New Hope Presbyterian Church is moving locations after 70 years

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WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Fain Presbyterian Church, now known as the New Hope Presbyterian Church is moving locations after 70 years of worship at the same location on Speedway.

The Rev. Don Stribling and the congregation of New Hope Presbyterian Church will worship for the final time at 2201 Speedway on Sunday, June 21st, with a de-consecration of the Fain building at 8:30 a.m.  This special event will be held on the front steps of the church building.  The community is invited to attend this landmark event.  Attendees are asked to bring folding chairs for this service, which will celebrate the history of the congregations that have met in this marvelous space.

For 70 years, Presbyterians have gathered at the corner of Martin and Speedway to worship God and celebrate life in the graceful, white neo-gothic building designed by the noted church architect J. Murrell Bennett of Dallas, Texas.  For most of these seven decades, Fain Memorial Presbyterian Church, later Fain Presbyterian Church, congregated in the building.  In 2015 the Fain membership invited the newly organized New Covenant Presbyterian Church to share its space, and in 2017, the two congregations merged to form New Hope Presbyterian Church (USA).  As with the parent churches, New Hope is dedicated to welcoming any and all to worship and serve.

The Rev. Dr. Daniel M. Garza served New Hope as interim pastor, followed by its current pastor the Rev. Donald Stribling.  The new congregation maintained the strong music program both churches had enjoyed before the merger, presenting two Christmas Oratorios, inviting MSU students to sing in the choir, and adding a number of talented soloists and accompanists to play.  Mission outreach was enhanced, and the kitchen was bustling with preparations for the food distribution program, receptions and special dinners, and Wednesday night suppers.  However, continuing deterioration of the building’s foundation made it imperative the congregation find a new place in which to worship.

The search was fruitful, and New Hope is moving its ministry to 1701 Enterprise in the growing suburb west of Sheppard Air Force Base.  The church sold the property at 2201 Speedway, but moved its worship services into the fellowship hall, remaining faithful to the tradition of presbyterian ethics, governance, and love for all God’s creatures.  The Covid-19 Pandemic forced New Hope to move its Wednesday evening and Sunday morning fellowship to Zoom and its formal Sunday morning to its website at newhopepresbyterian.org.  The congregation will continue to meet electronically until its new space is renovated and ready to serve as a place of worship, meeting, and fellowship.

The cornerstone for Fain Memorial Presbyterian Church was laid on November 24, 1948 with the Rev. Dr. Robert L. Cowen, Pastor, leading the service.  The first service in the new building was the first day of 1950 in the educational wing of the building, and that practice continued until March 19th when the sanctuary was completed and consecrated.  Once again, Dr. Cowan led the service but earlier pastors of the congregation, which had originated at the corner of 10th and Travis in 1891 also participated.

True to its gothic origins, the edifice features pointed arches, lancet windows, steep roof, spires on the entry and the tower, and the spectacular lead flèche, which is capped with an elegant crown—all these elements draw the attention of mortals to the heavens and to Christ.  Artisans incorporated Christian symbols into the stone, brick, stained glass, and metal of the façade of this beautifully sculpted structure.

The lancet windows and the large rose-window were designed, fashioned, and installed by The Judson Studio, one of the premier stained glass galleries in the U.S. for over a century.  The rose window bears the initials of the artists who designed and fabricated the stained glass.  

A three-story west wing was added to the original structure about the time of Fain’s Centennial.  The wing housed offices and meeting rooms on the first floor, offices and meeting rooms above, and a gymnasium and youth rooms in the basement.

A service dedicating the building to the glory of God as a House of Worship was held in 1964 when the mortgage for the land and building was paid fully.  The small congregation that had been meeting on H Street north of the high school had continued to grow under the leadership of Dr. Cowan and the new pastor Dr. Leland McDuffie (Mac) Kennedy.  James W. Mosley was the pastor for the Dedication Service, but Dr. Kennedy offered the sermon.  The Dedication Prayer read during the service had been written for the original ceremony in 1950 by Marybeth Little; the choir was directed by Dr. Kent Hughes.  The de-consecration ceremony on Sunday will mirror that earlier ceremony.

Pastors who have served Presbyterians at this site since the dedication include James W. Mosley, 1964-1968 [Pastor during at the time of the Dedication]; John Brand, 1968-1969; W. Ned Hollandsworth, 1969-1977; Harry Sarles, 1977-1978; W. Jackson Beyerly, 1978-1979; Harry Sarles, 1979-1980; James Aiken, 1980-1980; Michael Parsons, 1980-1986; Leland McD. (Mac) Kennedy, 1987-1987; P. Keith Hill, Pastor, 1987-1997; John Minihan, 1998-2000; Ray Kretzschmer, 2000-2001; John Carswell, 2001-2007; R. Rhodes Stipp, 2007-2010; David Crawford, 2010-2016; Daniel M. Garza,  2017-2018; Donald Stribling, 2019-present.

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