(ROCKWALL/HEATH, TX – May 12, 2015) This good news just in: my church – the First United Methodist Church of Heath – celebrated its 125th birthday on Sunday, April 19! 125 years…to think that I’ve only been around on this Earth for less than a quarter of that length of time!
But yes, the church which I grew up worshipping in every Sunday commemorated the special day with such a special service, one which included everything from wonderful performances by the choir and bell choir to stories from some of our longtime members about the church’s past.
One such member, June Boyd, recounted her childhood days worshipping in the church, which back in the early ‘40s and ‘50s was located in the building across from Amy Parks Heath Elementary School and adjacent to the old Church of Christ building.
“There were no classrooms,” June recalled. “There were little bitty chairs that we would sit in, and generally they would put us children off to the side so that we wouldn’t be too rowdy. But back then, you weren’t rowdy anyway or you got sent outside.”
Our church has seen over 59 pastors lead worship in its history. Some of the fondest memories I have of the church are when I was just a boy attending the services led by Pastor Larry Ravert in the old double wide church house. His sermons always seemed to hold my attention, and afterwards I always felt like I had learned something new about God or Jesus, much like the sermons from our current pastor, Omar Rikabi.
From the early days of our church comes the story of Claudia Jones. In 1913, she travelled by horse and buggy from farm to farm asking for donations to build the new church house. There’s also the story of J. C. Crowley – one of the three trustees and a local farmer – who did much of the carpenter work on that house.
While it’s certainly true that the church has seen a lot of change in more recent years, as the City of Heath continues to grow so too does the spirit of FUMC of Heath, as longtime member and area resident Martha Evans read aloud during Sunday’s worship:
“Through our various ministries – music ministry, youth ministry, local service missions, Lil’ Voyagers, Amigos Days, Bible studies, Heath Area Terrific Seniors, and many others – the people of the FUMC of Heath continue a legacy of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Like Claudia Jones, we are a people willing to go out. Like J. C. Crowley, we are ready to use our gifts and our talents. As we celebrate 125 years, we ask for God to make us more like Jesus, that through the Holy Spirit we may help accomplish his purposes in Heath and beyond for the next 125 years.”
Amen to that, Martha, amen.
Keep the good news coming, RockwallCounty… for goodness’ sake!
Story and photos by Austin Wells, Blue Ribbon News reporter.
Reflecting on the 125 year history of FUMC Heath
The First United Methodist Church of Heath was born as the Bethel Episcopal Church on July 31, 1890. On that day, James Hardin sold a one-acre plot of land at the corner of FM 740 to the Methodist Episcopal Church South for $25. A small house was built as a place to worship, and the Reverend W. T. Jordan received our first members in 1894. On November 29, 1909, the Methodist Episcopal Church South purchased a half-acre plot next door for $100, and the original property was sold. Between November 1909 and March 1910, theBethel church house was moved from the old plot to the new one, and the name was changed to Heath Methodist Episcopal Church.
In 1913, plans for a new church house began. It is believed that part of the original house was used to build the new church, and by 1916 a congregation worshipped in their new home, complete with a pot belly stove for heat and gasoline. We worshipped there for over five decades, and in 1939 the name changed and we became the Heath Methodist Church. In 1968 it was changed to Heath United Methodist Church, and in 1974 we moved to our current location.
The North Texas Conference approached the six-acre lot, and a temporary double wide house was brought in to be our new place of worship. The building had been used by several other Methodist churches in the Dallas area – most recently the New World United Methodist Church in Garland. On Easter Sunday, April 14, 1974, Reverend Dan G. Smith led the congregation to worship in our new home. By the way, the old church house still stands today near Amy Parks Heath Elementary andHeathCity Hall, and is used as a residential home.
In 1979 our name was changed again to the First United Methodist Church of Heath. In 1999 ground was broken for a new building. On May 23, 1999, a new sanctuary, two offices, four Sunday School rooms and a parlor were consecrated. In 2005, the sanctuary was expanded, and an office suite, more classrooms, Fellowship Hall and a youth loft were added.
By Austin Wells, Blue Ribbon News reporter.
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