What Happened in 1961?

I have been doing a little Oak Haven church history research. As the longest meeting religious organization in Irving, Oak Haven can trace its roots to a non-denominational Sunday school class meeting under a brush arbor in the 1880s. It’s a great story with, I think, modern ecumenical implications. Oak Haven started as that first group then formed into Hawk’s Chapel Methodist Church. In the 1930s the church changed its name to Union Bower Methodist Church and eventually, after moving to its current location in 1961, changed its name to Oak Haven Methodist Church. Of course, there are a lot of details missing from this meager account. After all, this wasn’t meant to be a 7-9 page paper written for a United Methodist history class (or, this wasn’t THE 7-9 page….).

I would love to help fill in some blanks in Oak Haven’s historical records. That is an item I am putting on the “Pastor’s Wish List” in this month’s church newsletter—a update historical record of the church. A lot needs to be filled in about those early days, but just as much, and maybe even a lot more, needs to be put together from the time of the final move (1961) up until today. We sort of dropped off our record keeping skills. There is a discussion I would like to have with some of the members that remember when “Oak Haven” came to be.

An obvious consideration to have when forming a building project is how many people will be using the facility. The church opted to construct a two-story education building followed by either a sanctuary or gymnasium (with additional meeting space) depending on the specific needs of the congregation.

What’s interesting to me is the thought behind the project. The city of Irving experienced substantial growth in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s. Oak Haven and other churches as well saw some of that growth in swelling of their membership statistics. In fact, in planning for the new building project, it was estimated the membership would either be as low as 800 or as high as 1,000 (the building committee eventually planned for 900). In either scenario that would have been a more than 100% increase in membership!
If you know Oak Haven you know what's wrong with this picture.  Any guesses?

The conversation I would love to have is this: What happened? We never had that many people and neither the sanctuary nor gymnasium was ever built. That may read negative, but if you know me you know it’s not. It seems to me there could be a lot of learning taken away from that conversation.

Would we look to the pastors? Would we look at who moved away? Were there issues that came about? Did we realize having that many people wasn’t a good idea? What happened? You tell me.

Stay blessed…john

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