HISTORY OF FORREST HEIGHTS
Groundbreaking, June 5, 1950
The Beginning: 1947-1960
The First Unit of Forrest Heights United Methodist Church Building
In 1947 in Lubbock, TX, Forrest Heights United Methodist Church was created when the Board of Missions decided that Lubbock needed a "southwest" church as well as the downtown First Methodist Church and the campus church, St. John's.
Lamar Forrest donated a half-block of land at Elgin and 33rd, in the newly formed Forrest Heights subdivision. The new congregation met in the Plaza Theater at 26th and Boston for the first service May 29, 1949, and for several months thereafter, awaiting what is now the Fellowship Hall and a few offices to be built. Meanwhile, Sunday School classes, the choir, and church officials were organized, along with the Women's Society of Christian Service.
Church Services in the Plaza Theatre at Boston and 26th Street.
The choir while the church services were being held in the Plaza Theater at 26th and Boston.
Fellowship Hall as it looked when it was the Sanctuary in 1951.
The first on-site service was held on Founder's Day, July 29, 1951, with 330 attending Sunday School and more at the worship service.
This picture shows part of the people attending Open House, July 29, 1951, in the first unit.
By 1953, 212 families belonged to FHMC, and Sunday School classes were meeting in members' nearby homes to accommodate the growth. In September, 1954, plans were approved for a much-needed education wing and basement addition, which was completed the next year.
The second unit of Forrest Heights United Methodist Church building
On Founder's Day, May 17, 1959, plans were approved for a 525-seat sanctuary to be built, with another basement containing 10 classrooms and choir rooms. The 14,000 square foot addition cost $275,000 with furnishings, bringing the completed building's total cost at $525,000.
The Sanctuary (Fellowship Hall) was overflowing on the 10th Anniversary held in May 17, 1959.
The present Forrest Heights United Methodist Church building
The sanctuary addition was built by Hap Padgett, with architectural plans by Atcheson, Atkinson, and Cartwright of Lubbock. The Last Supper altarpiece was carved by John M. Stalker.
Other biblical representations were a large lighted wooden cross above the choir loft, a large stained-glass window at the south end of the sanctuary representing Christ, the Holy Spirit, and two disciples, smaller stained-glass windows in the east and west foyers, and 10 stained-glass windows on the east and west walls depicting shields of the other ten disciples. Space was created to house an organ; funds were obtained in 1969. The tower contains a pastor's retreat. The completed Sanctuary was opened formally on April 3, 1960.
Growth and Community Impact: 1960-1970
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, FHUMC grew to more than 1,000 members and sponsored several choirs, the Child Care Day Center, vacation bible schools and camps, scout organizations, regional UMC conferences, musicals, holiday events, charity drives, and general fellowship, depending on the hard work of its members to complete projects thoroughly. The surrounding neighborhood benefitted greatly from these events, and membership continued to grow. However, with the addition of four new UMC churches in close proximity to FHUMC during the 1960s, membership and attendance began to level off.
One original and notable program occurred in 1968--Fine Arts in the Church. Its two-fold purpose was to introduce art, music, drama, and dance to those who might never have had the opportunity to attend performances, and to encourage attendance at FHUMC with fine arts programming. The performances were well attended by members as well as local residents and were featured in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.
The church's name changed in 1968 from Forrest Heights Methodist Church to Forrest Heights United Methodist Church to reflect the worldwide union between the Evangelical United Brethren with the Methodist Church.
Funds for an organ to fill the space in the sanctuary were obtained in 1969; the first organist was hired in September.
In 1970, FHUMC contributed to the relief efforts in Lubbock's recovery from the May 11 tornado which devastated east Lubbock. Already a civil defense shelter equipped with cots, blankets, food and water in the basement, FHUMC was designated as a first aid center to aid with the injured coming in from all areas of Lubbock. Hitting the city at 9:45 p.m., the tornado left residents and visitors alike without clothing, power or transportation. FHUMC youth used station wagons to transport the injured to area hospitals while those not as badly off stayed for days in the basement shelter.
Cumberland Presbyterian Church was completely destroyed in the tornado. Its congregation was invited to share facilities with FHUMC; CPC held services and school during alternate hours on Sunday with FHUMC for a year while CPC built a new building on Indiana Avenue. In 1971, FHUMC members were honored to be at the dedication of the new building.
Outreach and Renewal: 1970-1999
In 1971, FHUMC joined "Contact Lubbock," a 24-hour telephone ministry. Using home phones fitted with amplifiers, shut-ins could list to FHUMC Sunday morning services. This continued until 1976, when FHUMC began broadcasting 30 minutes of its Sunday service over KLLL. Rev. McBrayer also encouraged elderly parishioners to be more active in the church and formed the VIPS (very important persons) group for educational and recreational fellowship. It met once a month for several years.
Because of the unification of the Methodists and the Brethren in 1968, plans began to unite all of the women’s groups into one organization. The Women’s Society of Christian Service and the Wesleyan Service Guild joined to form the United Methodist Women in 1973. The official change was celebrated on Feb. 18, 1973 at the morning worship service.
Another group which continues to serve FHUMC is the United Methodist Men. These lay men have monthly breakfast meetings, cook for the ladies on Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, raise funds for various projects for the church, provide the “muscle” for church dinners by setting up tables and chairs for these and other events.
The United Methodist Men
Throughout FHUMC’s history, the youth organizations helped with outreach to young and old. They created money-making projects to fund their activities, organized field trips in Lubbock and around the state, held parties for the children at Easter and Christmas, sang in the youth choir, and held graduation banquets in the Fellowship Hall. Several students held offices at the district level. In 1981, their efforts were recognized when they were named one of the top 12 youth groups in the nation.
After many years, the church was able to acquire the adjacent two lots to the west of the Fellowship Hall and expanded its parking area. The new lot was consecrated in October, 1982. Also in the 1980s and 1990s, after church finances improved, the sanctuary received new red hymnals, while the rest of the building was repainted and re-carpeted. Due to recent burglaries, an alarm system was installed in 1988. Church records were computerized. In 1990, the heating and cooling units were replaced in the education wing, while the sanctuary AC was replaced in 1995. A small fire did no structural damage but required significant cleaning of the smoke damage. Restrooms were renovated and made accessible. The stage of the Fellowship Hall was moved from the south end to the north end (the altar archway remained at the south end).
During Rev. David Robertson’s years in the 1990s, one tradition started which continues today: the Birthday/Anniversary Church. On the last Sunday of each month, members who have had a birthday and/or an anniversary are invited to come to the altar for the congregation to sing to them. The celebrants are invited to place thanks offering inside the miniature Mission Church which is on the altar. It has beautiful stained-glass windows and is lit from within. The offerings are used for various conference commitments for the year.
In 1994 a handbell choir was started which continues to play about six times a year at the Sunday morning service as well as the Christmas Eve service. Members of the choir as well as youth are recruited to play for the congregation which thoroughly enjoys and appreciates their efforts.
As part of its outreach ministry, FHUMC participated in Habitat for Humanity in 1994. Several members of the congregation helped, but on Sept. 18, 1994, rains were predicted before the roof was completed. After a Sunday morning service plea for help, 12 members completed the roof in one afternoon! Lightning finally forced them to quit. On Oct. 16, the house was finished and the more than 40 members who had built the house as well as many members of the congregation gathered to consecrate the home.
Another part of the outreach effort was a Hispanic Ministry on Sunday afternoons and a Sonshine class for persons with special needs. A new sound system for the sanctuary included hearing aids for those needing amplification. The UMW sewed quilts and collected food for the South Plains Food Bank.
Foreign missions also were an integral part of FHUMC outreach. The UMW made dolls for children in Mozambique, and the Heifer Project was introduced to provide crops and animals for third-world countries. In 1995, an ark was built in the sanctuary; at 16 feet long, it covered most of the foyer. Each Sunday the ark was moved to a different location and a weather report given. Stuffed animals were delivered two-by-two, and families brought miniature arks filled with donations for the Heifer Project.
FHUMC continued its service to the Forrest Heights community and congregation through the 1990s. The church celebrated its fiftieth anniversary on May 15-16, 1999 with receptions for former pastors and spouses, charter and founding members, and all present members and friends of the church; a Wesley Sunday School Class reunion; and a special Sunday worship service with preaching by retired District Superintendent Dr. Clifford Trotter and a catered luncheon following.
Over the past 20 plus years, Forrest Heights UMC has continued to have a strong presence in the Tech Terrace neighborhood, offering a traditional worship experience and a place where nearby groups can meet and fellowship with each other.
The church celebrated its 70th anniversary in May 2019 with an open house, special worship service and meal. More than 150 people attended, including Lubbock Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Griffith, who delivered a special proclamation from the City Council recognizing the important moment in the life of the church. The service was also attended by District Superintendent Don Boren and several former pastors.
The 70th Church Anniversary in May, 2019
A number of outstanding pastors have served the church during the past two decades, including Namiqa Shipman (1998 - 2000) and Ross Dunn (2008 - December 2012). Other to serve during that time are Vergil Ichtertz, Bruce Parks, Wayne Salguero, Milton Chester and Michael Kirkwood.
The Rev. Don Holliday was the pastor of Forrest Heights from Jan. 2013 through June 2016 as part of a two-point charge that included Agape UMC (also in Lubbock). Doug Hensley was appointed to the Forrest Heights pulpit in June 2016 and continues to serve the church.
The church had a long and deep connection to scouting, thanks to great members such as Robert Clark, Bill Hewitt, Dave Swartz and others, who devoted much of their time to mentoring and teaching young boys.
Forrest Heights UMC is one of only two churches (the other is Westminster Presbyterian) located within the historic Tech Terrace neighborhood. A mile from the Texas Tech University campus, it has enjoyed a long partnership with the Tech school of music and continues to sponsor scholarship singers as part of its choir and music ministry.
To date, 23 ministers have served as pastors to the FHUMC flock, with the able assistance of assistant ministers and lay leaders:
1949 -1953 Rev. Burgin Watkins
1953 -1957 Rev. DeWitt Seago
1957 - 1961 Rev. W.A. Appling
1961 - 1965 Rev. Alby J. Cockrell
1965 - 1973 Rev. O.A. McBrayer
1973 - 1974 Rev. Jim T. Pickens
1974 - 1975 Rev. Samuel P. Auslam
1975 - 1978 Rev. Marvin James
1978 - 1981 Rev. Albert Lindley
1981 - 1986 Rev. Frank Oglesby
1986 - 1990 Rev. Gene Wisdom
1990 - 1993 Rev. Morris Poole
1993 - 1995 Rev. David H. Robertson
1995 - 1998 Rev. Wesley Brown
1998 - 2000 Rev. Namiqa Shipman
2000 - 2003 Rev. Vergil Ichtertz
2003 - 2003 Rev. Bruce Parks
2003 - 2004 Rev. Wayne Salguero
2004 - 2005 Rev. Milton Chester
2006 - 2007 Rev. Michael Kirkwood
2008 - 2012 Rev. Ross Dunn
2013 - 2016 Rev. Don Holiday
2016 - Present Rev. Doug Hensley