Lake Houston UMC is Rising from the Water
By Roy Maynard
Hurricane Harvey’s floodwaters couldn’t dampen the spirits of worshipers at Lake Houston UMC when their sanctuary was destroyed, they brought lawn chairs and blankets and praised God in the parking lot for three Sundays.
“We brought faith and hope that something good would come from this,” said the Rev. Frank Coats. “And it has, because God is good. We’ve now broken ground on our new sanctuary.”
Hurricane Harvey, a Category 4 storm in 2017, was notable not just for its strength, but its persistence. It hovered over southeast Texas and dumped rain for days, causing massive flooding throughout the region.
“The storm made landfall on a Friday,” said Coats. “On Monday, the floodwaters came for us. The sanctuary was beyond repair; the offices nearly so.”
But God had already been at work at Lake Houston UMC.
“In the months before the flood, we had been working with a Vision Team,” Coats explained. “The road in front of us was being widened by the Texas Department of Transportation. Some of our property had been taken by eminent domain. We were paid for that property, and we were in the beginning stages of deciding what to do with those funds, how to prepare for the growth in our area—the whole reason for widening the road in the first place.”
The church was formulating bold visions for the future.
“We thought about things that could make our facility more attractive,” Coats said. “We’ve always had our children’s ministries scattered throughout the campus; we talked about consolidating those in a Children’s Wing. We dreamed about a Mothers’ Day Out program, and a preschool someday. We talked about bringing our offices forward from the back of the property. We had a lot of plans.”
But until Hurricane Harvey, they were just plans.
“We had some money from TxDOT and a vision in place; what we didn’t have was a clue about how to expedite it all,” Coats said. “But God expedited it for us.”
Faced with a ruined sanctuary, the church’s first concrete step was to prepare the gym to serve as worship space for the interim. They also cleaned out the office area, removing flood-damaged flooring and sheetrock.
“Our office staff worked for months on bare concrete and no walls,” Coats said. “If I wanted to hand the treasurer a piece of paper, I would just hand it through the wall.”
Next, the church lined up architects to make their dreams into designs.
“The Rev. Wes Duncan from First Humble UMC is also an architect, and he designed our new sanctuary,” said Coats. “We have people in our own church who designed the new office space.”
Next came additional fundraising.
“Under the direction of Horizons Stewardship and Ministry Strategist Don Smith, we started the ‘Rising from the Water’ capital campaign and raised pledges of more than $1 million,” Coats said. “We were greatly blessed by having significant gifts from The Woodlands United Methodist Church, the Permanent Endowment Fund of Moody Memorial United Methodist Church, and the Texas Annual Conference.”
“We’re looking at a final cost of $1.2 million, but as with any construction project, the final cost is yet to be determined,” Coats said. “We hope to have a minimum of long-term debt, and that will truly make us ready for what’s to come in the future. It’s really remarkable how God has led the way on this.”