As the city of Longview recovers from the storms, people today were celebrating moms. Whether that be with a homemade breakfast, a car, or just a big ole hug, for many it included going to church on Sunday.
Music rang through Oakland Heights Baptist church, as mothers, grandmothers, and aunts, all stood up to be recognized. In the crowd, you can find one family of women, praising the Lord, the same way they have been for decades.
“The head of the family sort to speak is to be a Christian example. Of course, we’ve been in Oakland Heights so many years since Karen was a little bitty girl, and this is our church home,” explains Shirley Newman, the matriarch of this family.
Newman sits next to her granddaughter, related not by blood.
“It’s definitely a celebration for me. Being adopted, I was chosen by them for me to be part of this family,” says Brianna Johnson, as she explains why Mother’s Day means so much to her. Sitting next to Brianna is her mother, Karen Johnson.
“We never asked, are we going to church today, we knew Sunday morning, we got up and dressed and came to Oakland Heights,” says Newman.
When the East Texas storms hit, Oakland Heights Baptist church was damaged, and the steeple was blown off. The congregation was left without their church home, and a generation of women remembering the legacy is held.
“Karen’s dad, her granddaddy,” Newman says pointing to Brianna, “climbed up there many, many, years ago and painted it, to paint it, and while he was up there painting, he looked up and saw one of the Deacons. He said what are you doing up here. I came to make sure you didn’t fall.”
Having to move Sunday’s service to the Family Life Center, parishioners say it’s a coincidence because the word family is what represents this church.
“We know just about everybody in Church, and we depend on each other, and that’s what church is all,” says Karen Johnson.
This family plans on keeping the church at its core.
“Always walk with the Lord, that’s what she always says,” says Brianna, as she smiles at her grandmother.
“Always walk with the Lord Brianna, and that’s what we need to do is walk with the Lord,” says Newman.
Oakland Heights Baptist Church plans on not being able to hold service in the sanctuary, for what they believe will be months. Leaders of the church plan on meeting with engineers sometime this week to access the damage and figure out their next steps.
During the sermon, Pastor Cook made a point to say “we are not a steeple, we are a people.”