Nacogdoches church, pipeline protesters find common ground

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - A Nacogdoches Baptist church and a group of young Keystone XL Pipeline protesters are an odd combination, but it's working rather well for Austin Heights Baptist Church in Nacogdoches.

The relationship is seen as an answered prayer by the church pastor.

Like many churches, Austin Heights Baptist Church wants to build a youth ministry. So prayers began and were answered according to pastor Kyle Childress. He penned an article about it titled, 'protesters in the pews'.

"Their body language is dialoguing with me. Then afterwards they ask lots of questions," said Pastor Kyle Childress.

The connection continues. The youth oppose the Keystone XL pipeline. So does Childress.  He attends protests in the area. Perhaps he wishes he could tree sit, but settles for journaling and writing about his observations.

"I'm impressed with them. I mean, they come from all over the country and they're articulate and they're very bright and well educated," said Childress.

They are concerned about the environment. A few were drawn to a film on the subject sponsored one Saturday night by the church.  Like any good pastor, Childress invited them to church.

"That morning we had four. The next week we had 30 and they've been coming ever since," said Childress.

Childress says he does have a personal goal in mind while covering the pipeline protests. He wants to break down barriers between the young people and the law enforcement.

"It's one thing to hear about a blockader as some kind of stereotype young hippie or something like that. It's something else when you know them. You know their story. You know the sacrifice they've made," said Childress.

Childress believes the youth in no way can stop the powerful Keystone XL pipeline, but he admires their tenacity for trying.

"Maybe these young adults as well as a small congregation and some others who are involved can make a bigger difference that we don't yet understand," said Childress.

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