Church History

A Brief History of Eastminster

Eastminster Presbyterian Church was born on April 15, 1984 when Calvary Presbyterian Church and Meneely Memorial Presbyterian Church voted to merge into one congregation. The merger was official on May 17, 1984 when Grace Presbytery approved the April 15th action.

Meneely Memorial Presbyterian Church

Although Eastminster is a relatively new church, its roots go back to the 19th century. Meneely Memorial began in 1878 as the Clear Creek Methodist Church. It later became known as Lagow Methodist Church after Richard Lagow, who gave an acre of land for the building of a one-room public school, in which the church was allowed to worship. The church erected a building on Hatcher Street in 1904. When the Methodist Conference relocated the church, a few families stayed at the Hatcher Street location and organized a Union Sunday School. They opened their doors to any denomination who would come and organize a church. A Presbyterian field director accepted the offer and on May 18, 1924, the Union Sunday School was recognized as Lagow Presbyterian Church. In 1951, the Hatcher Street Property was sold. A lot was purchased on Buckner Boulevard and Jennie Lee Lane in 1952. The ground breaking ceremony was held in February 1953. In 1955, the name was changed to Meneely Memorial Presbyterian Church in accordance with the provisions of a $13,000 grant mortgage from the Meneely Church Extension Fund. In 1978, the membership celebrated the 100th birthday of the church.

Calvary Presbyterian Church

Another church began in south Dallas in March 1890 as a Sunday School. This Sunday School was organized into Exposition Park Presbyterian Church in November 1890, a name chosen because of the proximity of the church location at 2nd and Parry Avenues to what is now known as Fair Park. The original wooden structure built in 1890 was destroyed by fire in 1912 and a new brick building was built. This building burned in 1924 and was replaced by a larger building. The changing of the neighborhood and moving of members to other locations led to a decline in the church. The last full time pastor resigned in 1956. In 1958, the members of Exposition Park voted to merge with Calvary Presbyterian Church, located on Military Parkway and Academy Drive.

Calvary Presbyterian Church came into being in a service of worship held on Sunday, January 8, 1950. Property was purchased and a building completed and occupied in 1952. A short, significant paragraph appears in the Session minutes of March 9, 1952: “The question of the Session of Calvary Presbyterian Church meeting with the Session of the Lagow Presbyterian Church to see if a plan for merger could be worked out. It was voted to hold such a meeting when, and if, the Lagow church requested it.” (That meeting never took place, but one for the same purpose was to be held 32 years later!) In 1958, Exposition Park and Calvary merged to become the “new” Calvary Presbyterian Church.

The first worship service of the merged congregation was held in 1958. A congregational meeting was held in 1961 to act on the purchase of a tract of land on Samuell Boulevard near Jim Miller Road from the Texas Baptist Foundation. Ground was broken for the new building in September 1962 and the first service of worship was held on Easter Sunday, April 14, 1963.

Meneely Memorial and Calvary Merger

By 1983 both the Meneely Memorial and Calvary congregations were experiencing positive signs of growth. At the same time, there was a spirit of increasing cooperation between the two congregations due to their close proximity to one another. The Session of Meneely Memorial sent a letter of invitation to merger discussions to the Calvary Session on April 27, 1983. At its May meeting, the Calvary Session unanimously approved the appointment of an interim task force to look into the idea of a merger between the two congregations. An enthusiastic spirit and close friendship quickly developed. The recommendation to the July Session meetings was to proceed with the appointment of a permanent task force to draw up the necessary By-laws and Covenants of Agreement for merger. The report went to the December Session meetings and later to the congregations. An extensive program of information and discussion followed. The actual vote took place on Palm Sunday, April 15, 1984. Calvary had a slightly earlier service and by noon had voted for the merger by an overwhelming majority. Those waiting at the merged site, which had been determined to be the 4.1 acre tract on Samuell Boulevard occupied by Calvary, rejoiced when the telephone call came that the vote had been taken at Meneely and the merger passed by a significant majority. The “Calvary” sign was immediately torn down and temporary “Eastminster” sign erected. From that moment on, the telephone was answered as “Eastminster Presbyterian Church.”

It was on Palm Sunday that the vote for merger was passed. It was on Pentecost Sunday that we first began to worship together as one family. Pentecost Sunday is ordinarily the date of Eastminster’s anniversary celebration. Our delay of one week in 1989 was to allow our fifth anniversary and sanctuary dedication to come on the exact day of the 200th anniversary of the establishment of the first General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church on American soil.

The purpose behind the name “Eastminster” might be recalled here. A “minster” is a chapel or church. The word has a European flavor and seems to have been historically associated with churches of the Reformed tradition. The use of this word puts us into historical and theological context. “East” refers to our position in Dallas County. The accessibility of this site to Interstate 30 and to primary north-south streets makes us truly a regional church. Thus, the whole name “Eastminster” becomes descriptive of who, what and where we are.

May 21, 1989 was the occasion of the dedication of a new sanctuary. Our Building Task Force, organized in 1984, had experienced a longer-than-average existence for a “task force.” The building of a new sanctuary “by and for the merged congregation” was the last of the Covenants of Agreement to be honored. We are told that most mergers of congregations do not work very well. This merger has been a good “marriage.” The people of the two congregations came together very quickly. Their spirit was enthusiastic and their outlook positive. With the dedication of the sanctuary, they had done everything they had promised one another when they voted to begin their life together as a merged congregation five years earlier.

Covenant Union with Colonial Presbyterian Church

In late 1997 approximately one-third of the Colonial Presbyterian Church congregation joined Eastminster through a “Covenant Union”. Colonial was selling their property on Garland Road and dispersing to three congregations with Eastminster being one. Colonial itself was a merged congregation of the former West Shore, a 100+ year-old congregation, and Casa Linda Presbyterian Churches.

THE PRECEDENT METHODIST CHURCH

The Clear Creek Methodist church was organized in the late summer of the year 1878 in the home of Mr. and Mrs. P. T, Benson with 13 members present. This small assembly met for worship in a log cabin on the wooded tract of land which Mr. Benson had recently purchased for a home. The Rev. Brooks was appointed the first minister by the Methodist Home Mission Board.

In 1880, Mr. Richard Lagow gave an acre of land to this little Clear Creek community for a public school. A one-room school house was built and given the name Lagow. The Clear Creek Methodist church, just a babe in Christ, was permitted to worship in this school house, and there changed its name to Lagow Methodist Church.

In the fall of 1880, the North Texas Methodist Conference took over this little church relieving the Home Mission Board as it was poorly financed. Then the Lagow Methodist church greeted its first circuit rider pastor, Rev. A N. Keen.

Other ministers preaching in this church were Rev. Bill and Silas Lagow, both Primitive Baptist ministers and brothers of Richard Lagow, Rev. D. T. Brown, T M. Kirk, George Lewis, John Stuckey, Joel S. Graves, Graham Stokey, Samuel Whitehead, and John Spivey.

MENEELY MEMORIAL PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

In 1904, the congregation erected a one-room church on Hatcher Street. Several years later, the Methodist Church decided to relocate on Fourth and Forest. However, a few families remained at the Hatcher Street location. “We had a Union Sunday School. Mr. Norton, who was the Superintendent of the Sunday School for a long time, suggested that the Sunday School open its doors to any denomination who would come and organize a church. Mr. Webb, as a Presbyterian Field Director, came and started the organization of a Presbyterian church. Mr. Norton was very dedicated to the church and before he died, he willed all of his property to the church.”

“The Methodists offered to sell the property for $600.00. The church borrowed the money from Mr. Fritz Hurling, who was Mrs. Joe Webb’s father, to buy the property. The church had ice cream suppers, quilted quilts, and in many other ways raised the money to pay the debt.”

“The Union Sunday School was officially organized on May 18, 1924 as the Lagow Presbyterian Church by Rev. H.W. Baker of the Exposition Park Presbyterian church. The church was organized with seven charter members who were as follows: Mrs. Phoebe Blandin, Mrs. Sallie Isbell, Miss Vera Isbell, Mrs. Allie Karlen [now Mrs. H. C. Worley], Mrs. Kate Lyles, Mrs. Thelma Harris [now Mrs. Philip Symns], and Mrs. Beulah Cowan [now Mrs. R. O. Lively]. Mrs. J. E. Mildred Harris should be among the charter members. She came in on June 8, 1924, and was not present at the organizing meeting, but she wanted her name added later.”

“Rev. Irving Faust was installed as the first pastor.”

On June 8, 1924, a meeting of the church was held at which time nine members were added to the church register. They were a follows: Mr. Charles Karlen, Mrs. Charles Karlen, Mr. R. N. Grubbs, Mrs. R.N. [Cordia] Grubbs, Mrs. Maude Blevins, Mrs. Katie Cluck, Mrs. Ruth Combs [now Mrs. Dudley Wofford], Miss. Elizabeth Edwards [now Mrs. Charles Moak] and Mrs. Clara Brock.

“Mr. R. N. Grubbs and Mr. Charles Karlen were elected elders and Miss Beulah Cowan was elected as deaconess.” [1924]

On March 31, 1924, Rev. Irving Faust resigned as pastor of the church and his resignation was accepted.

Rev. J. D. Odom began his work with the church June 7, 1925, with seventeen members.

On Sunday morning, April 29, 1928, the members of Lagow Presbyterian church voted unanimously that the word “community” be added to the church name; henceforth, to be known as the Lagow Community Presbyterian Church.

DID YOU KNOW?…May 24, 1931 –The pastor’s salary was set at $62.50 per month.

September 8 - 10, 1931 – Dallas Presbytery held its semi-annual meeting in the church.

On September 9, 1931, the church was dedicated. Dr. Floyd Poe of city Temple Presbyterian Church preached the dedication sermon. Membership was 110.

December 19, 1937. Opening services of the Lagow Presbyterian Church were held. The pastor, Rev. E. F. McGaughey, preached the morning service. Representatives from Dallas Presbytery brought greetings and conducted the dedication service in the afternoon. At this service all of the memorial stained glass windows were dedicated.

April 6, 1941. A Congregational Meeting was held for the purpose of extending the call to Rev Joe M. Russell to serve as pastor.

May 11, 1941. A service of installation was held for Rev. Joe M. Russell, with Rev. Carlton Allen presiding.

September 22, 1948. Rev. Joe M Russell resigned as pastor, effective September 30, 1948.

April 10, 1949. …..Motion was made by Earl Foster and seconded by Mrs. E. C. Clark, that we call Rev. Paul M. Meikle to be our pastor.

July 24, 1949. Congregational Meeting at the close of the morning worship service. Dr. George B. Safford moderating the congregation. Rev. Paul M Meikle offered his resignation, effective August 22, 1949. The resignation was accepted.

August 28, 1949. Congregational Meeting. Dr. Jasper Manton, moderating. Motion was made to call Rev. J. L. Cleveland to be our pastor. Motion was unanimous.

May 25, 1952. Rev. J. L. Cleveland presented his resignation as pastor, effective August 1, 1952. It was accepted.

August 17, 1952. A Congregational Meeting was held for the purpose of extending a call to the Rev. James P. Higginbotham. The call was unanimous.

September 8, 1952. At the regular Session Meeting, R. N. Grubbs made the motion that a request should be sent to Presbytery to appoint a committee to organize the Memorial Presbyterian Church on September 21, 1952. The motion passed.

September 16, 1952. Dallas Presbytery changed the name of the Lagow Community Presbyterian church to Memorial Presbyterian Church.

DID YOU KNOW? That the Memorial Presbyterian Church was moved to temporary quarters in a building on Lake June Road, formerly occupied by the Dallas Stockyards Company?

December 7, 1952. A Communion and Memorial Service was the last service held in the old building at 3126 Hatcher Street.
The church was sold to the Good Street Baptist Church.

DID YOU KNOW? Until a new church could be built, the congregation rented an Auction Cattle Arena? The seats were arranged in circular arena fashion, the piano was in the pit and Mrs. Beulah [Cowan] Lively was pianist, and the pastor stood where the auctioneer used to stand.

DID YOU KNOW? To secure a grant of $13,000 from the Meneely Church Extension Foundation, it was agreed to accept the stipulation that the Meneely family name be incorporated into the name of Memorial Presbyterian Church. This recommendation was adopted by the Congregation Meeting held on February 20, 1955.

January 1, 1959. The Reverend James P Higginbotham resigned as pastor.

June 4, 1959. The Reverend Jerry G. Elliott became Supply Minister.

July 19, 1959. Rev. Jerry G. Elliott was called as pastor of the Meneely Memorial Presbyterian Church.

1960. The south wing of the church was built.

DID YOU KNOW? The Women’s Missionary Association was organized in 1925, but few records were kept. That from 1936 to 1953, the budget was met by “love offerings” and money raised by quilting at $2.00 per spool.

Social Service Work of the Women of the Church. Some of the projects consisted of mending clothing for the children of Reynold’s Home, sewing for Hope Cottage, working at the Lighthouse for the Blind, making masks for the T. B. Hospital and sewing for the Red Cross.

Eastminster Today!

We are excited about the future and growth of our church through new leadership and as our area of East Dallas is revitalized. Come join us for the adventure!

Sunday Schedule

  •   8:30 AM Breakfast
  •   9:30 AM Church School
  • 10:30 AM Fellowship Time
  • 11:00 AM Service for the Lord's Day