Tommy Mann Jr.
The Orange Leader
Five long years after Hurricane Ike devastated Gateway Christian Church, the church family has finally found a new home.
Gateway Christian Church and its pastor, Rev. Larry Phillips, have finally acquired a new site to be the permanent location. The congregation has been without a permanent church facility since Hurricane Ike’s storm surge decimated Orange County, including the east side of Orange.
“Our church had more than four feet of water inside it, which damaged everything, and it busted the slab,” Phillips said. “It totally destroyed the building. It was just something that we, like so many others, thought would never happen.”
Phillips and his congregation moved to what they thought would be a temporary location in a meeting room of a local hotel. However, this site would serve as the congregation’s sanctuary several times over the five year period.
“We were at the hotel for a year, and then we moved a place on 10th Street only to move back to the hotel,” Phillips added. “Then we moved to Green Avenue before coming back to the hotel. We finally acquired this property on John Street and are so happy to have a place to call our own.”
Phillips said relocating from location to location was a hard thing for him and his church family to do, but the hardest part has been the loss of congregation members.
“Our members were scattered because of the hurricane,” he explained. “Some of them came back and some didn’t. Moving around so much didn’t help. Some people found other places to go. We had 75 members before the storm, and we are now down to just 15.”
Phillips said the goal is to incorporate the church into the neighborhood and surrounding community and rebuild the congregation of Gateway Christian Church.
To celebrate its new building, Gateway Christian Church will hold a week-long revival starting at 7 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 5, and continuing nightly through Friday, Jan. 10. The celebration will culminate with a dedication ceremony at 4 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 12 delivered by Apostle Jesse Harden of Power Praise Church.
“We really want to be involved with the community,” Phillips said. “We do a block prayer on the first and third Saturday of each month, where we go out into the community and the spread the word of God and try to win souls. And, in the process, we want to rebuild our church.”
The public is invited to attend the revival and the church dedication.