Just over a year ago, the Rev. Rudy Guerrero got the news. His League City church had received about $275,000 worth of damage from the waters of Hurricane Harvey and the prospects looked bleak.
The church had been trying to make small improvements to the property at 320 Texas Ave. for years, but all that was small potatoes compared to reinventing the entire campus.
God and James Tullis are said to be two of the reasons for the churches restoration which was celebrated on a Sunday in late October.
“They call me ‘The Driver’” Tullis said. “Because I’m always making them do things—no one leaves until everything is done. God got everyone to work together and it’s better now than it was before the flood. We had help from out of state too.”
If Tullis is any example of membership here, it’s a hard-working group. He greets, helps and works before services and then disappears into the balcony to run the elaborate sound system.
“I didn’t plan to pick the sound ministry up,” he said. “But the last guy just left so I sat down and figured it out.”
As Guerrero preached that Sunday, he held forth on the ‘before’ picture of Texas Avenue Baptist, just after the waters receded.
“It seemed like every week it looked like things were going to explode,” he said. “We were running over each other trying to get ministry done. The place was totally, totally gone and there was nothing we could do about it. Lord, what are you telling us?”
He then described about a series of contractors, donors and distant volunteers who worked month after month to recreate the church’s physical plan to its better-than-new finish.
But the congregation wasn’t a passive recipient. Directly across the avenue just after the flood, they saw another congregation and its church school in need.
“We put pizzas in wheelbarrows and took them out across the neighborhood,” said Donna Hild, whose commercial cooker allowed her to cook up brisket for the neighborhood and, later, for volunteers restoring the church. “You just keep on going, you can’t get tired.”
Jackie Sciascia has been part of this congregation for a decade.
“After we got out of the military ten years ago, my husband and I were looking for a church and God told me to turn down Texas Avenue, then to turn in here,” she said. “I’d never seen it before. Since then, it’s been so special that God is at work here as we put things back together.”
Now that repairs are done, there’s still one matter that the church hopes to address in the near future: It faces the wrong way.
Yep, the front of the church faces what was once planned to be the new FM 270. Planners moved that road at the last minute a few blocks to the east, leaving the church facing a then empty field. The back of the church actually looks on to its namesake: Texas Avenue. Some minor changes will create a new visitor center and architecturally re-imagine the building so that it will be easier to spot from the road.
Next week in Our Faith: The oldest black church in League City marks the beginning of its 109th year of service.