The Church Near Altair

The Painted Churches of Texas are high on my list of favorite road trip destinations. Several of the best examples of these historic structures are clustered in the vicinity of Schulenburg. These churches represent some of the very best examples of German and Czech architecture in the Lone Star State. They have survived because of the loving concern of their respective congregations.
South Point Baptist ChurchEvery now and then I come across abandoned churches on my road trips — structures that are falling apart because they no longer have anyone to maintain them. One such structure is located along Highway 71 south of the tiny community of Altair. When I first drove past the old building with the wide-open doors, I had to turn around to check things out for myself.
South Point CornerstoneThe first thing I noticed was the cornerstone, indicating that this now-abandoned building was once home to Southpoint Baptist Church. According to the cornerstone, Southpoint was organized in 1883, the same year that the University of Texas opened its doors in Austin for its inaugural session.
South Point InteriorInside, the building was filled with jumbles of junk — odds and ends no longer of any use. A few remaining seats, some preschool furniture in a side room, an old podium, and some Sunday School quarterlies scattered among the debris. The oldest quarterly I found was dated 1926 and the latest was dated 2010.
South Point VersesYou can’t walk into an old building like this without letting your imagination off its leash. Mine certainly ran wild in this old place. I wondered about the folks who put on their Sunday best and made their way to this location through the years — walking, on horseback, perhaps carriages, and later in automobiles.
South Point QuarterlyLooking toward the now-silent pulpit, I wondered about the sermons preached in this place. What had those who stood behind the pulpit shared to comfort the flock, especially during the dark days of two world wars? How much hope was dispensed here and who had left this place determined make the world a better place?
South Point Offering EnvelopeJust before I walked out the doors, I noticed an offering envelope among the decaying dandruff of this old building. The name of the giver was scrawled in cursive letters across the face of the envelope along with the amount he had given. Offerings like this are what kept the building in repair and likely met needs beyond the modest little corner lot on which the church is situated.
South Point Side ViewThe church building now sits empty and is slowly being reclaimed by moth and rust and decay. It is no longer a destination for worshipers, only a curiosity to those who travel down Highway 71. In reality, the only thing of value that remains is what the folks who worshiped here did to live out their faith in their community.
South Point ClockI’m glad I pulled over to explore the old building. The clock has now stopped ticking on the life of this old church that survived more than a hundred years of Texas history. I hope that someone who attended took the time to record at least some of the history of this old church. I, for one, would love to know more about Southpoint — and other places like this tucked away on Texas back roads.

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