St. Paul was founded in 1869 by former slaves in the Double Bayou Community of Chambers
County, Texas. These slaves had been freed for several years and needed a place to worship.
They established a Methodist Episcopal Church in Double Bayou.
One of the founders, Martha Mayes Godfrey, who was born a slave in Tennessee around 1812,
was brought to Texas in 1830 by her slave masters, the Mayes’ family. They settled in Double
Bayou. According to the records, after the death of Martha Godfrey’s husband, Zechariah
Godfrey (August 31, 1877), the land for the church and cemetery was donated to the trustees of
St. Paul (May 25, 1878). The trustees at that time were Solomon Gills, Dolph Mayes, George
Rivers, and William Rivers. The cemetery is named in Martha Godrey’s honor.
St. Paul is one of the oldest churches in Chambers County and has served as a vessel of
reconciliation, gathering people to God through Christ Jesus in various ways. From 1882-1888,
the Founders, Solomon Gills and William Rivers, were the first to teach the alphabets and
Church Catechism in the Double Bayou School which was held in St. Paul. The church served
as a school to the community until 1920. It was the center of the community with its many box
suppers, church meetings, and community gatherings for the wholeness of the people. In
December 1982, a historical marker was placed at St. Paul.
Through the years, St. Paul has faced many changes. The name changed from the Methodist
Episcopal Church to the United Methodist Church in 1968. The church membership changed in
1970 from the Gulf Coast Annual Conference to the Texas Annual Conference. In 2006, the
Texas Annual Conference went from having twelve districts to nine districts whereas St. Paul
was redistricted from the Beaumont District to the Southeast District.
The physical building of St. Paul changed through the years. In 1955, an addition was added to
the church. Later that year, the west wing (the Overflow) was added. In the 1970’s, carpet, a
bathroom, air conditioner, and pews were added. In 1995, Brother Ocie Jackson donated one
acre of land for additional parking. In 2002, the pastor’s study, a bathroom, and a computer
room were added.
In 2017, the flood of Hurricane Harvey came upon St. Paul, and destroyed the worship center
and upset the cemetery. But God’s grace covered the congregation with love, people all over
the country reached out to the church and a major restoration of the entire community began.
The cemetery was placed back in order. Essentials brought to the church and stored in
members' barn and homes to be distributed as needed. Many donated their time and vehicles
(cars, trucks, trailers, etc.) to help distribute these essentials. Pastors of various faith groups
and laity that worked with them and the people of the world worked hand in hand in distributing
these essentials and restoring the Double Bayou community and the city of Anahuac with much
love one for another. In 2019, the worship building restoration was completed along with its
furnishings. Homes were restored or being restored. Thanks be to God!
In the year 2020, COVID 19 became a world’s threat to the existence of human beings. To
reduce the spread of it, many congregations did not gather to worship on Sunday mornings. St.
Paul was no different. But God prepared us to stand, before the awful day arrived. In 2008, St.
Paul started a monthly newsletter and established a website, (www.stpauldoublebayou.com)
under the guidance of Danita Lewis, a descendant of Solomon Gills. The website enabled us to
stay informed. We had people who helped us to worship online. We had people to help us set
up online giving. We had people deliver food and necessities to the doorstep of the aged, the
sick and shut in, and to those whose income were no more. We had early devotion by text
every morning before the pandemic and even now. In 2021, the building was opened again for
Sunday morning worship. Praise God! “With God all things are possible.”
In 1968 under the leadership of the Reverend L.T. Davis, St. Paul began to celebrate their
coming into existence. It became a tradition to be observed every year.
What the devil meant for evil, God turned it around for our good. St. Paul is an older church in a
new norm. It could have died or some would say it should have died, but the love of God came
shining upon us through so many people, those we knew and those we did not. And through it
all, God kept us.
So...we are here today to thank you, God, for “the spirit of power, and of love, and of sound
mind” in Christ Jesus to spread the Word of God, and serve this community and the world
through the years. What a humbling experience it is everyday. Yes, we have had some good
days. We have had some bad days. We have had some mighty high mountains to climb. But
through it all, God, you have kept us. We say thank you, thank you for it all. The History of St. Paul United Methodist Church