San Augustine church celebrates owning their sanctuary by burning mortgage note

SAN AUGUSTINE, TX (KTRE) - A San Augustine church had to begin again, twice in the past century. Once after a devastating storm and the second after a fire but the congregation never gave up and worked hard to make it to the day when the church would finally be paid off.

It was a joyous day at Reed Chapel Baptist Church in San Augustine as the congregation celebrated freedom from their mortgage.

"Today is the culmination of 13 years of hard work," said Reed Chapel Baptist Church, chairman of the board, George Martin. "This is the end of our mortgage and this is a great event because finally our sanctuary we're getting it paid off."

The church was founded in 1900 and has overcome many challenges to make it to their mortgage burning celebration. In March 1943, Reed Chapel Baptist was leveled after a devastating storm but the congregation re-built. 11 years later, in October 1954, the church was again completely destroyed by fire.

"We've been real resilient people and we've been able to move forward," said Martin.

They've been able to move forward so much that the church constructed a new sanctuary in 2000 to house their growing body of members and Sunday, January 5, 2014 church leaders lit their mortgage documents on fire and watched them turn to ashes as they celebrated full ownership of Reed Chapel Baptist Church.

"It's the end of an era because we've worked so hard in the last 13 years working toward paying off the church," said deacon officer, Willie Crain. "This is all about getting rid of a long indebtedness and becoming free of that indebtedness so that we can work toward other things."

Like focusing on the church's different ministries for the community….

"Now we much be about the ministries of the church. The hard labor of educating our people about the work of Christ and work on bringing people to Christ," said Crain.

The church congregation had the intention of paying off the mortgage in 15 years but their hard work made it possible to do it in just 13.

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