Revered pastor returns to Mosier Valley church for celebration

Posted Friday, Jun. 28, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
If you go The Rev. Lloyd G. Austin will preach at 10:45 a.m. Sunday at St. John Missionary Baptist Church, 3324 House Anderson Road, Fort Worth.

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The Rev. Lloyd G. Austin, a retired minister and civil-rights icon, will return to preach at St. John Missionary Baptist Church in Mosier Valley on Sunday and help celebrate the final payment on a $184,000 loan that helped the church expand.

“I will be preaching on togetherness,” Austin said. “The Lord already gave me that topic. You can do a whole lot of things when you are together.”

Austin, 89, retired from St. John’s in 2005, but his influence still shines brightly at the church, founded in a log cabin 139 years ago by former slaves.

“I’m standing on his shoulders,” said the Rev. Sean A. Taylor, 40, the pastor for the last four years.

“Rev. Austin started the building of our Christian education center and fellowship hall in 1993,” said Taylor, a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary.

While honored as a church leader, Austin is also a symbol for many African-Americans who sought to better their lives in Fort Worth starting in the 1950s.

“People were tired of living like they were living,” Austin said. “All we wanted to do was have a nice place to live.”

Racial tension in Riverside

When Austin and his late wife, Macie, and their young daughter, Georgina, became the second family to move into a formerly all-white Riverside neighborhood in 1956, it caused an uproar.

“In front of my house was a tree, and they hanged an effigy on it,” Austin said. “It was black like me. It was hanging by a rope.”

White protesters carrying signs and hurling racial epithets also filled the street in front of his house at 2009 Judkins St.

“I called police and told them I needed help,” Austin said. “They asked if anybody was hurt. I said, ‘Not yet’ and they didn’t come out.”

As the crowd grew, Austin told his wife, “I’m going to do something I don’t want to do.”

He fired a .22-caliber rifle out his window, hitting a car but hurting no one.

Police came and broke up the crowd.

“We didn’t have any trouble after that,” he said. “We stayed in that house until the freeway came through and took up the land.”

‘He never stopped preaching’

Although his preaching career was focused on Mosier Valley, Austin is also remembered as a community leader in what was known as the Rock Island Bottoms near downtown Fort Worth.

“He raised a lot of us down in the Bottoms,” said Sarah Walker, president of the Tarrant County Black Historical and Genealogical Society.

Another resident of the Bottoms during that time, Claudine Daniels Coleman, who is a member of the Mosier Valley church, said Austin taught young people about life.

“He would always tell us to learn to live within your means,” Coleman said. “He was just an unusual man. He was a man after God’s own heart, who loved people. But he loved to discipline, no matter who you were or what age you were.”

When a woman chewed gum during his sermon, Austin walked out of the pulpit and put a book in front of her mouth to put her gum on.

“Then he turned around and walked back to the pulpit,” Coleman said. “He never stopped preaching.”

Austin was born in Hugo, Okla., and his family moved to Fort Worth when he was 8. He was one of 11 children.

“We lived in a little three-room house,” Austin said. “We slept on the floor on pallets we made from quilts.”

“We did what we could to help the family,” he said. “Us kids would go down to the public market on Jones Street. I would sit on a man’s truck loaded with apples, guarding it so people wouldn’t steal from him. He would give me dime.”

He would also buy meat bones from Superior Meat Co. for a nickel.

“There was still some meat on them and you could make soup from them,” he said. “Poor as we was, soup was good.”

Austin grew up in the old Fourth Street Baptist Church and was led into the ministry by its pastor, the Rev. John Franklin Singleton. After Austin was ordained, he became pastor of a church in Sanger and was called to be St. John’s pastor in 1964.

‘We have great opportunities’

During much of that time, he was a truck driver, hauling feed to towns in Texas for the Blue Tag Feed Co. He later worked for 24 years in shipping and receiving for the Fort Worth branch of National Cash Register.

“When I retired at age 65, the salesmen at National Cash got up the money and sent my wife and I to Haiti for a week,” he said. “It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.”

Austin said race relations have advanced greatly since the days when people tried to run him out of Riverside.

“We have great opportunities, but the only thing is the black race is not accepting it well,” Austin said. “We’ve fought through some bad times. Now you can live anywhere if you have the money. We can get a good education.

“But it shouldn’t stop there. The educated should reach down and help the fallen. Too many of our young people also are making great mistakes because of drugs.”

Austin said the election of President Barack Obama is but one example that times have changed.

“All through my ministry I’ve been crying for us people of America to live together, have things together, and share,” he said. “Together we stand. Divided we fall.”

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