PUMPVILLE, Texas — It’s safe to say that Texas is God’s country. Majestic, beautiful, and full of hard working folks that have a huge love for life. To show thanks for this little thing called life in the Lone Star State, many head to Sunday service to hear the good word over in southwest Texas. Some drive for miles just to get there.
Along the Texas, Mexico border, West of Langtry and in the middle of nowhere you’ll find a road that will take you deeper into the middle of nowhere. Eventually, you’ll come across on old ghost town on the tracks that happens to have a holy calling.
In a part of the state that’s known for being desolate, the Pumpville Baptist Church is the most isolated Iglesia at the edge of the Trans-Pecos. Clyde Bonds, known by his childhood nickname Rick, is the preacher here. He never knows how many people each Sunday will bring but he’ll take all the souls he can get.
“I think the first time I was here the first service was at nine and I thanked the Lord for the nine,” Rick said.
The pews aren’t piled up with people and the lack of air conditioning reminds you of the other option to Heaven but there’s something about the out of the way service that simply strikes the soul.
“We feel God is in this and He has called us to be here,” Rick said.
An empty environment is about all you’ll find in this erstwhile area. Formerly known as Samuels , Pumpville got its new name in 1887 when wells were drilled to supply passing steam trains. Once diesel took over the tracks, the town dried up but not before a church was built.
Martha Sue Hinds plays piano in the hall of worship she grew up in. Her grandfather helped build the church back in the 40’s and Sue left her footprint here all those years ago. While it’s not the Ascension Rock, it’s still means something to Sue. It’s a reminder of how short this little ride called life is and a that this church in the middle of nowhere might not be here forever.
“I’m not going to worry about it,” Martha said. “We’ve lost all our old ones. We’re the young ones and yet we’re the old ones now.”
Pastor Rick does what he can to keep the congregation alive. The Pumpville Baptist Church started a little tradition: Sunday service with a meal.
“Sometimes it’s a little harder now in our day in age to attract people to go to church, especially if they have to drive a little ways. … I have increased my ministry from that Sunday lunch,” Rick said.
Everyone who comes to church is welcome at the table.
“The fellowship is always good,” Rick said. “Around the table they talk about ranch problems or they talk about this thing or that thing.”
While many have their Sunday morning tradition of fried chicken at their favorite mom and pop, BBQ at a buddy’s, or huevos rancheros in a really good Mexican restaurant none of that is really an option here since the nearest restaurants are 60 miles away. The best part about the potluck is it’s not planned.
“Some Sundays it’s all beans. Everybody brings a different kind of bean,” Martha said.
Even if it is only beans, those seeds are doing more than just filling bellies.
“We will definitely feed them,” church member Alton said. “Preacher will feed them the word and we’ll feed them groceries. Can’t beat that.”
So if you happen to find yourself west of Langtry and in the middle of nowhere on a Sunday morning, a stop at the Pumpville Baptist Church will work wonders for your soul and stomach and is well worth a stop on The Texas Bucket list.
“Love God, love your neighbor as yourself and love one another,” Rick said. “And they can experience all of that at Pumpville.”