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GOD & TEXAS: Addison, Texas

The bustling township of Addison, Texas, is a sparkling jewel in the Platinum Corridor of Dallas County. Due to its many businesses, Addison boasts a daytime population of over 150,000 people, but only 17,000 residents.

With few churches, Addison has over 170 restaurants, 25 hotels, and a booming general aviation airport that occupies about one-half of the township acreage. Several companies have their corporate headquarters there including Dresser Industries, Wingstop Inc., Mary Kay Cosmetics, and Daske Transportation.

Modern-day Addison sprouts from the Peters Colony, which settled in the area near White Rock Creek in the early 1800’s. Pioneers Preston and Pleasant Witt built an ox-powered gristmill on White Rock Creek in 1849, which was located near what is now Prestonwood Country Club. The community was first called Noell Junction, after settler Sidney Smith Noell. It was later re-named for Addison Robertson, a local postmaster.

In 1844, freed slaves built a log chapel for church services along White Rock Creek. When their facility was destroyed by flooding, wealthy landowner Noell donated two acres on higher ground for them to own. Noell admired this little congregation and often attended their services.

Since their modest beginning 179 years ago, White Rock Chapel has survived storms and arsonists. In 2000, the Texas Historical Commission designated the church’s location as a historic site and erected historical marker #11840.

But its very existence is imperiled. When the White Rock Chapel applied for special use permits to renovate the church, the surrounding upscale community complained. The City Council refused to issue the permits, effectively quashing congregants' ability to worship in their sanctuary. First Liberty Institute and McDermott Will and Emery LLP is now defending the church.

Historic churches are threatened across Texas. In 2023, the 100+ year old St. James C.M.E. church in Tyler was torn down, as was the 111 year old Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Houston. Recently the 171 year old Trinity United Methodist church in Llano County became a wedding venue, and the 127 year old First Baptist Church of Rosenberg faces a grim future.

Furthermore, where the steeple was once revered, it is often opposed or ignored in many communities. When a planning and zoning commission refuses to grant building or renovation permits to churches, they often cite traffic, lighting, and environmental concerns. Occasionally, the authorities will oppose what they call “non-inclusive” teachings of a church. But most simply oppose removing church land from tax rolls.

The spiritual future of Texas shivers in the wake of the COVID pandemic. Churches are struggling to survive and concerned parishioners need to act. The best answer is a Heaven-sent revival of righteousness and holiness that stirs people to commitment and faithfulness to the Lord. We need strong churches that influence community decisions, upgrade lifestyles, and boldly proclaim the Gospel.

As Matthew 10:25 (Living Bible) states, “Let us not neglect our church meetings, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the Day of His coming back again is drawing near.”

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