Pampa’s First Denominational Church Was The First Methodist

In the fall of 1905, John V. Thomas organized a Sunday School in the two-room schoolhouse at 513 East Francis. Rev. Chatfield and Rev. Daisy of the Congregational faith began preaching there, and the idea developed that a Union Church could serve an active membership of about sixty, whereas only a few would represent any one denomination.

Photo of Eloise Lane

Eloise Lane

The Union Church thrived for several years before growth of Pampa and fear of losing religious identity caused groups to withdraw and form denominational churches.

The first denomination to organize in Pampa was the Methodist. The five charter members were Oscar and Gertrude Cousins and W.W. and Ella Harrah and their son Lee. The organizing minister was J. A. Laney, pastor at Miami .

With Laney’s help, the charter members secured a vacant building near the Johnson Mercantile Building (location of M.E. Moses at 105 North Cuyler). The first recorded organization of the First Methodist Church was on September 29, 1906, when a Methodist revival marked the initial meeting.

In 1908 a lot was purchased and an additional lot was donated by the White Deer Land Company. At this location, the southeast corner of Foster and Starkweather, a neat one-room building was constructed and painted white. There was a steeple above the entrance cloak room and attractive opaque glass in the windows. A large coal-burning stove stood in the center of the room.

Oscar Cousins was the first Sunday School Superintendent, and Mrs. H.F. Barnhart, who had joined the church with her husband in October, 1906, was one of the first teachers.

In the early part of 1908, Mrs. W.G. (Harriet) Tinsley went about the community in a horse-drawn buggy as she recruited members for a women’s organization. The Woman’s Missionary Society was organized when “there was no other organization in our little town with the exception of the Methodist Church and ‘one another’.”

(The “one other” was the First Baptist Church which had organized on April 6, 1907, with 22 charter members. The First Christian Church was soon to organize on April 4, 1909, with eight charter members).

In 1913, under the pastorate of J.P. Lowry, the one-room church building was expanded by making a L-shape of the original building. The present church site at the corner of Foster and Ballard was purchased in 1924 and a new building was completed in 1928. A major renovation was begun in 1973.

Possibly Oscar Cousins came to the Pampa area in 1903 when his father, became the Carpenter’s House, a non-denominational church.

In the summer of 1940, the W.W. Harrah Class was organized. The name was chosen because W.W. Harrah “was such a very nice man who did lots for the church and for people — including giving Savings Bonds to the young people.”

Lee Harrah, who died at the age of 95 on November 25, 1990, was a life-long member of Pampa ‘s First Methodist Church. No one gave more in time, talent, means and devotion in every area of interest in the church than Lee and his wife, Irene. None were more faithful in attendance.

Modest and unassuming, Lee quietly but firmly influenced the course of the church through all its years of service. His counsel was sought; his advice, though rarely given, was highly regarded. He held many positions of responsibility too numerous to mention.

Irene served in the church nursery from 1928 until 1957, and it was said that she soothed more crying babies than anyone in the church. James “Jimmie” Harrah, son of Lee and Irene, had the distinction of being the youngest baby ever enrolled in the nursery. Irene made out the enrollment certificate before he was born, leaving the name and date which Lee added when Jimmie was only a few minutes old. Irene also spent many years teaching Sunday School classes.

Over 200 Articles, written by Eloise Lane, were published in the Pampa News. These articles may be accessed by clicking on each section below. A list of articles will be revealed that are linked to a page containing the text of the article.

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