Jo Anne Embleton
Jacksonville Daily Progress
COVE SPRINGS —
An historic Methodist church whose roots trace back to 1856 is officially closed.
Nearly a dozen people attended the final service held Sunday at Cove Springs United Methodist Church, said Pastor Fred Worthen, the last to minister there.
Of those present, “only seven actually were members,” and therefore voted – unanimously – to shut down the church, he said. “It went real smooth – every time you close something down, you'll have a little opposition, but our district superintendent (Rev. Sandra Smith) handled it real nicely.”
Founded as the Sand Hill Methodist Episcopal Church, church trustees purchased a parcel of land at Sand Hill, and the congregation met there several years, until 1879, when it moved to a 10-acre site about a mile south of the present site, according to a state historical marker.
The new site was known as “Camp Ground” and a frame sanctuary was erected there, as was a brush arbor, “built for worship services during the hot summer months,” the marker states.
The one-room church served as a center for education for children of all ages but by 1911, the congregation moved to its current site, a one-acre tract located on County Road 3406.
Another frame sanctuary was built to house the congregation, and in March, 1955, the structure was replaced by a red-brick building that Worthen said featured a 100-seat sanctuary and fellowship area, as well as an adjacent hall also used for fellowship.
The pastor was joined by his wife and several others on Monday in Cove Springs to sift through articles.
Some things, like kitchenware, would used at Mount Selman United Methodist Church – which Worthen oversees and where members of the closed church have been invited to worship – and while others would be left for representatives of the Texas Annual Conference, of which the two churches are part of, to handle.
Other items, which Worthen said donated by members over the years, were requested by their family members as a keepsake.
The church and the one-acre property upon which it sits has been turned over to the Texas Annual Conference, as per church law. Until their trustees decided what is to become of the former Cove Springs Church, they will maintain insurance on the site, and see to its security and physical maintenance, the pastor said.
Sunday's final goodbye was not without sadness or regret, but Worthen said the congregation faced the same decision 10 months ago.
“It's a sad story, but it happens,” he said, reiterating his words from a previous interview; “In Ecclesiastes, we talk about a time to be born and a time to die.
“And sometimes,” he said, “that applies to churches.”