Saturday, February 16, 2013


The History of Our Church 1876-1997

One Hundred and Twenty One Years of Methodism in Joaquin
Richard Wharton

            The Joaquin Methodist Church has had a continuous history since 1876, although it has not always been located at it’s present site.  This makes it the oldest church in Joaquin.

            The beginning of Methodism in our area was the organization of the Brookland Church.  It was located near the northeast corner of the Brookland Cemetery.  The land for the church was donated by the Brooks family.  The lumber for this church was contributed by Aunt Mary Brooks.

            At that time, the area was so thinly populated that the little church had difficulty making a go, both financially and in numbers.  The official board of the church decided to relocate nearer a center of population.  So the church building was moved to the southeast part of the county near the forks of a road.  One fork led to Shelbyville, the other to East Hamilton.  The church was called Harmony Methodist Church.

            In 1884, the church was moved back to the old Brookland site due to an increase in the population of that area.  That same year, the railroad was built from Shreveport to Houston, and a depot was established in what is now the town of Joaquin.  It was obvious that Joaquin was to be the new population center.

            In 1885, the official board purchased a plot in front of the present church building.  A church building was erected.  A row of cedars was planted along the walk leading to the entrance.  Some of the charter members of this church were:  Mr. and Mrs. Bob Crawford, Mr. and Mrs. Dick Brook, Mr. and Mrs. Cat Roger, Mr. and Mrs. W. D. Wade, and Mr. and Mrs. Tom Henry.  One of the first social events to take place in the church was the wedding of Dr. W. A. Ramsey and Miss Clara Short in 1885

            Because of a large increase in membership, the board decided to build a new building in 1904.  A site was purchased on the north side of the road.  This is the site where the present church now stands.  The road, which now runs in front of the church, was, at that time, the main road to Logansport.

            This new church was quite an improvement.  It ha two fronts, a peaked roof over one entrance and a steeple over the other.  The steeple housed the new church bell.  This bell rang out the good news of the Armistice at the end of World War I.  The historic bell is now mounted on a stand beside the Church.

            The 1904 building was weakened by a windstorm in 1921.  In that year, the second building on this site was erected.  In January, 1922, the Rev. John E. Green of Houston held the housewarming revival.  In spite of the weather, the house was filled each night and crowds overflowed into the aisles and along the walls.  Every available space, including the choir was filled.  The building was heated by wood heaters, and was quite comfortable.  Often though, the sermon would be interrupted by parishioners stoking the fire.  The pastor at that time was R. C Goens.

            The present church is the fourth in Joaquin, and the third on this site.  It was erected in 1951, and dedicated in 1961.  Methodist discipline requires that a church be totally free of debt before it can be dedicated.  This is not to be confused with consecration, which must be done before a worship service is held in the church. 

            The Joaquin Methodist Church became a full-time church in 1945.  Prior to that time, preaching was held every other Sunday.  The same system was in effect in the Joaquin Baptist Church.  As a result, the preaching dates were staggered so that there would be a service at one of the churches each Sunday.  There used to be a road on the north side of the railroad track from the depot to the Baptist Church.  After Sunday School, there would be a line of people going from one church to the other for preaching.

            When first organized, the Joaquin Methodist Church was known as, “The Methodist Episcopal Church, South.”  The original Methodist Church in America split over the question of slavery  In 1939, the three main branches of the Methodist Church throughout the United States united into, “The Methodist Church.”  This organization continued until 1962 when a union was formed with the Church of the Brethren and the Evangelical Church (two branches of Methodism which had remained separate due to language barriers).  The Brethren Church originally spoke German, and the Evangelical Church spoke Dutch.  The new organization was called the “United Methodist Church.”

            When a church has served a community for over 100 years, it becomes impossible to list all of its achievements.  A few of these however, should be recorded because of their importance to the larger community.

            First, each year the women of the Church hold a bazaar, offering to the public craft works, baked goods, and other useful articles.  The income from this bazaar is used for community and church projects not covered by the church budget.

            Second, in 1979, the church started, on a very small scale, a project which was intended to help needy travelers who came through Joaquin.  This meant supplying gas, food, and on occasion, lodging.  Gradually this work developed into an established, year-round program called “Christian Services.”  Eventually other churches in the community joined in this effort.  Gayle Samford has served as chairperson since its beginning.  She now has a yearly budget of about $3,000.  A good portion of this money is contributed by those who attend the annual community Thanksgiving Service held in the local high school auditorium.  The program is presented by the combined workers of the local churches.

            Just before Christmas, baskets of food, toys, school supplies, and other useful gifts are made up to be distributed to the needy of the community.  Workers from other churches join the workers at UMC to prepare and deliver these baskets.  In 1996, 54 baskets were distributed.

            The program still helps those in need who pass through our community.  In addition, throughout the year this program helps families with their utilities and children with clothes and school supplies.  It also pays for prescription medicines.  This work has helped the needy, and served as a catalyst to draw the local churches together.

            Third, the Joaquin Church joins the Paxton UMC each year for an Easter Sunrise Service.  This too has grown into a community-wide effort.  Judge and Mrs. Floyd Watson, members of the Paxton UMC, allow the Easter Worshipers to use their large gazebo and their home for this occasion.    

            Fourth, each month on the third Thursday, the Joaquin UMC has a birthday party at the Pine Grove Nursing Home (located near Center, TX, about 14 miles away).  The party honors the residents who celebrate their birthdays that month.  Those with birthdays are presented with a bag of assorted gifts, and everyone is served refreshments.  After a worship service of devotions, hymn singing, and prayer, the party closes by singing one stanza of “Bless Be the Tie that Binds.”

            Last year, when the church became aware that the Pine Grove Nursing Home did not have a public address system, it purchased one and presented it to the home.  Since there are many in the home who are hearing impaired, this system makes it possible for them to enjoy all the programs of the home.

            Finally, the Church is currently engaged in raising money to support a Church Scholarship Fund to aid deserving students in financing higher education.

            We know that God has guided us through these One Hundred and Twenty-one years, and we look forward to his continued guidance in years to come.

Written and Updated by
Richard Wharton
April 27, 1997

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