First Church Firsts

By October 18, 2019

As we prepare to celebrate the 90th anniversary of our groundbreaking on this beautiful building our faith community calls home, here’s a bullet-point history and a few bits of trivia that may interest you about the many First Church Firsts and milestones we’ve celebrated during the past nine decades.

First Pastor: Rev. John Wesley Chalk (1853)

First Female Clergy: Rev. Linda McDermott (1983-86; 1997- present)

First Clergy of Color: Dr. Luther Henry

First Executive Pastor: Dr. Mike Marshall

First Executive Director: John Howard

First Outreach: Thanksgiving Baskets (1977)

First Mission Trip: “On the Road” to help hurricane victims in Lake Charles, LA (1957)

First Choir Director: Robert R. Clark, Minister of Music

First Organist: Will Foster

First Children’s Ministry: Epworth League (1954-55)

Other significant milestone celebrations*:

  • Merged with St. Paul’s Methodist Episcopal (north) Church, 1930
  • Walkover to New Building from 7th Street Building, October 30, 1930
  • Dedication of the Fifth Street Sanctuary, June 14, 1931
  • Burning the Note Ceremony (final payment on 5th street Building), June 15, 1945
  • Epworth Hall (now John and Jane Justin Youth Building), opened May 1, 1955
  • Air conditioning installed, 1956
  • Judge Lyle purchased and donated 6.3 acres on Eagle Mountain Lake, December 31, 1960
  • First Methodist Church Foundation incorporated, September 30, 1964
  • Reuter Organ (105 ranks, 6,610 pipes) dedicated, April 16, 1967
  • Denomination became the United Methodist Church, April, 1968
  • Florence Street Closed for parking and Statue, March, 1969
  • Children’s Wing completed, named for O.C and Elizabeth Armstrong, March, 1970
  • Rev. Larry Grubb joins the staff to begin Singles Ministry, Counseling Ministry, AIDS Outreach, 1972
  • First Weekly TV Broadcast on Channel 11, KTVT, March 2, 1975
  • Infant Formula Program developed, 1987
  • First Street Mission Opens at 801 First Street, January 1990
  • First FUMCFW Website,, 1996
  • Foundation Building purchased and $6 million church debt retired, 1999
  • Welcome Center Opened June 6, 2004
  • Blessing of the Animals, September 19, 2004
  • 75th Anniversary of the opening of the Sanctuary, June 11, 2006
  • Dr. Bill Longsworth and Rev. Brooks Harrington begin DiscipleChurch, October 15, 2006
  • Justice Ministry, November 1, 2007
  • Archives established to preserve FUMCFW history for future generations, November 4, 2007
  • Opening of Center for Creative Transformation (CCT) for Survivors of Suicide, Divorce Recovery, Grief Support, June 10, 2007
  • Opened the expanded First Street Methodist Mission Building, 2008
  • New high-altar needlepoint kneelers dedicated October 16, 2008
  • Centering Prayer Service, September, 2008
  • Columbarium Completed, Spring, 2010
  • “Bubba Crocker” churchwide potluck supper, 2010
  • FUMCFW hosted CTC Annual Conference, 2010
  • Dedicated Anne S. and Henry B. Paup Sanctuary Pipe Organ, 2014
  • Children’s Wing Expansion, 2015
  • Churchwide vote to move forward on Next90 Building Program, 2018

*Research courtesy of FUMCFW Archives.

To learn more about these and other historic First Church moments and milestones, please join us for our 90th Anniversary combined worship and anniversary celebration on Sunday, October 27 at 9:30 and 11:00 am in the Sanctuary — and be sure to visit Wesley Hall between services to see the display of memorabilia also provided by our hardworking FUMCFW Archives.

In addition to this nostalgic display, enjoy fun and fellowship between services in Wesley Hall as all 6 of our worshipping communities come together in worship and celebration. Enjoy refreshments (including Pearl Snap Kolaches and Breakfast Tacos) and a wonderful time of being together and celebrating the rich history and legacy we share at First Church Fort Worth!

And, to add even further to our 90th Anniversary fun, be sure to wear article of clothing or an accessory from any decade 1920s – 2010s, and take a few moments to stroll down 5th Street between services to view an array of classic cars representing each decade.


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