Men's Breakfast Report, February 2013
The Men’s Breakfast Group met Saturday, February 9 with Gene Grear, pastor of Bethel Baptist Church. Gen e was born in Galveston but moved to Freeport as a teenager when his mother married Mr. Lewis. Mr. Lewis was owner of Lewis’s Barbeque, which several members of the group regarded as one of three real barbeque restaurants in the city. Lewis taught Gene how to work and that it was important to do a job right. Gene did many of the jobs in the restaurant, except that he did not chop wood. Gene is married and has three children.
Although Gene attended Bethel Baptist Church as a young man, he was not a born-again Christian. One night while he was driving back from Houston after a day of carousing, he heard a voice saying “You are dead”. This was disturbing since he was the only one in the car and the radio was off. A few minutes later he heard the voice again say “You are dead”. He then decided to be born again, and participate fully in the church. A couple of years later he decided to study for the ministry. Later, the minister of Bethel Baptist Church accepted a call to a church in California and nominated Gene to replace him. To Gene’s surprise the congregation immediately accepted him as their new pastor. Gene worked at Dow for several years and was a bi-vocational minister after his call. He retired from Dow in 2005 and has been a full time pastor since then.
Bethel Baptist Church traces its history back 150 years and is one of the oldest churches in the county. This is especially remarkable since it is a primarily black church and the origin is before emancipation. The church has about eighty members. The congregation is primarily black but does include white and Hispanic members. The neighborhood has become primarily Hispanic, so pastor Grear believes that his evangelism will have to be more to his Hispanic neighbors.
The church does not do much in the way of community service. However, it is a member of an association headed by a Bishop. The association does do community outreach. One of the association’s ministries is to help rehabilitate felons. Gene said that once a felon has served his time he should be able to return to society. There are many restrictions on ex-felons that make it difficult to rejoin society. Many jobs are closed to them and even many apartments will not rent to them. He said that Dow used to have a program where some ex-felons could get jobs, but that this is no longer active.
As usual, the men had an interesting discussion and a good breakfast. The next meeting will be March 9th.