By BRIAN SMITH
Aledo United Methodist Church has been serving Eastern Parker County for 135 years. Sunday, Nov. 3, at the corner of Oak and Pecan Streets, a Texas State Historical Marker was unveiled at the site right next to the brick Aledo UMC sign. For many church goers, it’s a sign of how the church has grown since its humble beginnings in 1878 off Kelly Road southeast of town.
More than 150 church goers, city officials, former pastors and friends came out for the dedication on an overcast, cool day. Pastor Jason M. Jones says the marker is a sign of what has been and what will be in the future.
“You can drive down Oak Street. You can drive down Pecan Street, and when you come to the intersection of those you will be reminded of a sign of God’s love for the past 135 years and a sign for another 135 years,” Jones said.
Johnie Gilbert with the Parker County Historical Commission said the marker serves as another reminder of the rich history of churches in the county and the county itself. He said the commission is working on a plan to have all the markers in the county accessible by GPS for tours and to make markers easier to find.
Former pastor John Johnson, who served from 1946-1948, admitted no pastor was less prepared than he was when he arrived but said the congregation welcomed him and his family with open arms. He introduced a number of former pastors, who all had fond memories of the churchgoers and good stories to tell.
One in particular, Kent Kilbourne, who served from 2001-2010, told the story of how the steeple and cross got on top of the sanctuary, saying after he told his congregation there would be a cross on top of the steeple, he was told there was none in the plans.
“I looked over the plans and, sure enough, found there was none. I figured I would go back to the congregation and tell them I was wrong,” Kilbourne said. “When the steeple was delivered, the 18-wheeler came in and inside the steeple, taped to the inside of it, was a cross.”
The application process has gone on since 2010, thanks to the hard work of a dedication committee. Committee chair and church historian Nelda McGlinchey said the whole process has felt like the “gestation of an elephant.” She said the church has served as a schoolhouse and as a Masonic lodge over the years.
“The physical church has changed over the years, but our mission hasn’t,” McGlinchey said. “We still gather each week to love each other and worship God.”
That mission should serve it well for the next 135 years.