A church from the past built in McLewis
If you find yourself traveling north on FM 1442, towards Mauriceville, be sure to watch the left hand side of the road and you’ll see a church building that looks like it jumped out of the 19th century.
The McLewis Church of Christ built a brand new building that resembles the New England style churches from back in the day.
“We chose this style because we wanted it to look like a church,” said Freddy Shores, the eldest teacher and member of the church. “You see so many churches today and unless they have a name on it, you wouldn’t know that it was a church. This [building] doesn’t have a name on it, but nobody could drive by and mistake it for anything but a church.”
The original 18 members started meeting in 1981 and would rent two small places in Orange to worship in. They moved their worship services to Shores’ house so they could save up funds to build their own church building.
In 1983, they built a church on Glenwood Drive off FM 1442, just down the road from the new building. They expanded the building once but they were unable to further accommodate their growing numbers. Shores doesn’t live in the area anymore. He moved to Newton when he retired so he could tend to his cattle but he travels down here twice a week to attend services.
“We have grown out of that building,” Shores said. “We have 50 to 60 members and we are just busting at the seams.”
Five years ago, the church bought the land and they started construction in late August of 2010. Durcon LLC, owned by Richard Durkin, was the general contractor and handled the construction of the main structure. The church members, and their friends and family, handled the small things.
“We have a fella, Brookshire Tanna that is doing a lot of work for us,” Shores said. “He’s not a member of the church (he’s the father of a current member), but he is a really good guy and I would say a great friend to the church. He has worked an untold amount of hours. He did all the finish work.”
The pews in the new church were bought from a Baptist Church in Central, Ill. that had shut its doors.
“I got on the internet a couple of weeks ago and found these pews,” Shores said. “They were on a used pew site. They are solid oak and built in 1943 by the J.J. Pennington Pew Company. We drove up there with my big ol’ long trailer and hauled them back. It took us 28 hours to go [there], get them and come back. It has been a blessing to us and these pews are in just as good a shape as they told us they would be.”
Tanna is building another pew for us because they only have 19 and they would like an even 20.
The upstairs loft can be used for additional seating or for choir singers during a wedding.
There aren’t any bible classes prior to worship, so there aren’t any additional rooms besides the cry room for parents with babies.
The Church of Christ is strictly a cappella, meaning they do not have instruments in their church. McLewis COC has several different teachers rather than one individual preacher.
The church doesn’t have a baptistry yet, but in the event that someone wants to be baptized, they will use a members’ swimming pool or just go down to the creek. When it gets cold, local churches graciously offer their baptistries.
Those interested in attending this friendly little church can do so on Sundays at 10 a.m. and on Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. Their physical address is 15497 FM 1442, two miles north of I-10.