The Bible has a lot to say about money and especially about debt.

Peter Grandich, co-founder of Trinity Financial Sports & Entertainment Management Co., a firm that specializes in offering guidance from a Christian perspective to athletes and celebrities, was interviewed by Forbes on the topic.

“I get my financial guidance from the Bible,” Grandich, author of “Confessions of a Wall Street Whiz Kid” said. “Money and possessions are the second most referenced topic in the Bible — money is mentioned more than 800 times — and the message is clear: Nowhere in scripture is debt viewed in a positive way.”

A number of pastors and theologians agree. One of them is the Rev. A.W. Berry II, who leads Texas City’s historic Greater Barbour’s Chapel Baptist Church.

Why? Because this congregation just paid off their 30-year building note in only 15 years.

“Through the grace of God and the sacrificial giving of our loving congregation, we were able to retire the multi-million debt,” Berry said. “I am grateful. We’re also celebrating 105 years of ministry to the Texas City-La Marque communities.”

In the same year the 16th Amendment to the Constitution cleared the way for the Internal Revenue Service to try to balance the U.S. government’s books, the Rev. R.C. Barbour established the church that now bears his name.

“Had it not been for his faith and obedience to the call of God, we’d not be here,” Berry said. “Still, when I was called to lead the church in the year 2011 as the youngest pastor to ever serve this historic church, I was tremendously concerned about that debt. But I remembered many of the lessons I learned from my grandfather, the late Rev. C.A. Berry, who pastored Mount Carmel Baptist Church in Houston.”

Berry’s solution was to preach and pray about the promise of becoming debt-free as a congregation.

“I began to focus more on teaching and preaching God’s Word, and seven years later, the church has gone from millions of dollars in debt to zero dollars in debt.”

To celebrate, Barbour’s will host a special mortgage burning worship service at 3 p.m. Saturday at 7420 FM1765.

“This service will culminate many decades of sacrifice by members of our congregation,” Berry added. “I am extremely proud and honored to lead such a great people. We have a rich heritage as one of the oldest and largest churches in Galveston County. I am glad God placed me here.”

Barbour’s Deacon Edwin C. Shelton joined Berry in some practical praise for some who aren’t members here themselves. During a time when church loans were hard to come by at any price, one local firm took the risk of financing a church that would be moving away from its traditional location, something that can represent a financial roadblock since congregants might or might not follow the church across town.

“We praise God for the trust and faith the president of Texas First Bank, Mr. Charles Doyle, his board of directors and loan officer Tyron Collins put in us,” Shelton said. “They provided a $2.5 million loan so we could proceed with the project.”

The original church structure was built only a few blocks from the current Port of Texas City. Once the new building was completed, the members held a formal procession from the old location to their new building.

Some 15 different pastors have shared the pulpit before Berry. Together, they amassed a million dollars toward the $4.5 million campus that it now owns free and clear.

Juanita Jackson has been at Barbour’s since she arrived in Texas City as a newlywed in 1962. She credits its new debt-free status to inspired leadership by Berry and his team.

“We also helped out by donating the pews and the furniture in many of the Sunday School rooms,” Jackson said. “The names of the donors are on the pew or room, and that saved us a lot of money. We are excited and blessed by the building note being paid off. It’s all from God.”

Next week in Our Faith: Why fantasy matters Part 2, with a local author of theological allegories.

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