Several churches in the Rio Texas Annual Conference are just beginning to clean up and begin repairs after Hurricane Harvey tore through parts of the Coastal Bend.
So far, 15 churches in Rio Texas have reported damage related to Harvey. Some experienced minor wind or water damage while others faced damage extensive enough to keep them out of their worship space indefinitely.
Island in the Son United Methodist Church in Corpus Christi sustained some of the most severe damage in the storm. With much of their roof torn off during the storm and extensive internal water damage, the church is unable to meet in their facility. They are currently meeting at the Yacht Club near Mustang Island.
First United Methodist Church, Portland sustained significant water damage to their Celebration Center and Education Building according to Rev. Larry McRorey, Senior Pastor.
"Our Celebration Center and Education building suffered catastrophic water damage due to the failure of the roof drainage systems on both buildings," said McRorey. "As a result, significant water poured into the structures for the duration of the storm. Almost 20,000 square feet involved."
The cleanup process has already begun, and McRorey reports it could take as long as nine months. This past Sunday, September 3, they held one combined worship service at nearby St. Christopher's by the Sea Episcopal Church.
"This allowed us to unite in our common story, celebrate word and sacrament together and feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in a very powerful way," McRorey said.
FUMC, Portland will begin gathering at Gregory-Portland High School for the foreseeable future starting Sunday, September 10.
First United Methodist Church, Rockport looked relatively unscathed after the storm. However, further inspection showed some extensive water damage. That combined with the state of the Rockport community, in general, has led the church to cancel worship until further notice
Rev. Laura Becker, Senior Pastor of First UMC, Rockport, wrote on her church's web page, "Our beloved building has suffered extensive damage and roads in the area still have power lines across them that would keep us from utilizing our facility safely at the present time."
"The sanctuary is not usable because of [the] water damage and other parts of the building would not accommodate our gathering, " she continued. "I do believe that worship is still a basic essential for life, therefore, I encourage you to either find a place of worship that you enjoy with family and friends in the place where you are temporarily relocated."
Other churches that incurred significant damage include Aransas Pass UMC, Jones Chapel, Beeville; El Buen Pastor UMC, Corpus Christi; Faith United Church, Woodsboro; and Getsemani UMC, Port Arthur.
Rev. Kendell Waller, Rio Texas Director of Finance and Administration, is assuring churches that the conference is here to help. "Through coordination with our district superintendents in the area: Crossroads District Superintendent Rev. Dr. Marcus Freeman and Coastal Bend/El Valle District Superintendent Rev. Dr. Robert Lopez, we are aware of the churches that were damaged by Hurricane Harvey, " said Waller. "We will continue to work with those churches, Church Mutual, and volunteers to make repairs and get their facilities operational."
Rev. Waller added that a number of churches from within and outside our annual conference have also offered their volunteers and finances to help these congregations get back to worshipping and serving their community.
"Harvey was a powerful storm, but we have witnessed the great power of God in the response of God’s people." commented Waller.