University United Methodist Church members have started planning the church’s 100-year anniversary, from collecting old photographs and sermon recordings to inviting back former ministers, the church hoped to celebrate its history as a congregation within the community.
“Our church and the community surrounding the church in the 100 years has changed drastically and we want to stress how we’ve met the needs of our community in the past and how we’re doing that now,” said Susan Adcock, chair of the anniversary-planning committee and member of the church for 63 years.
The small committee, which is still being formed, recently began thinking of big ways to honor the church this October, church member David Vaughn said.
In addition to celebrating its anniversary, the church was recently approved for an official Texas Historical Commission marker. The approval process required an application describing the history of the property and its contribution to the community. The Tarrant County Historical Commission first judged the application and sent it to Texas Historical Commission in Austin for final approval, he said.
The historical marker will likely go on West Berry Street to the left of the sanctuary entrance, he said. The installation will probably take place sometime this summer. But for right now, the church is focused on the events for the anniversary celebration.
Currently, the church plans to have a room dedicated to a multimedia display with collages and posters of old sermon notes and photographs, Visitation Pastor David Griffin said.
The committee also may invite back former ministers or have a special speaker. The weekend of the celebration there will be events and food, including a cover dish meal one day and a catered one the other day to concentrate on the fellowship, Griffin said.
Since the committee is in its first stage of planning, all the details of the anniversary celebration have not been decided. Adcock said one of the main premises of the celebrations is that the anniversary will not just be focused on the past.
The church plans to honor long time members, but also needs to stress that the newer, younger members are now the future of the church and they are happy that they have them to carry on the visions of the older generation, she said. In June, the church will also be welcoming a new minister, so they want to honor that during the anniversary too.
“For our weekend celebration we want to focus not completely on the past but the present, the future and the vision for our church,” she said. “We want it to motivate us and revive our vision to do great things in the future.”
Griffin did not think of the anniversary as a celebration of the church building, but rather of the congregation. In fact, the current building, built in 1936, is the church’s third location since the first building was built near Hemphill Street. The church has also changed names over the years being known as Hemphill Heights Methodist Mission, Hemphill Heights Methodist Church, Matthews Memorial Methodist Church. Its current name, University United Methodist Church, was adopted in 1975.
The members of UUMC also feel strongly that the church is not about the building, Adcock said.
“We don’t want [the anniversary] to be a cornerstone of the building, but a cornerstone of the congregation,” she said.
UUMC has also seen days when it had a lot more members, Griffin said. The population of this part in Fort Worth has changed and so the people that were the backbone of the church in the 1960s and 1970s have either moved or died.
“Our numbers are not what they once were, but UUMC is still a vital church with a lot of strength,” he said.