Celebrating UMC Legacies: Pleasant Mound, God's Kingdom, Jubilee
Let us celebrate and thank God for three Metro churches as they close their doors
Written by Rev. Edlen Cowley, the Metro District Superintendent, with contributions by Sharon Spratt and Greta McKelvey
At many points in the Old Testament, characters including Noah, Abram, Jacob, Moses and countless others built altars to celebrate significant moments of God’s presence that had been revealed to them in the way God showed up in their lives and personal experiences. This is a practice that we are well inclined to lean upon and emulate as we continue in our Christian witness across the North Texas Conference and the Metro District. As such, this article is presented as an “altar” to celebrate and highlight the ministry of God’s presence as shared through three congregations in our district. We celebrate and thank God for them as they complete their work as congregations in our midst. As you read this article, I invite you to join me in reflecting on and celebrating the unique ministries of these churches.
Pleasant Mound UMC
Pleasant Mound United Methodist Church was organized in 1875. The vibrant history of the church is captured in the book, “A Journey of Faith and Friendship: Pleasant Mound Methodists,” written by church member Bill Sanderson and published in 2019. This book tells the story of the church through the eyes of members including well-known and respected theologian Dr. Stanley Hauerwas.
In 2015, the church launched free English as a Second Language classes for adult immigrants in its neighborhood and mission field. Several students found a path to U.S. citizenship through these classes. Since 2017, the vision has been to launch a ministry aimed at reaching and nurturing the rapidly growing Hispanic/Latinx ministry in the broader Pleasant Grove area.
The legacy of Pleasant Mound that we celebrate is that The Seed, a church plant of Christ’s Foundry Methodist Mission, will begin in the former Pleasant Mound facility beginning July 1.
We will celebrate the original Pleasant Mound UMC ministry with a concert organized by Bill Sanderson on June 25. I appreciate Bill for his love of Pleasant Mound UMC and for his tireless work to preserve the history of the church. We are also thankful for the work of Rev. Elzie Odom and Rev. James Minor, who led the church through its concluding chapter. The words of this reflection create the altar we erect to give witness and thanks to God for the ministry and history of Pleasant Mound UMC.
God’s Kingdom UMC
The 1911 Ferris Methodist Episcopal Church was part of a two-point charge, along with Saint Delight of Ennis. As conference boundary lines shifted, the Ferris church became a two-point charge with the people of Porters Chapel, Lancaster. Originally, Qualls Chapel of Ferris was named in honor of past pastor, Rev. Henry H. Qualls; Rev. Sylvester Shed spearheaded the name change to God’s Kingdom during the late 1970s to draw new life and reflect God’s light. The good people of Qualls Chapel, as described in 1917 by the superintendent, were considered the most loyal in the district by 1962.
Between then and now, upkeep and uplift always motivated the sincere saints. Generosity funded claims and apportionments of the early church, while building campaigns funded several church beautification and expansion projects, including adjacent land and a parsonage. During the 1970s and the 1980s, a brick façade replaced the old white plank building exterior. Eliminating the interior altar rail and bench illustrated new life in the church and open access to Christ.
God’s Kingdom UMC continued for several more decades, reflecting Christ through steady membership, old-fashioned nurturing and innovative outreach.
We thank God for the witness of Rev. Roy Jerue, who led the church through its concluding chapter. His heart for the people and his focus on the church and the mission field served the church and our conference well. Today, we honor the altar that the good and loyal saints built — the altar of serving and saving souls for God’s kingdom.
Jubilee UMC’s first worship service occurred on February 20, 1994. The church began as a “community gathered in the name of Jesus Christ meeting at a new place where God is doing a new thing.” The church was founded by Metro District Superintendent Rev. Dr. Henry Masters.
The church expressed itself through a four-dimensional ministry of Preaching, Teaching, Reaching and Seeking. The church members and leaders viewed themselves as “agents of God’s liberating and reconciling work we seek to minister as transformed people determined to transform the world with a faith that is alive, vital, dynamic and contagiously exciting.”
The church had great leadership beginning with Rev. Dr. Masters. Over the years, the church was led by Rev. Dr. Sheron Patterson, Rev. Dr. Lucretia Facen, Rev. Calvin Page, and most recently by Rev. Bob Davis. Rev. Joe Connelly and Rev. Beverly Connelly were part of the initial launch group. Rev. Beverly Connelly is now the District Superintendent of the South and Central Districts of the Central Texas Conference.
Another former member, Sally Vonner, has just been elected as General Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of the United Women in Faith. Several pastors that have served in the North Texas Conference came through Jubilee, including Rev. Angela Williams, Rev. Rosalyn Hilburn, Rev. Roy Jerue, Rev. Aleze Fulbright and Rev. Darian Pace. The call and development of these leaders speaks to the strength of the witness of the ministry of the church.
Jubilee did its level-best to work through the pandemic and the extensive work that had to be done to its facility. The church is planning a final worship celebration that will happen in late June or early July. Today we honor the work and witness of all who have been a part of Jubilee’s ministry, and we build an altar to commemorate their reverence and service to God.
I thank God for the pastors, lay leaders and laity of these three churches. Celebrating their work in the context of our broader ministry is an honorable, strategic and wise use of our time and focus. The legacy that they share will live on in the broader witness of the North Texas Conference. I invite you to join us at Annual Conference when we will celebrate the witness of these churches. I invite you to look at your own life and ministry. I encourage you to take a moment to build an altar to God in your own life and experience. We celebrate the work of God in all of our districts, clergy and laity as we continue to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Published: Wednesday, May 31, 2023