By Lindsay Peyton

Not long after in-person worship resumed after the pandemic, Norris Chapel UMC in Houston had to close its doors again. In September 2022, mold was discovered in the church. “It was heartbreaking,” Pastor Dr. Vastine Watson said.

He explained that church members reported feeling short of breath after returning to the building. “Something was just not right,” Watson said.

When a leak in the roof caused the ceiling to fall in, the true cause was revealed. “That’s when we saw the mold,” Watson said.

The church began raising funds for a renovation. In the meantime, Watson found a temporary solution that would allow worship to continue without a hitch.

“That’s one of the blessings of being part of the UMC,” Watson said. “Another church had a facility they weren’t using.”

He explained that the space became available when Crestmont Park UMC merged with Jones Memorial UMC.

A preschool occupied the former Crestmont Park UMC property during the week, leaving a sanctuary completely available to Norris Chapel on Sundays.

In the meantime, crews replaced the roof, repaired the ceiling and removed the mold from Norris Chapel. “We got it all together,” Watson said.

The congregation returned to Norris Chapel on Mother’s Day. Members gathered in the fellowship hall, then marched into the sanctuary singing, “We’ve come this far by faith.”

“We made a big celebration of it,” Watson said. “It was an exciting time, and we wanted it to be a beautiful day, being back in our sanctuary.”

The church is still making a comeback from COVID’s impact and the subsequent shutdown for repairs. “We have a lot still to do to be back in full church mode and have our ministry back to where it was before,” Watson said.

He remains committed to growing the congregation – and making the church vibrant. “Everyone needs a good pastor,” he said. “And I want to be the best pastor I can be.”

Members are thrilled to be back in the building – and starting up its ministry again. “They’re happy to have a place for fellowship, to see each other on Sunday, to hear the word and to have worship,” Watson said. “For our people, that’s the most important time of the week.”