First United Methodist Church of Malakoff has been bringing the Word of God to the people of the western part of Henderson County for almost 160 years. The following is an outline of important dates in the history of the church.
1852 – Established by Hezekiah Mitcham
1854 – One-half acre in the Caney Creek area donated by James A. Mitcham, son of Hezekiah Mitcham to erect what is believed to be the first Methodist Church building in Henderson County. Church was known as Mitcham Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church.
1877 – James Mitcham donated another two acres to Mitcham Chapel Episcopal Church South near the present day Malakoff Cemetery to build a new church building.
1883 – The church congregation relocated into the new township to the church’s current site near the railroad that had been built in 1880. The one room church erected on this site faced the railroad and, as did its two predecessors, also served as a school for the community and as the place of worship for all citizens. 1883 General Minutes of the Methodist Episcopal Church South list Rev. Neil Brown as pastor to serve the Malakoff Circuit of the Tyler District, East Texas Conference.
1884 – 36 members left to establish the present day First Baptist Church of Malakoff.
1887 – Rev. Mitcham’s son, Hezekiah Alexander Mitcham and wife Almeda, collected enough funds to purchase a bell for the church. The bell is still being used to this day to announce the beginning of Sunday service.
Women’s Missionary Union was organized by Mrs. J. L. Evans of the Baptist Church and Mrs. G. W. Tidmore of the Methodist Church for women of both congregations. Mrs. Tidmore served as the first president of the organization and her daughter, Mrs. C. A. Riddlesperger served as the second president.
1893 – Trustees of the church purchased a 75 x 100 foot lot for $35 and erected a Victorian style parsonage.
1900 – The Epworth League, the for-runner of the current day United Methodist Youth Fellowship was organized with 13 charter members.
1906-07 the original church building was torn down and replaced by an imposing sanctuary which faced the new growing downtown section of Malakoff. In 1914 two Sunday school rooms were added to the building.
1933 – The church building was totally destroyed by a tornado. The pews and other furniture were moved to the nearby Hawn Lumber Co. shed where the congregation worshiped until another church could be built. Rev. E. L Edgar sacrificed most of his salary towards the building of the new church. Memorial stained glass windows were given by the Tanner, Weir, Mitcham, Tidmore, Anderson, Gentry and Carson families. The Consecration service was held the third Sunday in October 1933. Rev. George Hardy was appointed pastor in the fall of 1934 and oversaw the completion of the building which was dedicated by Bishop A. Frank Smith on June 30, 1935.
1937-38 – The 1893 parsonage was demolished and a more modern home was built.
1951-53 – An education annex was built on land donated by Mr. I. P. Ticmore. A new communion table was given by the lee Riddlesperger family, and a new organ was installed in the Sanctuary.
1952 – The Methodist men were chartered.
1956 – The 1933 building was razed and the present Sanctuary, Educational wing, and Fellowship Hall were built. One of the stained glass memorial windows from the 1933 building was place in the choir loft where it hangs today. The facility, the sixth building since the church started in 1852, was dedicated by Bishop Paul E. Martin in 1963.
1963 – The trustees purchased the lot adjoining the church and built a new four bedroom brick parsonage. During the same year the board voted to carry the message to the Cross Roads community each Sunday at 9:15 a.m.
1965 – Church purchased an adjoining lot which is currently used as a parking lot.
1982 – Sew ‘N Sews was organized under the leadership of Catherine Cole. The organization’s annual bazaar helped provide funds for many different projects over the past 28 years.
1983 – A historical marker was applied for and paid for by the family of Miss Sadie Carson as a memorial for Miss Sadie. That same year, the church began a radio ministry at 9:00 a.m. each Sunday morning. The ministry was discontinued in 2003 due to funding restraints.
1985 – The church received a Texas state license and certification to operate a child development pre-school for ages two months to 5 years. In June of 1985 a playground was built on property west of the children’s building. Also during that time, plans were developed to make expansion and additions to the church facilities.
1994 – Members helped erect the new church for Cross Road UMC after the church was destroyed by a tornado in November of that year.
2002 – Rev. Charles Kimble was appointed to serve the church as it begins its second 150 years of ministry to the Malakoff community. Rev. Kimble is now in his eighth year serving as the pastor of Malakoff First UMC which is second in length of service behind Rev. Hezekiah Mitcham who served the church for thirteen year until his death in 1865.
Information from First United Methodist Church, Malakoff, Texas