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22 February 2010
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Monday, February 22, 2010
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Mr. PAUL. Madam Speaker, February 28th marks the 170th anniversary of the Avenue L Missionary Baptist Church in Galveston, Texas. The Avenue L Missionary Baptist Church will commemorate this anniversary with a series of events through this month, including a grand parade and old fashioned picnic on February 20th.
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One of the oldest black churches in Texas, Avenue L Baptist is the mother church of African- American worship in the entire state of Texas. Texas Avenue L Baptist began as the Colored Baptist Church, a congregation organized by Reverend James Hutchinson to serve Galveston’s slave population. In 1855, First Baptist trustees Gail Borden, Jr., John S. Sydnor, and Reverend Huckins purchased land from the Galveston City Company for use by the congregation of Colored Baptist’s successor, the African Baptist Church. After the Civil War, the property was formally deeded to the African Baptist Church, who where reorganized under Reverend Israel S. Campbell as the First Regular Missionary Baptist Church in 1867. The church adopted the name Avenue L Missionary Baptist in 1903.
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In 1916, construction of the present brick church building commenced. Many fund-raising activities where undertaken by the people of Galveston to raise the funds for the church. The new structure included art glass windowpanes, a furnace to supply steam heat, and a baptizing pool. A pipe organ was installed in 1921. Reverend H.M. Williams spoke for all of his congregants when he said “Our Church is a most beautiful one.” Today, almost ninety years later, Avenue L Missionary Baptist remains a most beautiful church.
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In 1973 work began on renovations, including the additions of air-conditioning, and central heating. In 1977, the Church’s stained glass windows where refurbished and covered with a protective shield. Reverend R.E. McKeen, who served as pastor of Avenue L Missionary Baptist, during the renovation also began broadcasting sermons on local radio.
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Among the prominent pastors who have served at Avenue L Missionary Baptist Church are Reverend H.M. Williams, who served as moderator of the Lincoln District Baptist Association and led the rebuilding of the church after the hurricane of 1900 and the Reverend G.L. Price who served as President of the National Baptist Convention of American and the Mary Allen College. Reverend Andrew Walker Berry, who served as Pastor from 1985 to 1990 was a noted composer and prolific writer of prospectuses and pamphlets. Reverend Berry also has over 100 gospel songs published through his company “Musico.”
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The Avenue L Missionary Baptists Church remains a pillar of the Galveston Community. Every Sunday hundreds gather in the church for services. In addition, Avenue L Missionary serves the Galveston community with a variety of missionaries including the Young Adult Christian League, the Logos Bible Class, Mid- week prayer and Bible study, the General Mission, Jr. Melodic Messengers, and the Young Adult Ushers. I am pleased to congratulate the Avenue L Missionary Baptist on its 140th anniversary, and wish for its continued success in serving the people of Galveston.