LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - An East Texas church celebrates more than a century of service to their community and reflects on the challenges they had to overcome to be here today, including their church being condemned.
For 115 years, Goodwill Missionary Baptist Church has opened its doors and heart to Lufkin.
"This church to the City of Lufkin means a vibrant body of people who do not just come to church on Sunday but we reach out into the community," said Rev. M.E. Lyons, Pastor of Goodwill Missionary Baptist Church. "We have an evangelism team. We give away clothes and things of that sort. So to the community we hope and pray that we are received as a church that does not just worship on Sundays but we use it Monday through Saturday to reach out and help those less fortunate."
Its rich history begins in 1898, under an arbor covered with brush. And over the next century the church would be remodeled twice and relocated three more times to its present day home on East Lufkin Avenue.
"We could have had the doors close or we could have had a whole lot of things happen but God has given us a chance to stay in the community and be a beacon of light," said Rev. Lyons.
But in 2004, after years of wear and a termite problem, Goodwill Missionary Baptist Church was condemned by the City of Lufkin.
"It was sorta run down and out of date and termites have eaten it up and it was time," said chairman of the Deacon board, Curtis Duffield. "We just had to have a new building because the other one had been condemned by the city."
"The old church had to be torn down to make room for a new church building. This was done with mixed emotions from the body of believers saddened to close a chapter in the book of life," said Sister Sandra Bradford
And for those like Duffield, it was a sad day to see the old church he attended as a boy in the 60's be torn down.
"The building had been here for so long and to have to see it go like that it was a sad time," said Duffield.
"It's been kind of iffy and shaky but we're really grounded and anchored. Here we are 115 years later," said Rev. Lyons.
And Sunday, October 20, 2013, the parishioners and the community celebrated this milestone with a special service full of worship and singing.
Rev. Lyons says his church has flourished over the years and they will continue to increase their service to the local community for the next 115 years.