A big birthday for one East Texas church today, a church that had very humble beginnings. It was the 139th anniversary of the first African-American church in Longview, Saint Mark's Christian Methodist Episcopal.
The church started as a shack by freed slaves in 1867. Five generations of families have built the church into one of the most recognized in Longview. Mayor Jay Dean was on hand for the celebration and to proclaim the day as Sidney Bell Willis day, in honor of the councilwoman and long-time church member.