Churchyard Excavator Now Breaking Down Walls Between Sojourn Heights’ Current Home on Aurora and Its Soon-To-Be Sanctuary

Crews are now digging a hole through the middle of the Sojourn Heights church campus off Gostick St., south of Aurora in Sunset Heights. The rendering above looks west across Gostick to show the fenced-off lawn that will eventually grow in place of the demolished building. The new green space is bookended by renovated street-fronting structures and backed by a smaller addition that’s planned on the far west side of the just-over-an-acre church property.

Before the takedown got started yesterday, the complex consisted of 3 buildings that lined Gostick:


The brick structure shown on the far left, near the corner of 25th St. has been vacant since the North Main Baptist Church left it in the 1990s. Sojourn bought it — along with the stone building next to it — in 2017. Three years earlier, the church snatched up its current house of worship on the corner of Aurora from a third religious organization that’s since relocated: the Community Gospel Church.

A new sanctuary with balcony seating is now slated for the empty brick building, while the church’s current prayer space at 608 Aurora will become home to all its children’s religious programs:

North of the new sanctuary, add-ons housing office space and a community hall will go up. The photo below shows where they’ll sit behind the not-yet-renovated building and its soon-to-be yard:

Outside of the Heights, the Sojourn organization also hosts services in the Landmark River Oaks Theatre on W. Gray St., Briargrove Elementary School on San Felipe near Fountain View, and just off Westview Dr. in Spring Branch.

Off-camera to the right, a parking lot fronts what’s now the main building on the corner of Aurora.

Photos: Joe Meppelink (half-demolished building); Sojourn Heights (fully-demolished building, campus before demolition). Rendering and site plan: Sojourn Heights

Prayer Semi-Circle

17 Comment

  • Here come the usual trolls.

  • Wow … all that stone met a cruel death. Why not find someone to salvage it instead …. it can’t be replaced and now lost forever.

  • I liked that demo’d building the best out of the 3!

  • Is it trolling to keep pointing out that churches have been stealing from society by not paying property taxes forever? Even Italy, a staunchly Catholic country started assessing taxes on church properties. Good thing few cities around Texas finally started to stand up to the blatant theft and stopped granting property tax exemptions to new church acquisitions.

  • WR – We understand the sentiment. We couldn’t find a taker for the limestone. I’m not a mason so I’m not sure what turned so many off from it when they came to look at it. I know one flaw is that it was quarried with inconsistent thicknesses throughout which made it not an ideal candidate for paving stones and challenging in vertical applications. We would rather it have been reused, just couldn’t make it happen.

    We were, however, able to salvage most of the steel windows that were in good shape from the building to be repurposed. Hopefully that brings you some good cheer. They’re beautiful windows.

  • Preach, CS, preach!
    Eh, maybe that was a poor choice of words on my part. . .

  • commonsense – you really think churches steal from society? By getting to keep the money that is donated to them? This statement seems backwards to me.
    If you’re upset that a non-profit entity is not paying property taxes, that’s the state’s fault not the church’s. And if you’d like to not ‘steal’ from society yourself, feel free to pay more in taxes.

  • This is great news for Sojourn. Hopefully they can acquire some additional parking so they do not continue to take all the surrounding street parking leaving the residents with no street parking.

  • @CommonSense

    The power to tax implies the power to govern. Religious institutions are exempt from taxation because our government has not been given the power to govern religion. This is an expression of the basic principles behind the founding of this country—that is, there is an Authority above the government that has established rights apart from the government, including free speech and freedom of religion. Since these rights were not created by the government—and, in fact, existed before any government existed—our government is restrained from infringing on these natural rights. There are things that are simply not rightly under any government’s control. To reverse this long-standing practice of tax exemption is to wrongly place the government in authority over religion.

    Now, you may not be a religious person, but I hope you aren’t wanting our government to exercise governmental control over our rights to freedom of religion. If so, what’s next, then? Their right to govern free speech? This only works for you when the government aligns with your worldview… what happens when it doesn’t? Tyranny. That’s what happens.

  • @Freeindeed: I’m not a religious person, but doesn’t the government already control our bodies due to their personal religious beliefs? Regarding abortion and women’s healthcare. These so called “Christians’ are something else! Why is a women’s uterus even brought up in state politics? It is a women’s body.. not the state capitol’s property. Stay classy though..

  • @Freeindeed, nonsense, freedom of religion is a right specifically given by our government, there’s no “above” or “before”, that’s a fallacy, all laws are what the society decides they are. Like prohibition or many other rights and constraints can be amended in our constitution, freedom of religion can be rescinded and in my opinion should. Many people that are victims of fraud are not aware of the fraud and will even defend the fraud, there are still laws against it. Freedom of speech and freedom of religion is false equivalence, one is a universal human trait, the other is an organized enterprise based on falsified premises.

    First step should be to make churches equivalent with non-profits and make them pay property taxes like non-profits do, then we can tackle the whole hidden profit issue (spending profits on continuous self expansion and recruitment).

  • Scott – thanks for your comments …. I myself would have loved to make a stab at saving it. Call me a dreamer, but I personally believe the irregularity of the stones makes it more desirable.

  • Thought this was a blog about real estate. How about that green space! Would love to see inside concept photos.

  • I am not really religious, it doesnt bother me, just isnt for me. But I think if you are going to go after “religions” you shouldnt stop at churches, or Christians. You should persecute all religions equally. And if you are one of those people that target religions based on their tax exempt status, puhleaze educate yourself on the many many tax exempt organizations in this country.

  • The ONLY thing I agree with Commonsense about.

    We are both trolls for Atheism.

    So the rights enumerated in the Constitution were given to us by an “Authority”

    Funny how the Buybull never enumerates any of these. Instead, it tells us that Slavery is A-OK, its fine to rape female virgins who are POWS, etc. But maybe Gawd, er, the Authority, changed his mind between Antiquity and the 18th Century ???

  • Lol a friend sent me this article because I live nearby and told me to be sure to read the comments. They did not disappoint. Kudos to Sojourn for not only improving the neighborhood but also restoring the current buildings and not just dozing the whole lot. I’m sure it will be beautiful upon completion!