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Moving past the pandemic and forward with heritage, Riesel church celebrates 160 years

Posted at 7:28 AM, Jun 07, 2024

RIESEL, Texas (KXXV) — Springhill Community Church in Riesel celebrates 160 years and getting back to normal services post-pandemic through a commemorative Sunday service titled "Mission Possible - Not Looking Back, Focus Forward."

  • Church members detail the recent ups and downs including the impacts of the pandemic and how community, faith, and heritage kept them strong and the church surviving to today.
  • Church members will also welcome a new pastor on Sunday, June 9.

BROADCAST TRANSCRIPT:

Celebrating almost two centuries in Central Texas.

I’m Senior Neighborhood Reporter Bobby Poitevint, uncovering the recent highs and lows of Riesel’s Springhill Community Church told through the eyes of its church members and what they say is the secret to their church being around 160 years old.

A church founded in the era of slavery. A symbol of resilience and hope for its members today.

“I’ve seen it been remodeled from old on up until it is now and it’s just my home,” church member Clifford Viewins said.

Brick by brick, Springhill Community Church in Riesel — kept alive 160 years through family, faith, and tradition that started at a young age.

“But my mother always got us ready and brought us to church and so that’s just what we’re used to. This is our second home,” church member Beverly Haynes said.

Faces, names, and memories fill this second home.

“This is some of the young girls that grew up in this church,” a Johnson family member said.

With heritage buried deep in these grounds.

“I have my son, my grandson and you know some of my nieces and nephews so it’s a lot of family," a Johnson family member said.

Johnson family members — along with potentially hundreds of more people live on — in the church’s cemetery.

“So it’s just family. It’s just family,” a Johnson family member said.

But the church and its members recently experienced heartache by the United Methodist Church conference — but prevailed.

“When the conference was trying to eliminate our church because we were losing so many members and we were fighting trying to keep it,” a Johnson family member said.

"When was that?”

“Last year, and I was going up and down the highway to the conference trying to save and we saved it,” a Johnson family member said.

In the last few years, these pews left empty.

This Sunday, members welcome each other back to normal services and fresh improvements — saying goodbye to a pandemic that kept them apart.

“We, were so, what should I say... distraught about the fact that there might be a possibility that our church wouldn’t reopen," Haynes said.

A re-dedication service will be held on Sunday as the church welcomes a new pastor.

Church members say this service is a testament to the power of faith, community, and the importance of preserving heritage — their story.

“We are just excited about being able to come back to a place where our mothers and fathers raised us and instilled in us the importance of being in church because that gives you a higher purpose. It has molded us and made us into the people that we have come to be and we love it. We were not going to let it go so that’s why we are here once again,” Haynes said.

Sunday’s celebration services will be held at 10 in the morning and open to anyone who wants to come out.

The Johnson family reunion is scheduled for the days leading up.

Reporting here in Riesel, I’m Senior Neighborhood Reporter Bobby Poitevint.


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