First Methodist has been part of Midland’s history from the earliest days of the city, when a small group gathered to meet with a Methodist minister of the West Texas Conference to “organize a church.” From that humble beginning, First Methodist has grown into the vibrant, multifaceted church of today, the last of the Midland churches to remain on its original site (almost) and continue to serve a vastly expanded community from the heart of downtown Midland. 


So You’re A Midland Methodist?

First Methodist Midland today has a diverse family of members. For some, this is the only church they have known. As infants, they were baptized here. As youth, they attended Sunday school, sang in children’s choirs, and deepened their faith in a confirmation class. Now, as adults, they attend and serve the church in various ministries. In fact, some of them are the third generation of their family to do this.

Others came here as young couples, drawn to the opportunities in one of Midland’s growth cycles and made this their new church home. Some of them have never left; some have come and gone several times following the vicissitudes of the oil industry. Upon each return, they reconnected with First Methodist and with friends old and new.

There are also those who are brand new members. Some join quickly after a visit or two, attracted to the vibrant activity of the church. Others take their time, becoming regular attendees before taking the final step into membership.

So, whatever your connection to First Methodist, you are the heirs of a local tradition now over a century long and of a Methodist heritage reaching back centuries. How much do you know of what is means–or has meant–to be a Methodist in Midland? Below is a short quiz to test your knowledge. All are True/False question, so you have a 50/50 chance even if you guess. 

[And if you are a just visiting our site, I invite you to read the quiz to learn about many interesting aspects of Methodist life in Midland. Finally, of course, you are also invited to join us in worship anytime you are in the neighborhood.]

Read each question and determine whether it is true or false. Then follow the link below to see how well you did.

1.  There are currently six active Methodist churches in Midland.

2.  The Methodists were the first to erect a sanctuary in Midland.

3.  The stained glass windows along the north sanctuary wall depict four founders of Methodism.

4.  The first handbell program was started in the 1950s for young boys in grades 7-9.

5.  Midland Methodists are expected to become perfect.

6.  The current sanctuary is the third one erected on this site.

7.  The Chrismon Tree we erect each Advent Season is a Methodist tradition that spread to other denominations.

8.  The first contemporary services held by First Methodist took place at the Midland Community Theater.

9.  One of the pastors appointed to this church was expelled from the Methodist faith during his time here.

10.  The current longest organized active adult Sunday school class is the Fellowship Class.

11.  Boy scout troop 152, sponsored by the Methodist Men, was organized in 1939.

12.  Only one person has ever served as pastor for First Methodist more than once.

13.  The tenure, or length of service, of Midland pastors changed dramatically after World War II, beginning in 1947.

14.  The Midland Methodist Church had a parsonage before it had a sanctuary.

15. The chapel contains artifacts from the three previous sanctuaries.

16. The first pipe organ in the church was installed in 1955.

17.  The first church plant by First Methodist Midland was St. Mark’s on North Main.

18.  The Boone Bible Class, an adult group organized in 1930, was named in honor of the pioneer Daniel Boone, who was a lifelong Methodist.

19.  Descendants of two of the original six Midland church founders still attend First Methodist.

20.  Dr. Tim Walker is the 42nd senior pastor of First Methodist Midland.


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 jimcollett@firstmethodistmidland.com. 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.