Members of the Montalba community will sponsor a gospel and patriotic congregation singing at the historic Montalba Methodist Church, on Saturday, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
“Back during World War II, they would have singings at the courthouse,” said Cricket Lightfoot Andrews, 92.
“People would come from all around to sing. They don’t do that anymore because we don’t have time for the Lord.”
Andrews said the last time she remembers such a singing was the Sunday after Pearl Harbor at the Montalba Baptist Church.
“People were inside. They were outside. They were hanging out the windows,” Andrews said. “When the bombs started falling, people started praying.”
Andrews wants to inspire the young in the community to sing a joyous song unto the Lord.
“There will not be groups singing, just congregational singing,” she said.
A free will offering will be taken during the event; a break for lemonade will take place at about 2:45 p.m.
The group also wants to show off the historic Montalba Church, which has served the community as not only a church, but also a school, events center, and a wedding venue.
In 1912, the current church building was moved from a site known as Pace’s Chapel, about two miles north, to its present location in the center of the Montalba community. The building was moved by logs under the building that were used as rollers. The building was pulled by either oxen or mules.
Later, in the 1960’s, beautiful stained glass windows were purchased from another church and installed by the Montalba Methodist church members.
The Montalba Chapel, formerly the Montalba United Methodist Church, was donated to the Montalba Community Improvement Association in 2007 after the Methodist Conference in Houston decided to close the church. For several years, the church only had two members, Elsie McGee and Harold Strahm.
Additionally, the Austin Family descendants gifted their ownership to the Montalba Community Improvement Association.
Dr. Austin and his wife had originally donated the land for a church or religious purpose, including a clause that the land would revert back to the family when no longer used for that purpose.
After many donations and fund raisers, the Chapel was repaired for use in 2009. The original plan had been to use the chapel as a wedding venue, and perhaps as a community theatre.
The chapel has provided a spot for a few weddings, marriage vow renewals, and entertainment events. The main use, however, has been as a church start-up.
The Chapel is a monument of community-minded people trying to better both their community and their service to God.
For more information, contact Clay Hamil, president of Montalba Community Improvement Association, at 903-549-2384; or Sherrill Poff, 903-731-3350.