Now that the sale of Port Arthur’s First Baptist Church to H-E-B. is complete, members are planning their next move — one made possible by another church’s generosity.
Starting Jan. 5, First Baptist Church members will share space with Procter Street Baptist Church. Both congregations will worship in the same building, but at different times.
“Words cannot express how grateful we are. We were in search of a place to meet until we have a new building, and they were gracious enough to offer space,” the Rev. Kyle Morton, First Baptist Church pastor, said.
The two congregations are not planning to merge, but will share the Procter Street building on Jimmy Johnson Boulevard until First Baptist builds its new church.
First Baptist’s existing building at the intersection of Gulfway and Jefferson drives will be torn down to make way for a new H-E-B store at 5000 Gulfway Drive.
Cyndy Garza-Roberts, H-E-B. director of communications, said the supemarket chain plans to construct a new building, about 52,000 sq. feet, on the 6.531 acre-site.
A new Gulfway Drive H-E-B would be the third in Port Arthur. The largest, at 4800 FM 365, was the most recently expanded. The supermarket acquired space that had housed Hollywood Video to add another 28,000 square feet, increasing the size from 54,000 square feet to 82,000 square feet.
Other locations include smaller stores at 3401 Gulfway Drive, Port Arthur, and another at 5000 32nd S., in Groves.
Garza-Roberts said H-E-B officials have not yet decided whether to close existing H-E-B stores, but would make that determination sometime in the coming year.
“There are a number of logistics we have to look at. We will be looking at it in 2014,” Garza-Roberts said.
While H-E-B is planning a new building, so are First Baptist Church members.
H.E-B is expected to take possession of the building on Feb. 1, after church members have moved out of their longtime home.
“Throughout the process, H-E-B could not have been any nicer or accomodate or gracious to us,” Morton said.
Once the Procter Street Church offered to share its building, the two congregations met in an open house event.
“We felt like that was where God was leading us,” Morton said.
First Baptist is in the early stages of finding a permanent location, not having purchased land yet, or determined what part of the city to relocate.
Unitl they build, Procter Street is happy to share the church’s space.
“It just seemed like a place where we could assiste them. We have the room available and they have a need,” the Rev. Rick Erwin, pastor of Procter Street Baptist Church, said. “It is a joy that God has given us all this room we have heere, and it can be used by somebody else.”
In preparation, First Baptist Church members are having a relocation sale from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the church. There, small items like china, glassware, floral arrangements will be offered for sale to the public.
On Jan. 17 and 18, First Baptist will have a second relocation sale, this one offering church furniture.