The History of Wesley United Methodist Church Nederland, Texas

This history is presented in loving memory of, and in honor of, the early members of Wesley who carried out their dream.  Because of their efforts, we have a church where it is an honor to be a member.

 An airport.  What a great place for high flying dreams to begin.  Wesley Methodist Church had its beginning when Wesley’s first pastor, Rev. Jack Hooper, conducted the first service on August 5, 1956.  The first services were held at the National Guard Armory, and were later moved to the Flying Chef Restaurant at the Jefferson County Airport.  Evening services were first held at the Armory, and were later held at the Beauxart Garden Community House.  Mrs. Clara Pleasant submitted the name “Wesley Methodist Church,” which was approved by the congregation and reported to the District Superintendent, Dr. D.L. Landrum.

 The church membership reached 94 by the end of 1956, and average Church School attendance was 58.  With financial help from the District Board of Missions and Church Extension, the church bought its first parsonage at 512 28th Street, and also bought the property on which the church is now located.  The fellowship hall, kitchen, and classrooms were completed in 1958, which required a loan of $60,000.  The first worship service in the new church was held on December 31, 1958, at which time the membership had grown to 192.

 Around 1961, the membership had grown to 265, worship service attendance was at 180, and Church School attendance was 110.  Crowded conditions were becoming a problem, so, in 1963, a new sanctuary, more classrooms, and offices were built with a loan of $70,000.  Actually, the old loan and new loan were combined into a bond issue of $125,000.

 By 1966, the membership was 500, morning worship attendance was averaging 200, and Church School attendance reached an average of 150.  This spectacular growth rate was indicative of an active, dynamic church.

 In 1979 a new parsonage was built on adjoining church property at 625 35th Street.  The old parsonage was sold.  The debt on the new parsonage was paid off in just two years- September 1981.

Other significant events in the life of Wesley include the pouring of new concrete parking lots, the installation of a steeple and carillon system, re-roofing the entire church building, renovation of the fellowship hall (and re-naming it Perkins Hall, in memory of charter member J.H. Perkins), installing vinyl siding, replacing the air-conditioning system, and various other smaller projects.  In 1999, the members of Wesley gathered for a groundbreaking ceremony to begin construction on a new family life building.  The Christian Life Center, or CLC as it became called, was dedicated in early 2000.  It was yet another long-term dream fulfilled by many of Wesley’s faithful members.

In 2005, Wesley's sanctuary building was heavily damaged by hurricane Rita.   After Rita, the church worshipped in the Christian Life Center while constructing a new sanctuary.  In August 2008, the sanctuary was sufficiently complete to allow the church to begin worship there.   Ironically, the consecration service of the new sanctuary, planned for September 21, 2008, was postponed due to the arrival of hurricane Ike.

 14 pastors and one associate pastor, shown below in chronological order, have served the church. 

Pastor

From

To

Years-Months

Jack Hooper

August 1956

September 1959

3- 1

Stewart Bell

September 1959

June 1963

3- 9

James Tunnell

June 1963

June 1967

4- 0

Sherrill Hall

June 1967

June 1968

1- 0

Jim Crawford

June 1968

September 1969

1- 3

Earl Cantrelle

November 1969

October 1973

3- 11

W.C. Hall

October 1973

January 1977

3- 3

Ben Reily

January 1977

January 1982

5- 0

Buddy Hillenkamp

January 1982

June 1986

4- 5

Leo Parker

June 1986

June 1989

3- 0

Eugene Easterly

June 1989

January 1996

6- 7

Lynne Settlemyre

January 1996

June 2001

5- 5

Stephanie Fournier (Associate)

June 1997

December 1997

0- 6

Carla Shield

June 2001

June 2005 

4- 0

Kevin Otto

June 2005

Present 

 

 Wesley United Methodist Church – Early Members

1956:

Carl Murphy

Edward Pullin

Sue Sitton

James Westbrook

Lois Murphy

Virginia Pullin

Robert Curtis

Asa Spencer

Billy Joe Murphy

Eula Maye Pullin

Carrie Curtis

Denise Spencer

Neil Sheffield

Hollis Wright

Alma “Ma” Melder

Stephen Sturrock

Bernice Sheffield

Allie Wright

Joyce Knupple

James Sitton

Lestor Rector

Lynn Wright

Thurston Goodwin

Paul Strother

Sadie Rector

Louise Wright

Ruby Goodwin

Frances Strother

Sam Sturrock

David Holmes

Roy Goodwin

Wanda Sitton

Joyce Sturrock

Effie Holmes

Don Goodwin

Charles Cole

Pauline Sitton

Janet Holmes

Harry Farris

Joyce Ross

Ed Stewart

Lillie Kreishner

Isabella Farris

Velma Weatherly

Nannie Stewart

Helen Hooper

Vera Ford

Wesley Weatherly

J.H. Perkins

Joe Manry

Nelson Sapp

Robert Sibley

Edna Perkins

Ruby Manry

Sally Sapp

Inez Sibley

H.C. Youmans

Eugene Pleasant

Pearl Manry

Jackie Holt

Archie Youmans

Clara Pleasant

William Westbrook

John Ford

George Streetman

Wayne Pleasant

Eura Westbrook

 

Valmeeta Streetman

Mary Ruth Pleasant

Ada Westbrook

 

Edward Streetman

Eugenia Pleasant

Mary Westbrook

 

 1957:

Joan Byrd

James Street

Newton McLain

John Goodwin

John Seabolt

Grace Wolf

Patricia McLain

Mary Goodwin

Marjorie Seabolt

Lola Grimes

Nell Thomas

Paul Ross

Jack Frazier

John Goss

Benjamin Thomas

Neil Sheffield

Corinne Frazier

Maude Goss

Fred Cessac

Margie Sheffield

Bobbie Stewart

John Coffman

Theda Cessac

Martha Dean

Ima Grace Sturrock

Patricia Coffman

William Browne

Betty Strawn

Lowell Morgan

Linda Holt

Mildred Browne

Thomas Ross

Marilyn Morgan

Grace Hodnett

James Abshier

Clifford Williams

William Hodnett

Larry Strother

Barbara Abshier

Mary Williams

Paul Holt

Mary Dubose

Sondra Whiddon

 

 1958:

Sam Whiddon

Sarah Schell

Melvin Schell

Jeptha Keeling

Ruth Whiddon

Bethel Cessac

Charles Whiddon

Pauline Keeling

Ed Griffith

James M. Abshire

Robert Rothrock

Sidney DuBose

Loraine Griffith

Paulette Ross

Jean Rothrock

Melvin Stuart

Eleanor Griffith

Pamela Whiddon

Elizabeth Manry

Lois Stuart

Michael Griffith

Danny DuBose

Carl Freeman

Hollis Powell

Charlie Brown

Andrew Smith

Marlene Freeman

Christine Powell

Rhoneta Brown

Zillah Smith

Wanda Alberta

David Dugas

Charlie M. Brown

Carrel Hanley

Harold Dalby

Colita Dugas

Rita Brown

Annell Hanley

Joyce Dalby

 

 Many of these early members are STILL living the dream at Wesley!! 

Barbara Vincent, Gerald Nelson, and Steven Nelson compiled this church history. 
It was last revised in September 2008

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