Port Arthur church celebrates Easter Sunday without power after fire; rebuild begins

Published 12:36 am Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Three days after a fire damaged Victory Christian Church, the congregation opened the windows and doors and used a battery-powered PA system and Bluetooth to bring the music and message of Easter Sunday.

“What I reminded folks is that the church is not the building but the people. It’s wherever you are. It just so happens the place we meet had a little bit of a set back,” Rev. Kelvin Solco said when discussing how the church was able to have Easter Sunday services in a building with no electricity.

He describes his congregation as small but resilient, and that was obvious with volunteers coming forward to secure and patch the building.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

With the damage centralized over the fellowship hall roof, the sanctuary was pretty much intact. Some of the men from the church came in, pulled out trash and made temporary repairs on the interior. They cleared the hallways to make them passable and made it possible to hold the service Sunday.

Authorities believe the church, located at 5101 6th St., may have been struck by lightning, which led to a fire early Friday. The fire was mostly contained to the attic of the building, Port Arthur Fire Chief Greg Benson said.

Solco said two contractors have stopped by the church, and the search is on to get roof repairs done. He also has an electrician working with the church. He would like to get the repairs done as quickly as possible.

“Everybody is proud of the fact this incident did not stop us or prevent us from having church. Everybody was happy to come and participate,” Solco said. “Even though it was a little cool, they grabbed sweaters and jackets. Everybody was so supportive but we still have a ways to go.”

Typically the church has approximately 25 worshipers at a service; the approximate number was near 60 on Sunday.

Victory Christian Church has been through a number of trials through the years. In April 2007 the Lakeview area church was defaced by graffiti. Afterward congregation members tried to paint over the symbols and words, some of which were vulgar.

The church was struck again with graffiti in October 2009. Then in 2017, it took 18 inches of water in the Fellowship Hall from Hurricane Harvey.

Solco said they would continue doing what they’re doing — take a few dollars here and there and make repairs.

“We’re a very resilient church, small but resilient,” Solco said.