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DALLASSept. 22, 2014 – This month, Oak Lawn United Methodist Church will celebrate its 140th anniversary. The church, which was designated a Texas Historic Landmark in 1974 and a National Historic Landmark in 1988, has been a staple of the Dallas community since its founding in 1874 and will commemorate more than a century of service with a weekend full of family-friendly activities.

“We’re incredibly excited to celebrate this huge milestone with our church and community members,” said Rev. Anna Hosemann-Butler, who was appointed Oak Lawn UMC’s first female senior pastor after 19 years in ministry. “Oak Lawn United Methodist isn’t just an integral part of the surrounding community – it’s a part of our city’s history.”

The anniversary celebration will kick off Friday, Sept. 26 with “Jazz on the Corner.” Starting at 7 p.m., the Dallas Jazz Quartet will perform in the church’s historic sanctuary and an assortment of homemade desserts will be served to community members and concert attendees following the performance. The following day, Saturday, Sept. 27, church members will join Rev. Butler on the Katy Trail to hand out water to joggers, embracing the unique, Uptown landscape the trail provides and reaching out to fellow community members and neighbors.

The final day of the celebration, Sunday, Sept. 28, will begin with a special church service at 11 a.m. and include a sermon from Bishop Mike McKee of the North Texas Conference United Methodist Church. The congregation will also keep a 140-year-old tradition alive by singing “Amazing Grace” and offering an opportunity for food and fellowship following the service, as a complimentary lunch will be catered by neighboring restaurant Mattito’s.

“We wanted to celebrate this anniversary in a way that not only recognized the growth we’ve experienced over the past 14 decades but reflected the incredible diversity within the church as well,” Rev. Butler stated.  “We embrace individuals from all backgrounds and walks of life, enriching every aspect of our strong, faith-based community and providing support and a safe place for those who are seeking, struggling or still growing in their faith.” 

Founded on property that was part of a land grant issued in 1846 by Anson Jones, president of the Republic of Texas, the church selected Rev. Marcus Hiram Cullum, a circuit-riding Methodist preacher, as its first leader. More recently, the church’s unique history was chronicled in a book written by a descendent of Rev. Cullum,  the late Charles G. Cullum,  titled “A History of the Oak Lawn United Methodist Church; 1874-1989.”

Today, Oak Lawn UMC’s outreach teams impact more than 7,000 people in various, locally-focused initiatives, which aim to combat hunger and homelessness while providing spiritual support. These initiatives include a licensed daycare center, Gayle’s Kitchen Angels (a program providing more than 100 home-cooked meals weekly to community members in need), holiday programs that provide gifts to underprivileged children, a local farmers market and annual sponsorship of a float in Oak Lawn’s Alan Ross Freedom parade. 

Rev. Butler shared, “Our church is honored to be a part of the Oak Lawn neighborhood. We are thrilled to share the incredible work our members are doing and celebrate faith, fellowship and service with the community as we commemorate the founding of our church. We are already looking forward to serving the people of this neighborhood for another 140 years.”

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