Texas City Church Observes New Ways to Reach Community

First Christian Church of Texas City is working to understand residents’ needs despite financial challenges and limited community input. The First Christian Church held its inaugural Community Listening Session on Saturday at the intersection of 21st Street N. and Loop 197 to evaluate community needs.

Even though the event was open to everyone, no one attended. However, this did not deter the church leaders from their commitment to serving the community, as stated by Rev. Darnell Fennell. “We spent time refining our approach to engage with the community, understanding that community listening sessions may not always be engaging,” Fennell stated. “We discussed ways to generate additional traffic.”

Established in 1922, the church has been an integral part of the community for over a century. Fennell mentioned that the church has been focused on assisting the less fortunate and interacting with the community for the last hundred years.

Fennell, along with church staff members, made the decision in November of last year to sell or lease the building due to a decrease in membership and financial difficulties, according to him. Usually, less than 20 individuals show up for Sunday services, with most of the congregation being 50 years or older and long-time members.

“Since we listed the church for sale, the process has been a bit slow, but we are still actively considering how we will address social needs in the community, which is one of our main priorities,” Fennell explained. “We have more buildings than people, which has consumed our resources and limited our ability to serve more.”

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The church leaders organized the listening session to give the community an opportunity to share their important needs, allowing church members to collaborate on effective responses, according to Fennell. Church leaders have developed a survey on issues such as homelessness, fair housing, and public safety for Texas City residents to complete either in person or online through the church’s Facebook page.

Fennell mentioned that church members will be able to distribute surveys to residents at events and large gatherings. “We are currently investigating ways to incorporate more personal interactions that go beyond being solely based on survey data,” Fennell stated. “We wanted to have roundtable discussions to explore why people came to the city, learn about their hopes and concerns related to the city.”

Fennell is looking to collaborate with various organizations and groups during this phase of learning and listening, according to him. The congregation is not officially partnered with anyone at the moment, but is linked with different social service agencies and LGBTQ+ resources for those in need, according to Fennell.

The congregation will keep gathering on Sundays for services. After selling the building, church leaders intend to either share or rent a space in Texas City, according to him. Fennell is optimistic about First Christian Church of Texas City being back in a building within a year or two.

“We plan to bring local congregations and clergy together at our church to discuss what they believe is lacking,” Fennell mentioned regarding future objectives. “This will also allow us to further develop connections with large communities in the city.”


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