St. Mark's United Methodist Church
Saturday, May 18, 2013
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors
THE MERGED CHURCH - ST. MARK’S
At the 100th session of the Texas Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and the first session following Methodist Union, held in Houston, November 7-12, 1939, Bishop Smith appointed Rev. Landrum to be pastor of St. Mark’s.
Lay officials included:
There was a Loyalty Campaign November 26-December 4, 1939 to subscribe to the church budget with appears small when compared to today’s expenses. Literature at the time stated: “The church has 1.525 members. Of a total of 646 churches in the Texas conference only eight have a larger membership than St. Mark’s.”
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THE FOLLOWING BUDGET WAS ADOPTED BY THE OFFICIAL BOARD OF ST. MARK’S METHODIST CHURCH, NOV. 26,1939
The first budget of St. Mark’s.
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Finally, after contractor and construction delays, the building was completed and plans made for a glorious first service in the beautiful Gothic sanctuary. Invitations were mailed to the membership and friends. Although pews were being installed on Saturday there was great anticipation at the thought of occupying the beautiful new building.
The great day came, Sunday, February 4, 1940 and the old bell cast in 1892 for Zion Methodist Church and now located in the new St. Mark’s tower rang out its mellow tone calling people to this first service. Remember the phrase cast on the side of the bell in German: “Come unto me all ye who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”
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The bell is located so the inscription cannot be photographed.
It was stated in news releases that there was ample parking at the rear of the educational building but there was not. The eastern two lots of the present parking lot had not been acquired and it was necessary to park on the streets as far as two blocks away. There were ditches on Redan Street and the parking lot wasn’t even shelled. Worshipers were admonished not to park on the driveway. Pecore was paved and as there were no freeways the traffic, including many large trucks, was heavy and noisy.
Bishop A. Frank Smith, who had wholeheartedly supported the merger and building fund campaign, preached the first sermon in the new church on Sunday morning, February 4, 1940.
The following children were baptized during the first service:
Rev. A.A. Leifeste preached the second sermon that night. At each service the sanctuary was filled to capacity with worshipers who came to praise God for the many blessings He had bestowed upon the congregation.
Three other bishops preached on successive Sunday mornings. Bishop Sam R. Hay, Bishop John M. Moore and Bishop H.A. Boaz. During the first two weeks services were held every night except Saturday, conducted by former pastors of the two churches and prominent ministers from Houston and the Texas Conference:
St. Mark’s took its place in the Kingdom of Christ and was housed in its own sanctuary for which full payment had been provided. The pattern was set and the foundation was laid in denominational affiliation, in doctrinal declaration and in mission outreach. The seeds for all of this were planted by the devoted and dedicated members who labored to establish St. Mark’s.
The first wedding in the beautiful new sanctuary united Miss Mildred Froehner and Mr. John Rossow on March 1, 1940.
The first year saw St. Mark’s start with a bang and it kept running at full speed.
The first Easter, March 24, 1940, in the new building was a glorious day. Two worship services filled the sanctuary with 720 present in Sunday School classes and 49 joining the church as new members (13 children, 18 from the Junior High division, and 18 young people and adults).
The first anniversary of occupying the new building was celebrated the first Sunday in February, 1941. Dr. Robert Goodrich, Sr., pastor of Laurel Heights Methodist Church in San Antonio was guest speaker. Several of the church members wrote poems in recognition of the first anniversary. The poems were read by Miss Dorothy Shriner at the morning worship service.
Rev. Landrum remained as pastor until November, 1941, when Rev. Fred E. Few was appointed. Rev. Few served St. Mark’s during the years of World War II.
At the 105th session of the Texas Conference, held in Houston on November 7-10, 1944, Dr. Marcus M. Chunn was appointed pastor. Dr. Chunn transferred into the Texas Conference from the Central Texas Conference where for seven years he had been pastor of the Central Methodist Church in Fort Worth. He was a member of the General Board of Missions and Church Extension by election at the Jurisdictional Conference. He as president of that board in the Central Texas Conference and was also a trustee of Texas Wesleyan College and of the Harris Memorial Methodist Hospital.
In 1945, Dr. Chunn reported that St. Mark’s had a membership of 1,900 with a net gain of 100 members that year. Seating at the morning worship services was at a premium __the sanctuary, transepts and balcony were crowded. Church school attendance regularly exceeded 500 and on special days more than 700 attended. It is needless to state that all facilities were crowded, literally bulging at the seams.
Rev. Early Yokley was appointed associate pastor in 1947 and 1948. Rev. William M. Harris was associate pastor in 1949 and 1950. In addition, retired ministers were employed to be staff members at various times. They included: Rev. B.H. Fleming, Rev. G.C. Brannies, a former pastor at Zion, and Rev. A.A. Leifeste, former pastor at Norhill and a founding pastor at St. Mark’s. At a later time, Rev. William Edward Mitchell was appointed associate pastor.
World War II was drawing to a close in the summer of 1945, and at a dinner meeting of the board and their wives on June 5th of that year, Dr. Chunn announced that “…several members of our church have agreed to pay $7,000 to liquidate our church indebtedness if the remainder of the congregation would raise an additional $7,000.” Mr. W.J. Hubbell stated that he was most anxious that the debt be paid off in full by the time “our boys come home from the service.” He further stated that “this would be a fitting memorial to the boys who gave their all and to the ones who would soon be coming back.” During the meeting others expressed a desire that the general theme of this effort be an expression of gratitude to the members of St. Mark’s who are represented by the stars on the service flag. Dr. Chunn stated that pledges were to be made within 40 to 45 days and would have to be paid in full by December 1, 1945. In the reminiscences of Rev. Leifeste at the twenty-fifth anniversary of the church he made mention of this offer: “Mr. and Mrs. O.B. Williams challenged the membership that they would pay half of the $14,000 indebtedness if the membership would raise the other $7,000. This challenge offer was accepted unanimously. The money was raised and the note on the church property was paid in full.”
The “Day of Jubilee” came on the sixth anniversary of the first service in St. Mark’s. Bishop A. Frank Smith gave the dedication sermon. Rev. D.L. Landrum and Rev. A.A. Leifeste were in attendance as was Dr. Guy F. Jones, District Superintendent.
St. Mark’s was actively engaged in the war effort during World War II. Miss Lucy Huffman was coordinator of the work entertaining the soldiers who were stationed in the area. Members of the church provided Sunday dinner for those who attended church service. Letters and news were provided to the men and women from the church who answered the call to duty.
A large service flag was made of white satin bordered with red. In the center was a cross surrounded by 192 blue stars with the service person’s name under the star. The blue star was changed to gold for the following who were casualties:
On VJ Day, August 14, 1945, a special service was held in the sanctuary to mark the end of the hostilities with an address, “How to Live in a World of Peace,” given by the pastor, Dr. Chunn.
The service flag was restored and framed in 1983 and now hangs in the Heritage room.
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Dr. Chunn admiring the service flag as it hung in the foyer of the church at that time.
Chairmen of the Board of Stewards/Administrative Board:
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PASTORS OF ST. MARK’S
UNITED METHODIST CHURCH