A Special Renovation

Since its dedication in 1976, the Mabel Holt Glass Memorial Chapel has served as the site for special moments in the history of First United Methodist Church of Midland. Worship services, weddings, funerals and memorial services have all taken place in the beautiful space. The family of Mrs. Glass helped make this chapel a reality and have helped sustain it over the years. Now, the continued generosity of her descendants will allow much needed renovations to take place.

Church Interiors, the company that did earlier renovation work in the Sanctuary, provided a list of recommended improvements.

Ted Johnson, Bert Johnson and Karen Scharbauer, descendants of Mrs. George W. (Mabel Holt) Glass, generously committed to underwriting the project.

This project is not connected to the Connection project currently being finalized.

Work has begun on the chapel and will take approximately ten weeks. During that time the chapel will be closed for all activities. The scope of the work will include renovation of the chancel flooring, reworking the sound fabric covering the organ pipes and speaker area, reworking the pulpit surface, repairing or replacing wall coverings, and repairing plaster around the windows. All floor coverings will be replaced. The pews and woodwork will be refinished and pew and chair cushions replaced. The existing sound system will be replaced and new sounds panels added. The lighting will be upgraded to allow for LED lighting and a new dimming system added.

The basic appearance and format of the chapel will not change. When completed the project will allow the chapel to continue to be a beautiful and viable part of First Methodist.

The original chapel project began in 1974 with a capital campaign entitled, “One Shining Light.” Pastor Timothy Guthrie led the congregation in an initiative to complete the payment of the debt incurred in building the sanctuary that remains in use today. In addition, the campaign proposed building “a small but extremely useful memorial chapel” to be erected at the corner of Main and Illinois, where the old sanctuary had once stood.  Completing these two projects would finish a master building plan begun six years before. In the campaign booklet, Pastor Guthrie said, “Our beautiful church will shine before men as a symbol of work done and sacrifices made.”

George W. Glass, Mr. and Mrs. George Holt Glass and Mr. and Mrs. Ted Johnson pledged the funds, with the chapel to be a memorial to Mabel Holt Glass. Mabel was the daughter of O. B. Holt and Viola Josephine Bell, a pioneer family in early Midland. They were married by Midland Methodist pastor Nat Read in 1892 and remained lifelong members of First Methodist. Mrs. Holt served as church organist for many years.

Their daughter Mabel was born in 1905 and joined the church and was baptized in 1913. The Holts contributed a special stained glass window to the construction of the 1907 church, a beautiful brick church which replaced the original small wooden building. This window was given in memory of Mabel’s sister Cornelia who has perished from illness while still quite young. That window was preserved through later renovations and constructions of new sanctuaries. It now occupies a special place in entrance area to the chapel.

A graduate of what is now Texas Woman’s University, she taught school for several years in Stanton and Midland before she met and married George Glass in 1928. Like her parents Mabel was active in church affairs. She became a charter founder of the Boone Bible class, established in 1930, and was a member of the Women’s Society of Christian Service.

Mabel Holt Glass passed away in 1972. She was remembered as “a religious and spiritual woman, loved by many persons.” Her family’s support for a chapel in her memory reflected “the radiance which blessed those with whom she came in contact,” as well as “her dedication to God, the Bible, her church, her family and her community.”

Chapel Under Construction in 1975

Chapel Under Construction in 1975

The chapel was filled to overflowing on February 29, 1976 at its dedication. Big Spring District Superintendent Dr. J. Walter Browers joined the congregation and many individuals from other Midland churches for this special ceremony. Chapel events were already scheduled by the time of the chapel’s opening. Sunday Evening Vespers were conducted there beginning March 7 and continuing for some time. The first weddings were already on the calendar.

Over the years, the chapel, with its atmosphere of intimacy and sharing, has been filled with moments of joy and sorrow, laughter and tears, providing a special and beautiful place for events of faith. Many couples have begun their lives together there. Perhaps the most historic wedding in the chapel was the marriage of George W. Bush and Laura Welch on November 5, 1976.


Renovated Chapel July 2015

The renovated chapel has a refreshed look and feel. New lighting, fresh paint, new carpet, and refinished pews and rails complement and highlight the historic features. As it has for decades, the Glass Chapel continues to serve as a special place of faith here at First Methodist.