The historic, and what many call the most beautiful building in Robstown, First United Methodist Church, is now up for sale after the congregation decided to disband. A live auction, hosted by Elco Auctions, will be held on Saturday, Apr. 5, setting the stage for a bitter-sweet goodbye.
The pastor, Reverend Vanessa LeVine, says that the historical mainstay for prayer and spiritual guidance was founded in 1909, and the old Greek Revival-styled building was completed in 1924, on the brink of the Depression. Once the congregation pulled out of that brief time of hardship, the church flourished for several decades until time caught up with them.
“As the original founding families started to grow older, and kids went off to college and didn’t come back, and time took its toll, they started to experience financial trouble,” said Pastor LeVine. “They struggled through that, having turkey dinners to make ends meet, until they finally declined to such a place that they realized that with their median age, physical limitations and resources, they just couldn’t maintain the church.”
According to Pastor LeVine, the congregation was acutely aware of how many beautiful churches stand abandoned and are left to deteriorate, and determined that this was not an option for First United Methodist. In the end, the congregation decided that the best option was to auction the church, and all of its contents, lending hope that someone will resurrect the building for communal use.
“They are praying that someone will purchase the building and use it in such a way that it will continue to bless the community. All kinds of wonderful possibilities have been listed up; everything from another church coming in that has more affluence and more people, and the ability to care for it the way it needs to be cared for; to a cultural arts center; or a place for classes; there’s seventeen classroom or office spaces there,” said Pastor LeVine. “It’s a beautiful building. Some have said to us that they feel like it’s the most beautiful building in Robstown; I guess that’s objective. But they just didn’t feel that it would be good stewardship with the gift God had given them, with the legacy that they inherited in that beautiful historic building, to just allow it to be boarded up, closed off, and left unloved."
Enter Danny Jennings and his Elco Auctions company. Jennings’ company will be auctioning off the building and all of its contents during a live “no reserve” auction.
“It’s all for the community; and that's one reason they're selling the church the way they are. They feel like what will happen is what is supposed to happen and they hope that the church will stay within the community, and get used as it was meant to be,” said Jennings.
As for the remaining members of First United Methodist in Robstown, the disbanded few will continue to pray for the building, and the continued spiritual guidance of the Lord. The congregation has set the date for their final worship service in the Alpha Chapel of the church for June 22. From there, the group will disband, and merge into other area churches.
“This small remnant, I call it a holy remnant, of the Robstown congregation has determined that they are going to give their all for the glory of Christ. It’s in God’s hands, and they’re praying diligently that whomever purchases it will use it for something that’s going to bless the community of Robstown,” continued Pastor LeVine. “We pray that people will join us in our prayer. I just feel this congregation, as small as their numbers are and as old as they are, are so very Christ-centered. They’re just determined to do the right thing, outside of themselves, for the community. I’m really very proud of them.”
The congregation, under the spiritual guidance of Pastor LeVine, has been using a certain passage from Scripture: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under Heaven,” 3:1 Ecclesiastes.
The pastor concluded, “Even churches have a lifespan, that is to say, that as Christians – even if it feels like they are facing death right now, we believe in resurrection. That’s what we’re praying for this church; that there will be a resurrection and it will be something for this community.”
The live auction will be held on Saturday, Apr. 5 at the church grounds at 107 North 4th Street, Robstown from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit elcoauctions.com.