With this annual Fort Worth Business Press award, FUMCFW takes its place among trailblazers in business, civic, and social contributions.
“Find something that truly blesses someone else’s life and offer what you can. This can be in a volunteer position, a financial contribution, and/or simply the courageous and intentional way you live your day-to-day life.”
— Rev. Linda McDermott
2016 Recipient of Great Women of Texas Award
When bestselling author and former newspaper reporter Jeff Guinn penned a firsthand, harrowing account about the week he spent living on the streets of Fort Worth in 1997, it opened the eyes of many — from private citizens to top civic leaders. Beyond that, it touched the heart of Rev. Linda McDermott of First United Methodist Church of Fort Worth in a way that compelled action.
Among the first women to serve a major denomination as full-time clergy (ordained as deacon in 1985 and then as elder in 1989), Linda has been mentor and role model to an entire generation of female clergy in The United Methodist Church. True to her reputation as trailblazer in her role as a female ordained clergy, Linda immediately called upon her resources as a leader, educator, community organizer, mediator, and pastoral presence to help create the kind of solution for which she is well-known.
Uniting the civic and community effort with the resources and heart of this large downtown church, Linda’s role as one of the original five people — with the strong encouragement of Guinn — who began the work toward bringing the Day Resource Center into being was to unite the church with the commitment of the community.
While she is quick to say that many others played very significant roles in various areas, Linda was tasked with creating, developing, and hosting specific and varied gatherings — from small communities of leadership to larger groups within the greater community. She mentions the “big help” of Dr. Jake Schrum, then President of Texas Wesleyan University, in pulling some of these groups together as Fort Worth itself pulled together to create this shared vision of providing true help to meet the real needs of its homeless population, addressing the gritty realities Guinn uncovered in his pivotal article.
“It was such a genuine community effort,” Linda says. “I think my main role was to be the spokesperson, both for our church and to our church, along with several community groups whose members included church members who got me invited to speak to them about this project that so fit the heart of our congregation.” The momentum and the network of interest and commitment continued to build, and the doors of the Day Resource Center opened in 1999. According to “Man on the Street,” an article published in 360 West Magazine in which Meda Kessler revisited this story with Guinn himself, the Day Resource Center now serves about 600 people each day, offering them a place to take a shower, use the restroom, play cards, watch television, receive mail, get job search training and free health screenings, and other life essentials.
For Linda, the choice to respond to Jeff Guinn’s call was natural: “I just had known the heart of this church when I served here during seminary, and seeing this as a vital congregation that at that time was struggling, it just really hit me hard and Jeff’s initial phone call gave me a hint of where we might regain our strength.”
Rev. Linda McDermott, FUMCFW Senior Associate Pastor, has served FUMC Fort Worth since 1997 (and from 1983 – 1986). She also served on the Executive Board and Board of Directors for the Day Resource Center from 1997 – 2002, the Texas Christian University Wesley Foundation from 1992 – 2005, and on the Central Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church Board of Ordained Ministry from 1992 – 2008. She holds a master of divinity degree from Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University and a bachelor of arts degree from The University of Texas.
On Wednesday, October 26, Linda was recognized along with 28 other Great Women by the Fort Worth Business Press for her trailblazing work in our community. This very public acknowledgement of Linda’s thought-provoking leadership that does not shy away from difficult questions, her talent for creating systems and consensus within communities, and her active compassion that provides an unforgettable model of grace and ease — even in difficult situations — only serves to confirm what we at First Church Fort Worth already know. Congratulations, Linda, for this well-deserved recognition!
“I am honored and humbled to be counted among the women who have made a difference to our community,” Linda says. “I remember the countless women whose names will never be recognized but whose passion for justice and compassion for others prompted them to combat social mores in order to serve a higher purpose. They have left their legacy at our community’s hospitals, United Community Centers, Children’s Home, Lena Pope Home, MHMR, Salvation Army, the Day Resource Center, and hundreds of others. They are to be honored for all the time and resources they gave, many at great expense (socially and financially) to themselves. Many were the mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers of women being honored today but whose names are known only to their loved ones.”
Linda’s advice to someone who yearns to get involved in making a difference in his or her community? “Find something that truly blesses someone else’s life and offer what you can,” she says. “This can be in a volunteer position, a financial contribution, and/or simply the courageous and intentional way you live your day-to-day life.”