My Montrose: Diane McGehee, Bering Memorial Methodist Church
Diane McGehee is the pastor at Bering Memorial Methodist Church in Montrose.
Tell me about Bering Memorial Methodist.
It was originally founded as a German immigrant church. [Germans] weren’t really welcomed in English-speaking churches at the time.
That’s been our DNA since day one: to be a place where everyone was welcome. When yellow fever broke out in the early 1920s, [Bering Memorial] led the city in taking care of that. When the AIDS crisis broke out––that’s how Bering Omega got started, and the dental clinic, was caring for folks who were fighting HIV/AIDS. We welcomed the LGBTQ community when a lot of other churches weren’t doing so. We’ve always stood for diversity. That’s one reason we love being in Montrose: it’s such a rich area of diversity and culture.
What kind of events do you do at Bering Memorial?
We [hosted] a prayer vigil and info session for our immigrant neighbors around DACA. We wanted to stand in solidarity with that community, and to advocate immigration reform. Advocacy on behalf of marginalized people and social justice are key things for this congregation.
We also do fun stuff, [like] a blessing of the animals. We are going to have a fall festival on the 29th of October, celebrating that everybody belongs no matter who you are. There will be games for kids, costumes; it’s an opportunity for the community to come out and participate.
Has the church been doing any work in the wake of Hurricane Harvey?
Yes! We have been sending teams to gut houses. We got a call after Harvey hit from the Orange, TX, on Labor Day. I said, “Well if we can get there,” and I put a call out to our folks. We had two truckloads full of water, diapers, food, cleaning supplies––we made our way to Orange on roads that were still hard to get around on. And we are still doing that about once per week.
We also have a ministry called Second Blessings where we go out and buy furniture from estate sales to offer to the community at discounted prices. We are putting in place a voucher system for people who need furniture as a result of Harvey [so they] can come and find things.
Do you get a lot of people from the neighborhood?
Montrose used to be the only safe place to live if you were LGBTQ, and that’s not true anymore. So a lot of our original congregation comes from all over the city now, but we also have a lot of people that come from the Montrose area.
Do you have any favorite coffeeshops or restaurants in Montrose?
I love Café Brasil. And Pistolero’s, which is right around the corner on Westheimer. I took some folks the other day to La Fendee across the way. And Baba Yega––we go there a lot.