Texas A&M Professor on a Sacred Mission for the State

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Built in the late 19th century, St. Paul Lutheran Church in Serbin, Texas, which located just outside Giddings, has been able to give descendants of the Wends a direct glimpse into their family lineage.

"It provides continuity with the past for these people," said Jack Wiederhold, the church's Music Director. " When you walk in here you feel like it's always been here and you can just feel the attachment to those people who came on the ship."

Wiederhold, who is know as the St. Paul's member historian, says visitors from St. Paul's sister churches in East Germany had the same reaction he had when visited their churches.

"I visited them in 1989 and I was awed. I told them, what we have looks like what you have," Wierderhold said. "And I'm not sure they actually believed that until they walked in here in 1995 and saw it, and their jaws just kind of dropped."

Texas A&M Architecture Professor Anat Geva says distinct characteristics of the Wends culture are evident throughout the church.

"The gallery on top of the church and the color inside the building is very blue, turquoise to resemble heaven and to make the building feel lighter," revealed Geva.

Geva shares, that in light of the new trend of what some call the huge, "highway churches", historic architectural styles from centuries past need to be saved.

"Many believe that we have forgotten about the traditional small, humble churches and we are going to these mega structures," Geva said.

So, saving churches and other places of worship throughout the state is what Geva and other members of the Texas Sacred Places Project have set out to do.

"To help the community find the right resources, professionals to do the work as well as to maintain the historic integrity of these buildings," Geva said.

The project's objective is to identify and create a database of religious places in Texas that illustrate the historical origins and adaptations of the immigrants who built them for educational and instructional purposes.

Geva says save these churches and we save pieces of Texas and its people's heritage.

"Architecture is an expression of a culture," Geva said. "Architecture is an expression of the faith."

On January 10, Texas A&M University will host a conference for members of the Texas Sacred Places Project as they discuss further the eligibility criteria of churches that will be included in the statewide database.