Building on the Rock -- Local church gets help building new facility

by By Cristin Parker
Volunteers with the Texas Mission Builders work on getting the frame up for Memorial Missionary Baptist Church's new building.
Photo by Cristin Parker Volunteers with the Texas Mission Builders work on getting the frame up for Memorial Missionary Baptist Church's new building.
Photo by Cristin Parker

Memorial Missionary Baptist Church wasn’t planning to rely on the kindness of strangers – but they got it.

The church, located on Crockett Street in Rusk, is currently building a new facility directly behind the current church building.

“It’s old, it’s run down,” church member Otis Bryant said of the decision to build a new worship center. “It’s been here a long time and it’s got a lot of issues.”

Construction costs put the dream of building a new church out of reach for the congregation, but volunteers with the Texas Mission Builders (TMB) are already making that dream a reality. TMB is a non-profit, volunteer organization of Missionary Baptist Churches which provides labor and expertise in building new church buildings for other Missionary Baptist churches.

“In the past, missions and churches have, at times, settled for much less than was needed in the area of construction of new buildings or additions to their existing buildings because of the high cost of material and labor,” the TMB’s website states. “The central purpose of Texas Mission Builders is to give Missionary Baptists the opportunity to do greater work for the Lord in the future by organizing a volunteer work force to help in the construction of church buildings or additions to existing buildings free of charge; the soliciting of people within our churches of various skills and crafts to use their talents for the Lord and to compile a list of names and addresses of people who would be willing to volunteer their services.”

Bryant said, “This organization is wonderful. They help allow churches who otherwise couldn’t afford them, to have very nice buildings.”

The organization also works with the American Baptist Association.

“We’ve done probably 320 or so projects for churches all over the state,” project supervisor and Waco-area resident Mike Pearson said. “We’ve saved a lot of churches millions of dollars in construction costs. A modern building these days costs a minimum of $100 a square foot – and that’s dirt cheap. When we step in and provide the labor, we can build that same building for less than $50 a foot.

“It’s a blessing to be able to do God’s work and help strengthen these communities,” Pearson said. These days – things are pretty rough, and I think the reason is that people aren’t getting the strong moral focus they used to get. It’s that focus that really defines what kind of person you are, I think, and our churches are key to getting that focus.”

Other churches the organization has helped build include projects in Parkwood, Alva, Logansport, Memory Lane, Killeen, Waco, Bogata, College Station, Johntown, Pine Springs, Vanderbilt, Spring Hill, Corinth, Unity, and Liberty Chapel.

Construction of the new 80-foot by 120-foot church building is already underway. Volunteers helping build the local church hail from as close as Rusk and New Summerfield to as far away as Cleveland, Pasadena, Corsicana, Houston, Timpson and Joaquin.

“I had retired when the Lord put it on me to get involved,” Oakland Missionary Baptist Church member, Rusk resident and electrician Tallie Holland said. “I got my license reinstated so I could help.”

New Summerfield resident Bob Jones is also helping build the new church, which features a fellowship hall, sanctuary and classrooms. Church members were responsible for getting the building’s foundation laid, before volunteers arrived to begin construction. Congregation members also provide volunteers with breakfast and lunch two days a week, and room in the church parking lot to park their RVs and camper trailers.

“The city has worked with us to allow us to stay in our campers on site, so that’s a big blessing, too,” Pearson said.