One: Foundation Document

On the 8th of November, 1889, three Methodists– M. M. Pitman, Valentine Goetz, and F. E. Kelly, trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, of Midland– entered the office of Justice of the Peace A. S. Hawkins to officially file a document. Four years after first organizing, the congregation they represented was ready to construct a building.That legal document, a Refunding Bond and Mortgage, laid the foundation for the first Methodist structure in Midland.


In the document they filed, the trustees promised to “procure and possess a House of Worship, adapted to their wants, and to be by them and their successors, held in trust.” To assist them in this endeavor, the Board of Church Extension (BCE) of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, provided $500 which they would have to refund should the Midland church “cease to be connected” with the Methodist denomination. For one dollar, the Trustees secured the agreement by conveying ownership of “all of lots four (4), five (5) and six (6) in block No 54 in the town of Midland” to the BCE.

The following day, Midland County Clerk A. B. Rountree certified the document was properly filed. The first Midland Methodists would finally have their own church.

In the summer of 1885, seven Methodists, six of them women, met and took the first steps to start a congregation in the fledgling community of Midland. It was not the best of times to undertake a new church venture. Blizzards in the winter of 1884-85 destroyed thousands of head of cattle, driving many ranchers into bankruptcy. Two years of severe drought followed, wiping out more farmers and ranchers.

The local Methodists were determined, however. They began meeting in the community’s school buildings or in the Baptist church when it was available. They were ministered to by a combination of supply pastors and circuit riders. Supply pastors served on a part-time or fill-in basis for churches unable to support a full-time preacher. Some might only be commissioned to serve as local pastors. Once established as a viable congregation, a small group such as Midland became part of a circuit of churches, called a charge. A single pastor, appointed by an annual conference, traveled about preaching and ministering to the churches in his charge. He would be one of a legendary company, the circuit riders, who traveled on horseback, their Bibles in their saddlebags and their trust in the tiny congregations they served for their subsistence.

Official records of those early years are sparse. W. T. Burk and Bush McDonald ministered to the Midland community between 1885 and 1888 and may have been local supply pastors. In 1888, William Monk was assigned the newly-formed New Mexico District, the frontier segment of the West Texas Conference. His charge included all of western Texas lying beyond the Pecos River, still a largely unsettled region. Monk, a veteran circuit rider, spent the next two years wandering this huge expanse. Reverend Monk must have also worked with the Midland congregation in his travels to and from far West Texas. Local church history records him as pastor.

Monk helped build the first Methodist church in New Mexico and may have inspired the young Midland congregation to plan a house of worship. Reverend J. T. L. Annis actually helped them accomplish that. A Civil War veteran who came to Texas after the war and found religion, Annis served several West Texas circuits during his career. He inspired church-building wherever he was appointed.

In 1889 Reverend Annis was appointed to the Big Spring station. Five years earlier, as the first Presiding Elder of the Colorado Circuit, he had encouraged the Big Spring congregation to erect a rough-hewn wooden building.


Trustee Signatures

 As pastor of the Big Spring church, Annis was close enough to Midland to periodically lead worship services. He provided advice and guidance encouraging congregation members to build a church. According to his son, Revered Annis “took the first collection for the building of that edifice.” In November 1889, the Midland Trustees filed the paperwork to begin their church facility.

The Methodist Board of Church Extension agreed that it was time to build a church in Midland. As communities arose in western Texas in the late nineteenth century, the BCE provided funds and guidance to help congregations erect church building and parsonages. BCE policy was designed to help smaller congregations build stylish but moderate structures. They provided funds for church construction where the cost did not exceed $10,000. (1)

To assist churches in erecting suitable buildings, the BCE contracted with Benjamin D. Price, Architect, in 1876 to prepare plans for a range of affordable churches from very simple structures to rather stylish ones, mostly with a Gothic flavor.


Benjamin Price Church Plan Catalog

By 1885, Price had prepared 67 different church plans which could be purchased from the Board through mail-order booklets. Church Plans ranged in price from $2 up to $50. Congregations receiving BCE funding were expected to purchase a set of plans and use them in constructing their sanctuary. Many small Texas churches were built according to Price plans, though they often included local variations from the template.(2)



The Midland church was erected on three lots of Block 54 fronting Abilene Street. Abilene Street was later renamed Main Street. The church site now houses the Convention Center and Midland Chamber of Commerce. In 1890, this was at the heart of the city, adjacent to Midland’s first hotel, the Llano, which quickly became a prominent area landmark.


No record of Benjamin Price plans remain in the church archives, but this original structure bears a close resemblance to Plan 19-A. The building was dedicated on Sunday, February 16, 1890 by Bishop Joseph Key and Midland had its first Methodist church. (3)




1.  “Benjamin Price & the Board of Church Extension,” The New Jersey Churchscape. accessed January 9, 2017.

2.  “Price of the Oysterville Church,” Sydney of accessed January 9, 2017.

3.  “Letter from O. B. Annis,” First Methodist Midland Newspaper, December 30, 1960, 1.

–Jim Collett, Church Historian

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