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Jun 24, 2013 | Luke Blount

Texas City Congregation Celebrates a Century of Fellowship

St george
St george
St george
St george
St george


St. George’s, Texas City, will celebrate 100 years of fellowship on June 28 with a barbeque dinner and special worship service with the Rt. Rev. Jeff Fisher, Bishop Suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas. Over the course of a century, St. George’s has proved to be a resilient, welcoming and hospitable community in the heart of Texas City.


In early 1913, several Episcopalians began gathering for services at family homes with the help of the Rev. C. W. Freeland, a U.S. Army chaplain stationed in Texas City during a period of heightened tensions with Mexico. Soon, the gathering was named St. George’s, a declared mission of the Diocese.


By 1915, much of the military presence left Texas City, and the church purchased one of the barracks to use as a chapel. That summer, the 1915 hurricane damaged their new home, the first of several disasters that the Episcopal community would overcome.


After a period of meeting in an old storefront in the early 1920s, St. George’s built its first building on 10th Avenue. The parish grew along with Texas City over the next 20 years before reaching parish status (self-sufficiency from the Diocese) in 1940.


One of the most memorable moments in the history of St. George’s and Texas City occurred in 1947. Just a few weeks after arriving as the new rector, the Rev. Frank Doremus was thrown across the home of a parishioner on the morning of April 16 when a French ship exploded in the deadliest industrial accident in U.S. history. The SS Grandcamp was loaded with thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, an extremely potent explosive of the same kind that recently wreaked havoc in West, Texas. At least 581 people were killed in Texas City, including 13 of the 65 male members from St. George’s according to a 1990 interview with Doremus.


Texas City Mayor Curtis Trahan, a member of St. George’s, asked Doremus to organize a burial service for the 63 unidentified dead. Doremus tried to purchase land for the burial, but was turned away by landowners who did not want African-Americans and Whites to be buried together. After much searching, Doremus purchased land with money from the Texas City Relief Fund and led a moving interfaith, multi-racial burial service just outside the city limits on June 22, 1947.


St. George’s community has exhibited this same perseverance, honor and hospitality throughout their history. Despite five damaging hurricanes, the 1947 explosion, and a fire that destroyed the church in 1983, the congregation of St. George’s has always found a way to rebuild, proudly standing to serve the community of Texas City. 


Eleanor Wuthrich grew up at St. George’s in the 1940s and her grandmother, Julianna Moore, was a founding member of the congregation. “The church building isn’t the same, but as far as the people are concerned, this place feels like home,” she said.


Today, St. George’s contributes to Texas City in many ways, cooking meals for the homeless with the Mainland Street Ministries and hosting the Kids Cooking Club once a month. The Rev. Robin Reeves joined St. George’s as rector in 2012. Her vision is for the church to be an even larger part of the community.


“My hope is to be a neighborhood gathering place and resource for the community,” Reeves said. “We want to be good neighbors, and we welcome everyone who may want to join us.”


Kent Ross is a lifelong Episcopalian, and his mother played the church organ for 50 years. “St. George’s congregation feels like a family,” he said. “When we get together, it feels like a family reunion every week. St. George’s is a caring, friendly congregation that doesn’t ostracize any visitors. We try to make everyone feel comfortable.”


Don Pollock joined the church after moving from Hawaii. “I like to think that this group performs random acts of senseless kindness,” he said. “It has the aloha and love. It has what we call ‘the good feel’ in Hawaii.”


St. George’s will host a barbecue dinner June 29, beginning with a 4 p.m. worship service. Please RSVP to 409.945.2583 or visit if you would like to attend.