H.R. No. 2627
         WHEREAS, The members of Bethlehem African Methodist
  Episcopal Church in Old Ocean are celebrating the 150th anniversary
  of their church's founding on June 11, 2017; and
         WHEREAS, This historic institution traces its roots back to
  the end of the American Civil War when, shortly after news of the
  Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Lincoln arrived in
  Texas, five former slaves, Abraham Kennedy, Calvin Parks, Saul
  Harris, Charlie Lee, and Charles Allison, purchased a 600-acre
  tract of land in the Chances Prairie community on which to build
  homes for their families; and
         WHEREAS, Looking ahead, the men also reserved an acre of this
  tract as a future church site, and in 1867, the first church, a log
  building, was erected on the property; under the guidance of its
  inaugural pastor, Father Hayward, the church aligned with the AME
  denomination in 1880, and it later merged with Brazoria and Cedar
  Break churches; and
         WHEREAS, In 1916, the original edifice was destroyed by a
  storm, but members soon banded together to fund a new sanctuary
  constructed by E. O. Viola; that facility housed the congregation
  until 1940, when the Reverend E. A. Thomas successfully spearheaded
  an effort to purchase and build the present-day building; and
         WHEREAS, Over the years, Bethlehem AME has benefited from the
  able leadership of many dedicated clergymen, and that tradition of
  service is continued today by the Reverend Fred P. Blair Jr., who
  assumed the pulpit in 2010; the church has long played a vital role
  in the community through numerous ministries and outreach programs,
  including its annual Trustee Rally and Memorial Day celebration;
         WHEREAS, For the past century and a half, Bethlehem AME
  Church has served as a source of inspiration and guidance to those
  who worship there, and its continued existence is a testament to the
  unwavering commitment of its members and clergy, both past and
  present; now, therefore, be it
         RESOLVED, That the House of Representatives of the 85th Texas
  Legislature hereby commemorate the sesquicentennial of Bethlehem
  African Methodist Episcopal Church and extend to the congregation
  sincere best wishes for many more years of shared prayer and
  fellowship; and, be it further
         RESOLVED, That an official copy of this resolution be
  prepared for the church as an expression of high regard by the Texas
  House of Representatives.
  Bonnen of Brazoria
  Speaker of the House     
         I certify that H.R. No. 2627 was adopted by the House on May
  28, 2017, by a non-record vote.
  Chief Clerk of the House