For an island to be this small, Galveston sure has a lot to offer.
We have 30-plus miles of beaches, cruise ships, historic homes, world-class amusements and quirky and colorful people. And we have churches. And churches. And churches.
Did I mention churches?
In fact, the island is home to over 75 sacred places that range in size from the monolithic Sacred Heart Parish at 1302 Broadway, to the tiny congregations that seem to almost pop up overnight in tight-knit neighborhoods.
Pastor Ray Meador of First Baptist Church, 822 23rd St., sees that as a good thing. Here’s what he told me:
A lot of people have a lot of needs that one church doesn’t meet. It’s the same wherever you go, especially in the Deep South. We have a Chinese Church (Galveston Chinese Church at 2207 67th St.), and the first outreach to Hispanics was Primera (Iglesia) Bautista Church (5809 Broadway). There’s a need for this ministry.
Many of the island’s houses of worship will be spotlighted in the Galveston Historical Foundation’s Sacred Places Tour on Aug. 6. The popular tour benefits GHF’s ongoing restoration of St. Joseph’s Church, the oldest wooden church building in Galveston and the oldest German Catholic church in Texas.
Previous GHF tours have included St. Joseph’s Church, 2202 Ave. K; Avenue L Missionary Baptist Church, 2612 Ave. L; Congregation Beth Jacob, 2401 Ave. K; First Lutheran Church, 2415 Winnie; Grace Episcopal Church, 1115 36th St.; Reedy Chapel AME Church, 2013 Broadway; and Ursuline Chapel at Holy Family Catholic School, 2601 Ursuline Ave.
For more details about the GHF’s 2016 Sacred Places Tour, visit http://www.galvestonhistory.org/events/sacred-places-tour.
Pastor Eugene Lewis, a BOI (Born on the Islander) who grew up in West Point Missionary Baptist Church, 3003 Ave. M, said Galveston’s sacred places have helped to define the island. Lewis, associate pastor at Labor Of Love Christian Fellow Church in Alvin, put it like this:
Growing up, I remember all the Catholic churches and the convents attached to those churches, such as the convent of black nuns at Holy Rosary (Catholic Church, 1420 31st St.). The churches were not mega churches but they were well-attended churches. It’s always good to have choices, but you need to have good choices. The churches really need to be Bible based.
No matter which house of worship we choose to attend, it’s important to focus on what’s real and true, said Pastor Mary Reed, who arrived at Reedy Chapel AME Church in February 2013. Here’s what she said:
When I first got to the island I only knew of a couple of churches and how to get to the beach. That’s all I knew. Once I arrived, two members of the church – Cornelia Harris Banks and (the late) Charles Dorsey – drove me around and the first thing I noticed was the amount of churches. It overwhelmed me.
Because there are so many churches, people can go to any church of their choice. We can see all of the church buildings and the beautiful edifices, but the real church is inside every individual. Our body is the temple of God.