They have overcome

Members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, now known as the Fannin Street United Methodist Church, walk through the ruins of the church after it was struck by a tornado in 1902. (Contributed photo)

Fannin Street United Methodist Church is as resilient as its people.

The church, now located at 354 S. Mt. Auburn Street, has withstood the early days of post-slavery,  one of the worst natural disasters in Texas history, and other challenges that would have brought the end to many congregations.

But on Sept. 23-25, members and the community will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the church.

“I think the reason the church has lasted so long is because of the people who started this church and the generations that have followed,” said Sallie Mae Frederick, wife of Fannin Street UMC Rev. Austin Frederick.

The three-day event, which is open to the public, will begin on Friday, Sept. 23 with a musical and guest musicians and choirs performing from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

On Saturday, Sept. 24, a community barbecue will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The day will include fellowship and free barbecue sandwiches. A ribbon-cutting ceremony and blessing of a new walking trail on the church’s property will be held at 2 p.m.

Rev. Wanda Taylor Bess will be the guest preacher for the 11 a.m. service on Sunday, Sept. 25. Rev. Edward Perry will be the guest preacher for a 3 p.m. anniversary celebration service.

Fannin Street UMC began in 1872 as the Methodist Episcopal Church. The name was changed to Fannin Street United Methodist Church in 1968.

“In the beginning, there was the struggle coming right out of slavery,” Sallie Mae Frederick said. “The church was a place where the people could come together and forget about everything else that was going on in their lives. They could come together and worship God.”

On one such summer Sunday in 1902, an F4 tornado leveled the church while members were worshipping inside.

A marker on the church property is dedicated to the 50 lives that were lost that day.

“The faithfulness of the people to God has been what has kept this church together through the years,” Sallie Mae Frederick said. “To God be the glory for the great things He has done. Even though some people might not see what this church has done as great, these were huge obstacles for the people to overcome. Their thankfulness kept them going.”

 •cslavik@mysoutex.com•

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