BEAUMONT, Texas — The Central City Baptist Church will have their first gathering since an overnight fire erased decades of history.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: The video above is from a July 26, 2022 newscast.)
The call regarding the fire came in Monday, July 25 shortly after 10 p.m.
When crews arrived, the beloved church was engulfed in flames.
The church has been a part of the community since 1961. It was abandoned but Domingo Torres, the church's former pastor, said it was being repaired in hopes of reopening soon.
The church will hold an outdoor gathering Sunday, July 31 at 6 p.m. in the parking lot at the corner of Franklin Street and Avenue E.
Executive Director of the Golden Triangle Baptist Network Dr. Jim Turnbo says on behalf of Pastor Jose Gutierrez and members of the church, they are very grateful for the comments and support expressed since the aftermath of the fire.
"While the fire has postponed original plans to reopen the church at this location it cannot stop the church group from serving this community. This gathering is an opportunity to pray for our neighbors, seek the Lord together, and communicate clearly that the people of this community remain on our hearts,” he said.
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Turnbo wants the church to be a pillar in the community and a place that offers worship in Spanish.
“We partnered with Gutierrez to come and restart the church,” Turbo said. “We have been working on repairs and cleaning up the property in anticipation of reopening the church.”
The good news is the building is insured. The bad news is there is no timeline for when the church could reopen.
“We want to be involved as quickly as possible,” Turnbo said. “We can't put a date on it again because it's so soon. How we can begin to clear that lot? We certainly want to render that lot safe for the community. The best thing we can do for our neighbors is to clear that lot to be a safe place.”
Turnbo is getting help from his fellow Christians. Military Veteran Paul Jackson heard about the church fire.
Jackson knew it was his duty to help clear away some of the rubble.
"As I drove up, I saw the men, the firemen, were getting their gear, to get together and thanked them for the work they had done," Jackson said. "Then after they left, I had taken a look around and saw that there was debris on the ground. You know what I'm going to do, pick it up. So that's what I did. It's my duty and responsibility. So, I am glad that I was able to do it. "
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Neighbor Major Goldman said the church was a staple to the community and he and his family used to go for bible services every week.
"It's a sad day for our community. This fire just came out of no where. I went to the car to get something out of the car and I smell something and about two to three minutes later this is what happens," he said.
Neighbors also tell 12News transients would reside inside of the church. Torres says there were plans to reopen the church to the community for services.
He said they were going to be bringing in a pastor from Houston and a new roof was recently installed and electrical repairs were being made.
"It's just heartbreaking you know cause I knew that we were going to start the church again and bring people again and start ministering again and now this happened," he said.
Still in the ash and rubble remains the spirit of an organization determined to revitalize the neighborhood and reopen the church for the faithful.
From a Golden Triangle Baptist Network news release:
The Central City Baptist Church will have their first gathering since the fire on Sunday evening, July 31, at 6:00 PM. The event will be held in the parking lot at the corner of Franklin Street and Ave. E in Beaumont, across the street from the church. This will be an outdoor event, weather permitting.
Dr. Jim Turnbo, Executive Director of the Golden Triangle Baptist Network said, “On behalf of our pastor, Jose Gutierrez, and our members, we are grateful for the warm comments and support expressed by the community in the aftermath of Monday evening’s fire. While the fire has postponed original plans to reopen the church at this location it cannot stop the church group from serving this community. This gathering is an opportunity to pray for our neighbors, seek the Lord together, and communicate clearly that the people of this community remain on our hearts.”
Questions may be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org. For information about the Golden Triangle Baptist Network, visit www.gtbn.us.