Our Story

Church_Old Exterior with Steeple

1909: Laurel Heights Founding

Laurel Heights United Methodist Church was founded in San Antonio, Texas on November 28, 1909. It grew from a need to establish a church within the new development of Monte Vista through the foresight of Mrs. J. O. Terrell, wife of Judge Terrell of San Antonio. The City Mission Board and Church Extension Society of San Antonio, the predecessor of the present Mission Board of San Antonio, purchased the northeast corner of West Woodlawn and Belknap Place for $8,000. J. D. Young was appointed as the first pastor of the church and very soon he was known affectionately to all as “Jim Dandy” Young. Meetings were initially held in a frame structure known as “The Tabernacle”. The Woman’s Missionary Society (now the United Methodist Women) was organized on November 28, 1909 with eight members.

1912: Sanctuary Built

On October 18, 1910, the Mission Board conveyed the property to the Board of Trustees and a charter to incorporate the Church was applied for later. The pastor moved the first shovel of dirt on May 1, 1911, and Bishop E. D. Mouzon laid the corner stone June 23, 1911. Construction was completed, and the Church was ready for the service on Easter Sunday, 1912, with Bishop S. Key preaching the sermon. The architect was Atlee B. Ayres, noted San Antonio architect, and the contractor Jack Haynes. The Epworth League (forerunner of the current Youth Group) was organized in 1912 with 25 members.

1917-1918: World War I

Laurel Heights practically adopted the 2300 soldier at the Balloon School at Camp John Wise (McCullough Ave and Olmos Dr). Wednesdays the young people of the church provided entertainments at the camp, Thursdays were designated for sewing and mending, and Friday nights the church was thrown open to the soldiers who came in large numbers.

1927: Construction of Education Building

UMC Early Days

With a Sunday School enrollment of over 600 and 45 teachers, the church needed a new Education Building. In 1927 Construction began on a new 3 story building (with roof garden) designed by Adams and Adams. At the same time, the church undertook renovations to the Sanctuary building. The tower with its wooden spire, which had to be removed due to structural issues, was extensively remodeled and renamed the Moore Memorial Tower.

1936: The Messenger

The first issue of the Laurel Heights Messenger was mailed to church members on December 20, 1936. [The Messenger continues to be published today. Bound copies of all the back issues are available in the church library.]

1940s: Local and International Mission Work

In 1941 the Church sought to expand its support for local and international mission work beyond its historical obligations. The Local Welfare Committee’s first two recommendations were that church members be given “an opportunity to contribute to the needs of unfortunate people in the city” and that Laurel Heights should take particular care of the struggling Whosoever Mission founded by Rev. and Mrs. J.G. Pollard. In 1945 Laurel Heights contributed $10,000 to building the Bishop’s home and office in Mexico City, which were completed and dedicated in May 1946. During this time the church also supported Rev and Mrs. Bernardo Castex, missionaries in Chile, and William B. and Dorothy Smith, missionaries in Bolivia.

1950s: Defining Traditions

The 1950s saw the establishment of many programs and traditions that have come to define Laurel Heights today. In 1952, the Weekday Kindergarten or School in Christian Living (he Laurel Heights Weekday School) was established. In 1954 the Aeolian-Skinner Pipe Organ and an Echo organ were installed. In 1955 construction began on an expanded Educational and Activity Building (the gym and Weekday School Building).

1970s: More Beginnings

1975 was a significant year in several regards. The vibrant inter-faith group Super Adults began as a ministry to loneliness at the suggestion of Henry Holloway. The Weekday School hired its first full-time director, Betty Thomas. Sunday morning Fellowship time between the 8:30 service and Sunday School began. In 1976 the church purchased Schulmerish handbells and the Handbell Choir formed on May 21, 1976. There was also a significant renovation of the Sanctuary and beyond in 1977-79 that saw the church worshiping in the Dining Room.