Smith County, Texas
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Glenwood United Methodist Church was a vital part of
Tyler for almost 60 years (October 19, 1947 – May 20, 2007). A more
complete history may be found in the Local and Family History Room
in the Tyler Public Library.
The year was 1947. World War II had ended. People were reorganizing their lives after the disruption of the war years. Most veterans who had survived came home. Some had married young women from all parts of the United States and from some foreign countries. Some local girls had married military men who were stationed nearby and then returned to Tyler. Homes were being built, mostly in the south and southwestern part of town. Tyler was growing.
There were three Methodist churches in Tyler at that time Marvin Methodist Church was located downtown, Cedar Street Methodist Church in North Tyler and St. Paul’s Methodist Church in East Tyler. There was no Methodist church south of the business district.
The Tyler District of the Methodist Church was blessed with having a District Superintendent, Dr. Robert E. Goodrich, who had vision and a perspective for the future needs of the church. In the true Methodist tradition of sending preachers where the people are, he conceived the idea of a church in South Tyler that was to become the Glenwood Methodist Church.
Under his leadership, a committee from Marvin Methodist Church was formed to study the need, and they recommended the establishment of a new church in South Tyler. The Texas Annual Conference was petitioned to authorize the formation of the church at the June 1947 Annual Conference. Bishop A. Frank Smith appointed the Reverend Lamar S. Clark, who had recently returned after serving as a chaplain in the military service, to organize a new Methodist church in the area of growth in Tyler.
The Reverend Clark attracted the interest of several members of local congregations, many of whom now lived in South Tyler; and with a committee from Marvin Methodist Church, a steering committee was formed to select a site and made plans to establish the new church. [The following letter from Lamar Clark was sent to prospective members.]
The steering committee chose a very logical location for the church. The City of Tyler had constructed a loop around the west and southern perimeter of the town that became known as Glenwood Boulevard, and then a point about four blocks west of South Broadway became Fifth Street. It was at this juncture that an excellent location was established. The church was named Glenwood Methodist Church.
Mr. R. Walter Fair, a member of Marvin Methodist Church, purchased the land and gave it to the new church. Mr. Felix W. Betts, also a member of Marvin Methodist, donated a large canvas tent that was erected on the site.
The Reverend Clark conducted a two-week revival in the tent. The first formal worship service was held in the tent on October 19, 1947; just four months after the Reverend Clark arrived. On that date the Charter Membership was closed and there were 98 Charter members.
The church was organized right away. The church school consisted of four classes, each one occupying one of the corners of the tent. One large class of women was taught by Mrs. Mary McKibben. That class was named for her and continued until 1982. The Lamar Clark class was taught by the Reverend Lamar Clark and continued until 1994.
The Women’s Society of Christian Service (WSCS) and the Wesleyan Service Guild (WSG) were organized. A Boy Scout Troop was formed, sponsored by the church, with Leland Nichols as Scoutmaster. A Choir was formed and a building committee elected. The first officers of Glenwood Methodist Church were:
ACCORDING TO THE CHURCH RECORDS THESE WERE CHARTER MEMBERS OF GLENWOOD UNITED METHODIST CHURCH AS OF OCTOBER 19, 1947
[When Glenwood merged with Water Fair Memorial United Methodist, four charter members were still members of Glenwood United Methodist Church – Helen Craig, LaVelle Kee, and Buvin and Evelyn Tucker.]
Five months after the church was started (March 1948) there were 125 members.
On March 20, 1949, a formal opening service was held in the new building with Bishop A. Frank Smith; Dr. Robert E. Goodrich, District Superintendent; and the Reverend Lamar Clark, pastor. At the end of two years (1949), the membership of the church was 251.
Charter members and those who joined early in the life of the church held many dear memories of services in the tent, when at first it had a sawdust floor, then a wooden floor, and a large gas stove near the center; when everyone willingly had a job to do and was enthusiastic, and fellowship was abundant. The spirit of a new venture prevailed.
This carried over when they moved into the new modern building
and was manifested by good steady growth in membership both in the
church and in the Sunday school. By 1950 there were 370 church
members on the roll and 353 members in the Sunday school.
1951 – 1968
By 1951 the membership of the church was 509 with 445 Sunday school members. Due to the continued growth, another two-story wing was added to the education building in 1953.
In 1960 a new multi-purpose building which included a new
fellowship hall, offices, and additional classrooms was added to the
church. The first associate pastor, Rev. Walter Shine, was appointed
for Glenwood. The church sponsored a Cuban refugee family in 1962.
1970 – 2000
When the church celebrated its 25th anniversary, there was a membership of 1000. A new sanctuary was built in 1976 to accommodate this growth. The membership continued to grow until the early 1990s. In 1992 the final payment was made on the church mortgage and celebrated with a note burning on March 1, 1992.
In 1992 the Glenwood Pumpkin Patch was started. A truckload of pumpkins was sold to the community as a fund raising project for Missions. Children from the public school and local day care centers were entertained with storytelling and picture coloring. In 1997, 1, 237 children were entertained by the Pumpkin Patch.
In 1997 there were seven adult Sunday school classes, children and youth classes and two Bible Study groups. The United Methodist Women and United Methodist Men were active. Two Sunday morning worship services were conducted and various community groups used the church facilities for meetings.
Early in 1997 a Jubilee Committee was formed with to prepare for a celebration on October 9, 1997, for the 50th anniversary of the founding of Glenwood United Methodist Church. Evelyn Tucker, a charter member, chaired this committee.
In 1999 the first Health and Safety Fair was held with community
agencies distributing materials and information. The Public Health
Department provided “Shots Across Texas”.
2001 – 2007
There was a continued decline in membership in the new century. Programs that were a focus during this period were the Pumpkin Patch, Health and Safety Fair, flood buckets for United Methodist Committee on Relief, various community and Methodist programs, and Bible study groups.
At the beginning of 2007 the congregation of Glenwood had to confront a difficult decision. Due to the loss of members over the past few years, primarily from death, it was determined that within 6-8 months Glenwood would be unable to financially support the church. . In a vote from a called church conference, the members voted that the church should investigate a possible merger with another local United Methodist church. Three local churches expressed a desire to merge with Glenwood: St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, Walter Fair Memorial United Methodist Church, and a new church plant planned for south Tyler. After talking with representatives of these churches, Glenwood voted to discuss merging with Walter Fair Memorial UMC. Merge teams from the two churches were formed from church leadership and select member representatives to explore the possibility of a merger and the steps needed to implement this change. It was also decided that since this would be a “new church”, a new church name would be needed. Sale of the church plant was also planned and within a week the trustees had a contract for the sale of the church.
Merge committees first met in February, 2007, to begin the merge process. With a vote in April, approximately 80% of the congregation voted to merge with Walter Fair Memorial UMC, 1712 Old Omen Road. By the end of May, 100 Glenwood members elected to transfer their membership to the newly formed Fairwood United Methodist Church.
The final church service of Glenwood United Methodist Church was held on May 20. Former pastors in attendance and participating in the service were Roy Biser, Gene Steger, Jim Chatham, and Tom Haygood. Charter members in attendance were Evelyn and Buvin Tucker and LeVelle Kee. Approximately 200 members, friends, and former members were in attendance to celebrate the service of Glenwood to the United Methodist Church and Tyler.
During the nearly 60 years Glenwood United Methodist Church served Tyler, many people in the community have been touched by its ministry. As Pastor Carol Heath stated during the final celebration service, “A Church is more than numbers. A church is people, gathered for living a common life together for the cause of Christ.” The following information compiled by Pastor Heath illustrates the impact one congregation had on the lives of people:
The merge process was completed by May 27, Pentecost Sunday, when
the congregations of Glenwood UMC and Walter Fair Memorial UMC
became a new church to be known as Fairwood United Methodist Church
with Rev. Rick Tate as pastor. The church facilities were sold to
Dale Chapel Baptist Church on June 19, 2007.
|Walter Shine||Jerry Roberts|
|Arthur Williams||Carroll Copeland|
|Travis Darby||Phillip Griffin|
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