Organized in 1913, the Munger Place United Methodist Church has been a powerful symbol of hope in our community.

Bishop E.D. Mouzen and other residents made a survey of locations and decided the plot at Munger Boulevard and Eastmoreland Avenue, now Bryan Street, would be the strategic location to build a new church.

The plot was purchased from Robert S. Munger for $7,500, of which $650 was paid in cash. The balance was paid in five notes of $1,375 each.

The Rev. Lawrence L. Cowen was the first pastor, and the organization began before it had a building and without a dollar. The first meeting of the church was held in the O.L. Hitchcock home Feb. 8, 1914.

There was opposition to locating a church in the residential district, especially since the City had approved the plot for a park. But the church leaders pursued and eventually received consent from the protesting owners.

On July 5, 1914, a temporary sanctuary was completed and used for public worship. The sanctuary was built to look like a house because it eventually was to be used as a parsonage. A church parking lot now occupies the space where this building stood.

Today, Rev. Paul Escamilla leads worship in a sanctuary completed in 1926 with beautiful stained glass windows that shed light on the congregation.

The church also houses the Wilkinson Center, which helps disadvantaged families. During December, the center is unusually busy bringing hope for the holiday season. Director Nona Bickerstaff and her staff of volunteers depend upon donations to provide funds, food, clothing and presents for children and their parents.

The center is a joint ministry of Munger Place United Methodist Church and the East Dallas Cooperative Parish – a nonprofit conglomeration of East Dallas Christian churches that assisted more than 21,000 people in 1995. To make a donation to the center, call 821-6350.

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