East Texas congregation breaks ground on new church following fire

East Texas congregation breaks ground on new church following fire
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff

DIBOLL, TX (KTRE) - For one East Texas congregation, Sunday marked 11 months since a late-night fire destroyed their place of worship.

"It was like losing a member of our family. We'd all grown up here; been home for all of our lives," said Rev. Charles Weeks of the Ryan Chapel United Methodist Church.

May 3, 2015, a date forever etched into the memories of this tight-knit Diboll congregation.

"That Sunday night we got a call saying that the church was on fire," said Rev. Weeks.

A powerful blaze attacking what many members of the Ryan Chapel United Methodist Church considered a second home, taking with it decades of history.

" It was gone so fast at that time," said Sally Norris, a 60 plus year member.

Many forced to look on in despair, rendered helpless, as their beloved place of worship melted.

Churchless, for the past 11 months, Ryan Chapel has held their services at the church next door.

"They have been beautiful to us," Norris said.

But as the saying goes…

"There is no place like home," said Mary Hendry, a member of the church's board.

So today, the groundbreaking on their new "home."

"It's a new birth. You know? And I'm hoping that the new birth will help us to grow," Weeks said.

"A new outlook; looking at things in a different way, not doing it the way you always did it for all these years because that's the way everybody else did it," Hendry said.

A long road with, at times, an unexplained path from their higher power…

"Lord does things for a purpose. It's been good for us, the church and we're excited about the new beginning, again," Weeks.

Known as the oldest continuous United Methodist Church in East Texas –

"A church is the people and we truly look forward to opening our doors to new people and it's going to be exciting," Hendry said.

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