Historic Missouri City church founded by ex-slaves anticipates renovation

MISSOURI CITY, Texas (KTRK) -- A historic Missouri City church founded by former slaves was damaged by a fire over a decade ago.

With no running water and outdoor porta-johns for restrooms, St. John's Missionary Baptist Church is barely standing and in danger of disappearing altogether.

However, an unlikely hero has stepped up. A pastor from a much larger, much wealthier church nearby committed to bringing the little wooden church, registered as a Texas historical site, back to life.

"We have an opportunity to do something awesome. To not just re-brand, but lift up and secure the legacy of those former slaves, of what was in their heart the moment they formed that church in 1869," said senior pastor of The Church at Bethel's Family, Walter August Jr.

With local good works through their Heavenly Hands food distribution pantry and worldwide missionary efforts, Pastor August committed to a $1 million mission to build a new St. John's in Missouri City, on the historic site.

"I came back to our church and said, 'Listen, we go to Africa. We go to Haiti. We go to all these other places and we do great work every place else. There's a need right here and Missouri City is something historical, something we can wrap ourselves around,'" said August.

With financial help from the only African-American owned banking institution in Texas, Unity Bank, August and St. John's executive pastor Gerald Rivers are also asking for the public's help in funding the next 100 years of the church.

If you'd like to help donate to build the new St. John's Missionary Baptist Church, visit StJohnMbcMissouriCity.com.

The old church is set to be demolished soon.

St. John's Pastor Rivers says they plan to use some of the original wooden beams of the little church to build a cross that will hang in the new building when it is completed within the year.

Called to the church, he says, by God, Pastor Rivers says this will be a true resurrection.

"I see new life and resurrected life. I see hope, I see people being saved."

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