In Search of the Past

First Methodist Midland began in 1885 when a handful of folks met with a Reverend Scoggins to begin what is today First Methodist Midland. Much of the detail of those early days has been lost over the years. Even the names of the “six members, only one male” who met with Reverend Scoggins have probably been permanently lost. Yet, many of the records and memories of more recent years are also fragile and in danger of disappearing as well. To help capture and preserve what we can, I have been working on compiling materials to write a history of this great church.
1948 Invitation Post Card

1948 Invitation Post Card

The last history of First Methodist was compiled in 1985 for the 100th anniversary of the church. That is now almost thirty years ago. Much has transpired in those years that should be added to the historic record.

Also, while efforts have been made over the years to preserve some of the church records, no true archives exist. The excellent display in the Parlor provides an overview of the church’s story and includes some treasured artifacts. However, the display is not an archive. An archive is a special place established for the storage of earlier, and often historical, material. An archive usually contains documents (letters, records, newspapers, etc.) or other types of media kept for historical interest. In some cases, archives contain special storage, humidity control and lighting to help preserve fragile materials.

With the passage of time, various materials at First Methodist Midland have accumulated in different storage spaces. Some are old records prepared for the conferences and districts to which First Methodist has been assigned over the years. Others consist of photo albums assembled by groups and classes that have disbanded with age. Some are from church organizations such as the Chancel Choir. Sadly, many of these images contain no information regarding the date, the event, or any of the people in the photograph. Perhaps someone remains who can name some of these individuals who were once such an important element of our church; perhaps not.

Beginning in 2012, Gayle Dodson and I began working to better record and organize the archival material that we have. Gayle is cataloging the materials in the Parlor display. I have been searching the dusty recesses of the church to see what I can find in terms of archival materials. I have begun the process of collecting, organizing, and filing what I have in file cabinets and storage cabinets in the Church Parlor. I have found pastor’s books over a century old, binders of church records from decades ago, copies of the first church newspaper, The Midland Methodist begun by Reverend Hollowell after World War II, and a wide variety of photograph albums.

As I stated earlier, however, many items lack any supporting information. Even the 1985 history, while a wealth of great information, includes many photographs without names and captions–faces that were known then, but may now be forgotten.

Further, material relating to the time since the 1985 history is becoming scare and fragmented. As a historian, I can bring a body of skills to writing a history but, as a relative newcomer (a ten-year church member), I can add fewer memories and personal records to the story. I would like to capture more about past ministers (and music directors and associate pastors and youth pastors) than just names and faces. I recall Lane Boyd and can write about him. Who recalls Russell Parchman or Charles Lutrick or Timothy Guthrie? What about Jeff Lust? Or George Dehart? When did contemporary services begin? What are the major historic events in our youth program, which reaches back to the Epworth League? At some point, memories no longer remain and we are left only with records. But many valuable memories do still remain. I hope to capture some of them for the history and the archive.

I invite any and all church members to contact me if you wish to help with this project. Perhaps some of you are second, third, or fourth generation members of this church. If you have old records or old photographs in your family materials relevant to this church, I hope you might consider sharing some of them with me. With modern technology, materials can easily be converted to digital scans with no damage or loss of the originals. If you are willing to meet with me to discuss your memories of a particular campaign or project in the church, I will be glad to arrange times we can meet. If you can find a time to look through old photo albums that have accumulated at the church and perhaps give names and dates to faces and scenes, that will also help enrich a source that currently has limited value.

The archival files in the Parlor are still in their infancy, but you are welcome to come view them, even use them for your own research. Just please do not remove them! If you have things you think should be added to the archives, either as originals or as copies, I encourage you to contact me or Gayle so we can examine them together and decide. No archive can keep everything; any archive I have ever used has crucial gaps. But every good archive has something of a record of the past which it seeks to preserve. I would like to make the archives of First United Methodist as rich as we can for the time and space we have.
I invite you to work with me. You can contact me at my office in the church. My e-mail is You can call me through the office phone at 432-682-3701. You can drop by during my office hours, Monday-Wednesday. You can leave me a note or message on my door.

Each person who has belonged to this church for more than a few days—perhaps only months or a few years—is nevertheless a part of its history. Those reading this story form a part of the living present of the church. Finally, and most importantly, each of those individuals bears the responsibility for helping create the future of First Methodist Midland.