For 57 years, the Rev. John Johnson and his small church on East Baltimore Boulevard have been assisting those in need.
Over the years the building that houses the Greater Progressive Church of God in Christ has deteriorated, so much, in fact, that the church couldn’t afford to pay for repairs.
That’s when volunteers with the North Texas Roofing Contractors Association stepped up to replace the church’s leaky, worn-out roof.
“This is the largest community service project NTRCA has undertaken in years,” said Karen Vermaire Fox, the group’s executive director. “It’s important to us that we help this church rebuild in time for them to hold leak-free, worry-free Christmas services this year.”
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Johnson was overcome with gratitude.
“I call this a special Christmas miracle,” he said.
Johnson, 91, said the new roof gives him and his congregation a fresh start and reinforces their faith in God.
“This is the first work we’ve done on it,” Johnson said of the church’s roof. “This will help people feel better. There will be more people here than ever before.”
He said the congregation has dwindled in size over the years. Life has been hard on Johnson as well.
‘Hard to feed myself’
Four years ago, his wife, Alma, who was bedridden and suffered from breast cancer, died after a fire tore through their home in southwest Fort Worth.
After his wife’s death, Johnson suffered a stroke, which made it more difficult for him to get around.
Through it all, Johnson never lost sight of his calling, which came in the late 1950s, when Fort Worth had a population of 350,000 and Interstate 30 was known as the Dallas-Fort Worth Turnpike.
He recalled that while working at a furniture company, he kept hearing a voice telling him to preach the Gospel.
“My boss said it would be hard to feed myself,” he said.
Instead, Johnson and his wife focused on sharing the word of God and taking care of others, including the delivery of groceries to the needy at Christmas.
Johnson said on Sunday, Christmas Day, he will reflect on the birth of Jesus and the hope that it continues to bring the world.
And he will be sure to mention the new roof as well, giving thanks to the volunteers who made it possible.
‘A lot to be done here’
Holly Green, in-coming president of the North Texas Roofing Contractors Association, said the pastor’s granddaughter and an elder from the church contacted the organization and asked if the contractors would consider taking on helping the church as a volunteer project.
Green said the North Texas Roofing Contractors Association does volunteer projects throughout North Texas, including the Women’s Center in Fort Worth.
“When I saw the roof, I thought, ‘Oh, my goodness there is a lot to be done here,’ ” Green said.
Green and another association member, Dan Pitts, recruited other roofers and companies, including Wholesale Roofing Supply, which donated materials.
Church elder Myron Bridges said when he saw firsthand the condition of the roof, he knew he had to find help. Bridges said holes were visible in the roof, ceilings were falling apart and rain had damaged the church’s sound system.
“I was determined to help this man of God who has served the community for over 50 years. That was my mission,” Bridges said. “What the North Texas Roofing Contractors have done for us is a game changer.”
This article contains material from he Star-Telegram archives.