ANSON, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Since 1947, travelers along Highway 277 have passed the bright red letters which read ‘JESUS SAVES.’ The neon sign shines out the message at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, between Anson and Hawley. The landlocked lighthouse has become a local landmark in its own right, but nobody has been able to see the message for some time.
“Living around here, that’s been a landmark for as long as I can remember,” said Jones County Sheriff Danny Jimenez.
Sheriff Jimenez told KTAB/KRBC that since the sign is on 24/7, it works well as a reference point for first responders in that part of the county. Radio calls often informed responders to head north, south, east or west of “Jesus Saves.”
Pleasant Grove’s pastor, Jeffery Fenwick said the high level of local familiarity would make the man who installed the sign proud.
“He just said the Holy Spirit told him to get the word of Jesus out there,” Pastor Fenwick recalled, “that [way] everybody could see it.”
Scott W. Hickey was the church’s first pastor in 1947. Fenwick said the sign was Pastor Hickey’s passion project, though his congregation didn’t quite share his fanaticism.
“Because, back in the 40s and the 50s, neon was associated more with bars and drinking, and honky-tonks,” Pastor Fenwick explained.
But Hickey won out, getting the sign paid for and installed on the front of the church, where its lights have shone ever since. As for those negative connotations his congregation feared, they turned out to work in their favor.
“There’s a group called Two Days Later. They had wrote a song about a neon light,” Pastor Fenwick said. “They called me and told me it was about our sign.”
The song tells a purportedly true story of a man out drinking, looking for a place to have a good time. The story goes, he saw the neon sign and mistook the church for a bar.
“Before you know it, he got saved and went on his way,” Pastor Fenwick shared.
Unfortunately, this roadside testimonial has been down for the past two weeks. With the church’s regular company backlogged with work, this two-week spell has become the longest period of time the light has been dark in the 75 years since it’s existed.
“The wind blew something and broke one of the bulbs,” Pastor Fenwick told KTAB/KRBC. “It’s one of the oldest ones still shining in the state.”
Pastor Fenwick said the Day Sign company should be able to get to them in about three weeks to repair the vintage neon. Once it’s up, he said there are no plans to take it down anytime soon.
“When the good lord comes and gets us it’s gonna be up there,” Pastor Fenwick assured.