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Our commitment to mission is deeply rooted in our Methodist heritage. John Wesley and his followers were derisively called “Methodists” by their detractors because of the methodical way they went about their business of helping the poor and welcoming all types of people to become a part of God’s family. In this same Spirit, members of First United Methodist Church in Denton have a long history of being on the forefront of social mission and outreach in our community. The following is only an abbreviated account of the ways this church and its members have been the heart of God in the heart of the city.
As a cook at Robert E. Lee Elementary, FUMC member “Ma” Holcomb became acutely aware of the need for after school care for the low-income families living near the church. Moved by compassion, she opened up her own home, located a few blocks from the church, and welcomed the neighborhood children. There she provided a program of arts and crafts, music, games, citizenship training, and Bible stories to more than 80 children every day. This marked the beginning of after school care in Denton.
As the need for low-income childcare became more apparent, members of FUMC were instrumental in organizing the Denton City-County Day School.
The need for low-income childcare continued to rise so members of FUMC helped start Denton Christian Preschool to provide enrichment programs for disadvantaged children.
To help keep the Denton Christian Preschool students warm, FUMC’s Children’s Minister Barbara Hill started the Mitten Roundup in 1985 to provide mittens, gloves, hats, and scarves each fall.
By the mid 80’s the ministers of FUMC were spending large amounts of time trying to meet the needs of the poor in Denton. In response, the church initiated the Manna Program in 1987 to systematically provide social services to Denton’s needy. Originally housed in Flinn Hall of the church, the program grew to include support from a number of area churches. In 1994 the Manna Program became Interfaith Ministries and continues to enable the poor to be self sufficient with dignity.
In 1990 the members of FUMC established the city’s first drop off recycling program. This program was later taken over by the City of Denton.
FUMC members realized the difficulties faced by families with special needs children. In 1997 the church established Friday's Kids Respite Program
Housed in Monroe Fellowship Building this program gave caregivers an evening off by caring for special needs and medically fragile children and their well siblings.
In 2000 FUMC members were instrumental in starting Our Daily Bread. This ecumenical endeavor, housed at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, serves a hot noon meal five days a week to the poor and homeless in Denton.
After traveling to the Czech Republic with Bishop William Oden, former senior pastor Gary Mueller came home and asked the church to consider partnering with a church in that country. The members enthusiastically responded and in 2000 entered into a partnership with the United Methodist church in Trebon, Czech Republic.