CYPRESS, Texas - It was an open air service Sunday morning in the parking lot of Christ United Church, but one that was never on the calendar.

“I cried through the whole thing,” said Janet Hicks, who attended the service. “It’s amazing, and it’s sad, and it’s heartbreaking.”

The first Sunday service after the first flood in the church’s nearly 100-year history was an emotional hour for many of the members filling the folding chairs and rocking chairs.

“We went somewhere for the weekend, and we drove in just for this,” said Mary Aragon, the daughter- in-law of Rev. F.J. Aragon.

He has served as the church’s pastor for 37 years. “We just had our anniversary here, and we were married here, so it was really kind of bittersweet.”

Some members, like Roy Jenkins, showed up even while still dealing with flood damage in their own homes.
“That’s what we’re about,” said Jenkins. “Keeping on.”

Church members spread the word about the service through email, Facebook, and even handwritten plywood signs along Telge Road, but they were only expecting a handful of people to attend.

Instead, several dozen showed up Sunday morning.

“I am overwhelmed,” said Rev. Jeffrey Willey. “The word for me this week is overwhelmed.”

Now Rev. Willey is working to replace countless uninsured items lost inside a church where generations of families have marked life’s milestones.

He says the water infiltrated every room in the building and it was anywhere from a few inches deep to three feet high in some areas.

However, he’s grateful for what they could save, like the imprint of Rev. Aragon’s footsteps in the pulpit, along with the church’s bell.

The pastor says he’s also grateful for the cleanup help from people of all ages and from far beyond Cypress.

“I like helping people,” said ten-year-old Brenden Green, a local Boy Scout who volunteered with the effort. “It just makes me feel really good in my heart.”

“Thank you very, very much from the bottom of our hearts,” said Rev. Willey.

Rev. Willey says an account has been set up at Regions Bank to help with the rebuilding effort, along with a GoFundMe page.

People gather for Sunday service in the parking lot of Christ United Church in Cypress, Texas on April 24, 2016.
People gather for Sunday service in the parking lot of Christ United Church in Cypress, Texas on April 24, 2016.