in by little children waving palms and shouting Hosanna!” He noted that Dr. Dick Freeman, the pastor who founded the church 58 years ago was in attendance along with Rev. Evelyn Cox – the most recent former pastor, as well as District Superintendent Dr. Roy James.
Tyson said the sanctuary of the building had burned “pretty much to the ground, and the remaining structure was beyond repair.” He noted that the cause was determined not to be arson.
They initially met at First UMC Texas City and within a few weeks moved to Calvary Baptist church for worship. After it was clear the church was a total loss, they put together a vision committee to determine whether they wanted to rebuild in the same location or relocate. “They found a piece of property they liked and could afford – and then went about having a charge conference and talking about it amongst themselves and they elected to relocate,” Tyson continued. “There was a lot of foresight and visioning… They really stepped out in faith and moved to an area where Texas city is expected to grow.” After they had the new location they began worshipping at The Mall of the Mainland which Tyson described as “an exciting opportunity to be the church in the world. It was a good experience for us. It worked out really well.”
“Because we were under-insured we were not able to build as large a building as we previously had based on square footage. We had to make some choices about where we wanted to dedicate space… and ended up dedicating that space to worship, fellowship, youth, and children.”
They held a capital campaign which raised a little over a half million dollars in six months. “When we’re done, if everybody pays their capital pledge we’ll have a long term mortgage of about $120,000.”
St. John’s opened their building for the first worship service on March 25th 2012. “We were most excited to come into our new church home and we are very happy with new facilities. We’re really hopeful for the future of the church.”
Tyson noted that the fire has offered the opportunity to begin new areas of ministry. The new location gave them ability to reach out to an Assisted Living Center near their property. “I would say our church has made the move from a neighborhood church to a growing regional church. Before, we were focused on the neighborhood around us and now our focus is much larger.”