By CAROL FERGUSON
The Wesley Chapel CME Church family will celebrate the church’s 135th anniversary at 3 p.m. Sunday.
According to information provided by Wesley members, however, the church may be even older than 135 years.
“Wesley Chapel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church of Greenville is one of the oldest churches in the East Texas Conference, and was said to be organized in 1878 ... But by discovery and noted by the Clark Street Christian Church of Greenville’s history, Wesley Chapel CME Church and Clark Street Christian Church worshipped in the same building at a site one-half mile from the Greenville courthouse, known then as “Across the Thicket,” within the years of the organization of the Clark Street Christian Church which was founded in 1865. .But now the question must be asked, could the common grounds between Wesley and Clark Street possibly make Wesley’s church anniversary older?
“The only known written history of Wesley Chapel CME Church today was first written in 1985 in its dedication souvenir journal compiled by the church history committee consisting of church members Mrs. Helen Sanders, Mrs. C. Tave and the late Mrs. L.J. Owens.”
Most of the church’s recorded history begins in 1918 when the church had moved to 3111 Johnson, under the pastorate of Rev. N.M. Means. The basement was built with pitched facilities, primary church school classrooms, rostrum remodeled and new furniture and carpet added under the leadership of Rev. W. Travis Moore.
When the City of Greenville created the Johnson Street overpass, the church was forced to move, and the present site is 2100 Kennedy. The land was donated by J. Campbell Murrell. Groundbreaking services were Oct. 7, 1984, with Rev. V. McCalister in charge.
Three of Wesley Chapel CME’s own members became licensed preachers who currently pastor their own churches: Rev. Deborah Hoskins, Rev. Fergus Jacobs and Rev. Gailyn McCurdy. The kfirst female pastor in charge of Wesley was Rev. Melvina Evans-Darty (2004-2006).
The roster of former pastors of Wesley Chapel CME includes Rev. N.M. Means, Rev. W. Travis Moore, Rev. J. Henry Alston, Rev. D. McAllister, Rev. S. Mallard, Rev. D. Williams, Rev. L. Murray, Rev. H. Henry, Rev. E. Harris, Rev. O.H. Robinson, Rev. V. McCalister, Rev. L.Z. Houston, Rev. J.T. Etchison, Rev. E.E. Dorn, Rev. G.A. Brown, Rev. M.C. Perry, Rev. W.T. Wilkins, Rev. P.A. Freeman, Rev. James A. Hill Sr., Rev. Kenneth Cain, Rev. Phillip Ward, Rev. Norris Curry, Rev. Eric T. Martin and Rev. Melvina Evans-Darty. Current pastor is Rev. Harold Wright.
The Missionary Society has always played a significant role in the church’s history. Remembered missionary presidents are Nina Fowler, Shirley Collins and Mamie P. Jones. The current president is Joanne Wakefield who became president in 1986 and has faithfully served longer than any other missionary president.
Wesley’s current presiding bishop is Bishop Henry Williamson, and presiding elder is Elder Herbert Scott.
Regardless of the exact number of years since its founding, Wesley Chapel CME has played a vital part in many lives as it continues to serve the community.
The public is invited to the celebration.