Katy’s First United Methodist Church celebrates 125th anniversary milestone

By Susan Rovegno, Publisher
Posted 9/19/23

Katy First United Methodist Church will celebrate 125 years of serving the Katy community, with a special service on September 24th at 11 a.m.  Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey will officiate and a banquet will follow at noon where a special proclamation will be read. 

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Katy’s First United Methodist Church celebrates 125th anniversary milestone


Katy First United Methodist Church will celebrate 125 years of serving the Katy community, with a special service on September 24th at 11 a.m.  Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey will officiate and a banquet will follow at noon where a special proclamation will be read.  The church is located at 5601 5th St, Katy. 

The theme of the months-long celebration is “From Tradition to Trailblazers,” recognizing both the rich tradition of the early settlers to Katy – many of whom were members of the church -- as well as the legacy of service to the community, especially to its schools.

According to a clipping from an article in the April 8, 2011, edition of the Katy News, provided to the Katy Times by the church, the congregation was founded in 1898 when a group of Baptists, Disciples of Christ, Presbyterians, Quakers and Methodists organized a union Sunday school in the home of Wiliam James.  Some time around 1900, the article continues, the Methodists formed their own fellowship.  The Reverend M. Lindsey, who was the first pastor, also served as a “circuit rider,” serving other churches in the area in addition to Katy.  He was assisted by several of the early families of the church, including W. P. Bowers, J. E. Cabiness, E.M. Morton and T. G. Roberts.  Lay members sometimes held worship services when the minister could not attend every Sunday.

In 1903, according to the article, land was secured from W. E. and R. M. Cash and from L. C. Luekel and a foundation for a frame church building was laid.  The sanctuary was completed in 1904 and was the first church building constructed in the town of Katy, at the corner of Avenue A and Fifth Street.  It served the congregation until 1938 when a new sanctuary was built.   The current structure at 5601 5th St, Katy, was completed in 1961.  The Family Life Center was built in 1998 - 1999. 

Around 2008 the church went through a lengthy process to determine whether it should relocate, renovate or rebuild the church facilities.  A Discernment Task Force and churchwide vote determined that the church should remain in its current location and make the facilities more effective for future ministry.  In 2012 the Connection Center was built in order to expand the Welcoming ministry. The project updated technology, video, sound, and lighting as well as making the building more accessible and welcoming. 

“Throughout its history, the First United Methodist Church of Katy has provided significant service and leadership to the community,” said the 2011 article, and that legacy continues to this day.  Ministries of outreach to the community include:

  • Home Delivered Meals started in 1983; by 2010 the church was serving 80 to 90 people in the community who were disabled, homebound, or seriously ill. 
  • Katy Christian Ministries formed in 1984– One of nine local churches that formed KCM food panty in Katy.  The panty operated out of the basement of Katy First United Methodist Church.  Still today the church supports KCM with food drives, Special events: Santa Sleigh, its annual gala and other projects.
  • GriefShare –support group for people in grief.
  • Thanksgiving Day Community Lunch, joining with Antioch Baptist Church when the lunch outgrew their facilities.  With other local churches, the congregations fed around 1000 meals on Thanksgiving Day 2022.
  • Host Daybreak to minister to people who are primary caregivers of people with dementia and to the people they care for.
  • Prayer blankets.
  • Harley’s Helpers Angel Ministry – providing support and encouragement to families of children with cancer.
  • Stephen Ministry providing encouragement to people recovering from crisis.
  • Forever Friends for young adults with learning disabilities.
  • Blood Drives and flu shots.
  • Joyful Noisemakers – older adult ministry to nursing homes.
  • Parkinson’s Therapy.
  • English as a Second Language.
  • Adopt-a-highway clean up.
  • Team of volunteers doing minor repairs for elderly and low-income residents.
  • Angel Tree – Christmas gifts for children of incarcerated parents.
  • Musical Monday Funday.

Other Outreach ministry and mission has included:

  • Pumpkin Patch – United Methodist Men began organizing the Pumpkin Patch on the grounds where the playground sits in 2004 or 2005.  It was started to support the Native American farmers on the Navajo reservation in the Four Corners area of New Mexico and Arizona.  The proceeds supported mission projects and college scholarships.
  • Dinner for Carnival Workers before Katy Rice Harvest Festival.  This was a joint ministry with Grace Fellowship United Methodist Church.
  • UM ARMY – Annual youth mission trip to repair homes of low-income families who are physically and financially unable to repair their own homes.
  • Prison ministry: mentoring and teaching Alpha classes (an introduction to Christian faith) at Carol Vance Unit.  Also leading Kairos weekends in area prisons.
  • Hurricane Rita response in 2005 when the church housed and fed over 200 people who were trapped in the evacuation, using the Family Life Center.
  • The congregation provided assistance, encouragement, and supplies to help start Crossbridge (around 2008) as a new United Methodist congregation in the community. Katy’s First UMC also served as Mother Church for The Commons (2012) as another United Methodist Church in the community.  Neither of them are currently in existence.  Katy’s First UMC also formed a team in 2014 to look for property north of Katy that could become a second campus; this search sparked an interest in the New Faith Communities of the Annual Conference that resulted in the purchase of property off of Grand Parkway north of Katy.
  • Celebration Singers Annual tour ministering to churches and nursing homes every summer.
  • Sponsored Joseph Bradley, the youth Director, to become a missionary in Cambodia.

But the role of the church and its members’ activities in the Katy community doesn’t stop there. The church partners with three elementary schools in the area – Katy, Lindsey and Hutsell – with mentorship programs, shared parking facilities and more. “We are a church that serves with its hands and feet in the community,” said Senior Pastor Mark Kimbrough.  “We have a heartbeat for our schools, and there is such a great need in our community.”

Congregation members have long had an active role in the greater Katy area’s educational scene, from founding schools and implementing art programs to serving as teachers, volunteers and administrators. More than 15 current Katy ISD facilities are named for members of Katy’s First United Methodist Church, including teachers, librarians, administrators, athletic directors, volunteers and even a superintendent.  Mentioned in the church’s YouTube video (youtu.be/gC_thB4uf80) are:

  • Stockdick Junior High
  • Jordan High School
  • Betty Sue Creech Elementary
  • Morton Ranch Elementary and Morton Ranch High School (named for Elbert and Margaret Morton)
  • Beckendorff Junior High
  • Jeanette Hayes Elementary
  • Jean and Betty Schmalz Elementary
  • Jack and Sharon Rhoads Elementary
  • Martha Lopez Aki Early Childhood Intervention Center
  • Zelma Hutsell Elementary
  • Garland McMeans Junior High
  • James E. Taylor High School
  • Robert Wright Rylander Elementary
  • James E. Williams Elementary
  • Cardiff Junior High
  • Franz Elementary

The congregation has also contributed to the leadership of the United Methodist Church, as well.  Ministers who began the process to be licensed or ordained for ministry while attending or after being active at Katy First UMC include: Dorothy Redus (who was second woman ordained in the Annual Conference), Greg Longenbaugh, Judy Cooper, Dean Robinson, Michael Fraley, Shelly Williams, Deborah Proctor Hawboldt, Gary White, Michael Peschke, Lani Rousseau, Joseph Bradley, and Rebecca Hyde Newcomb.

Like all congregations in the Katy area, First United Methodist has experienced challenges – from COVID to the explosive growth of the area.  “We are a church that began as a congregation serving a small rural farming community,” said Kimbrough.  “Everybody knew everybody.” Now, he said, Katy is a part of suburban Houston with a more transient type of resident.  “We are learning to embrace our history while also embracing the hardship of this transition.”

What will the next 125 years bring?  Kimbrough says that the church will remain where it is.  “Location matters,” he said.  And the congregation will continue to serve the Katy area for as long as it is in existence.  “This is a church that loves to meet the needs of this community.  For the next 125 years, it will do what it is compelled to do.  We have learned to love and embrace the diversity of our community.  We are ready to be grateful and thankful.    Now it is our turn with the Katy we have today.  Our best days are ahead of us.”

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