Spring Valley United Methodist Church
From a small band of 42 members in 1957, Spring Valley has grown to a dynamic congregation of more than 2000 members. Serving north Dallas and Richardson communities.
History: For more than three years, Richardson had been growing. Along the northern-most part of Dallas county, less than 20 miles from downtown Dallas, it had changed from a rural town to a growing suburban city. Within the space of three years, population had increased fourfold.
Central Expressway ended at Forest Lane, but Texas Instruments had already moved farther north, not far from Spring Valley Rd. Collins Radio had broken ground for facilities on Arapaho Road, east of the planned route for the expressway. More people moved into the area, following the job opportunities.
Growth was everywhere. Old churches expanded. New churches were formed. And among the new churches was Spring Valley Methodist Church. The year: 1957. More than a decade would come and go before the Methodist Church became the United Methodist Church.
On a rainy Wednesday afternoon in March 1957, Jack Gibson drove to Richardson to meet the small group of young suburbanites who were the nucleus of the new church. A graduate of Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University, recently ordained, Jack had been serving as an associate minister at White Rock Methodist Church in Dallas, Now, Bishop William C. Martin had appointed him pastor of Spring Valley Methodist Church. A brand new church for a brand new preacher.
Plans had been in the making for nearly three months. Since January, Bishop Martin, District Superintendent T. Lee Miller, and the group of organizers had met together many times, practicing that grand old Methodist tradition: discuss and deliberate, discuss and negotiate; make sure that all of the pieces fit together, including a name for the church. When Dr. Miller first heard the name "Spring Valley Methodist Church," he observed that it sounded more like a peaceful country church than a dynamic suburban one. But the name stuck, and everything came together: a congregation, a pastor, a name, a charter. But no place to meet, except in someone's home.
From the beginning they, like many Christians before them, had met in homes. Now they wanted a home for their church, something more than the old house they had rented which stood on property that belonged to Texas Instruments, along the portion of Floyd Road east of the expressway.
March 24, 1957: Mr. Gibson held the first official service of the Spring Valley Methodist Church. Services were held at Richardson Heights Elementary School, on the northwest corner of Belt Line and Floyd in Richardson. Forty-two people joined the church that day. On May 19, the church was officially founded. One hundred and eleven members signed the charter.
Meanwhile the Dallas Board of Church Extension was looking for a site for the new church home. In April 1957, they selected a tract of land near the "Y" formed by Peyton Drive and Spring Valley Road in North Dallas, just west of the Richardson city limit. The Board gave the land to Spring Valley Methodist Church. This property served as a down payment for the first unit of the church building.
Services continued at Richardson Heights Elementary School, which was to be the last temporary home for Spring Valley Methodist Church. Ground breaking for the new building was in March, 1958. The charter closed on June 1 of that year, with 199 charter members. On December 7, 1958, 200 were there for the first worship service int he permanent church home.
When worship began at the present location, Coit Road, Peyton Drive, and Spring Valley Road were all two-lane blacktop roads, as were most of the other roads in North Dallas County in those days. Valley View Lane ran along the approximate route that LBJ Freeway would eventually follow. Due south of the church, just beyond Valley View Lane, was the HIghland Park Airport. On good flying days, especially on Sunday, one could stand outside the narthex, which was on the south side of the building, and watch small airplanes approaching or departing, depending on the direction of the wind. In a way, the church seemed to be isolated. In the country.
Bishop Martin, who spoke on that very first Sunday, could not help but notice the apparent remoteness of the new church as he looked out over the congregation, which almost filled the original sanctuary. Standing at the pulpit, he turned to Jack Gibson, who sat nearby and said, "Jack, I see all of these people but I don't see where they came from." Outside, open fields surrounded the church grounds.
That unit had 6000 square feet of usable space, at a cost of $85,000. It included a sanctuary (which is now Wesley Hall), the church office, and a few classrooms where the children and youth went to Sunday School. Two adult Sunday school classes shared the sanctuary. The Wesleyan Class was one. The other class eventually became the Seekers Class. They sat on folding metal chairs because there were no pews in the sanctuary and no carpet. The entire stage area - the chancel, the altar, the pulpit and the choir loft - was on wheels and, during the next two decades, it was moved from one end of the sanctuary to the other, several times, in an effort to provide the best setting for worship. At first it was a cozy arrangement; but, before long, it became crowded. Membership had grown so much that they needed more space...
...especially the children. Those were the days of the baby boom, and sometimes children seemed to outnumber adults by a sizable margin. It is impossible to guess how many children have been baptized at Spring Valley, how many have received their first Christian nurturing there, how many youngsters have grown into adulthood, how many young people have enjoyed the activities of the church. And so, the first addition to the building was dedicated to the children of Spring Valley Methodist Church. Within five years, a 6300 square foot wing was added at the northeast corner of the original structure, providing classrooms, separated by accordion walls which could be pushed aside to provide a large space for special occasions - occasions like Vacation Bible School. Not far from the church, at the place where Spring Valley Road ended, just west of Hillcrest members had a farm which was the perfect place for Bible School. And, in addition to the church school program for children, a day school was established in facilities rented from the church. This school eventually became what is known today as Spring Valley United Methodist Preschool.
At the same time, other things were happening at Spring Valley. Pews were installed. The church bought its first organ. The first paid choir director was appointed replacing a member volunteer.
In 1962, Jack Gibson received another appointment. In addition to serving as pastor of several churches he also served two terms as district superintendent.
Don Benton, formerly an associate at Highland Park Methodist Church was appointed to serve as pastor of Spring Valley Methodist Church now 435 members strong.
During the next fifteen years, while Don Benton was pastor at Spring Valley, a lot happened. Construction on LBJ Freeway began; and, by the time it was finished, it had crowded Highland Park Airport out of existence. Coit Road got wider, and so did Spring Valley Road, although all six lanes, reaching to Preston Road and beyond, would not be completed until the mid-1980s. Valley View Mall came into being, clearly visible from outside of the narthex on the south side of the building. Along with all of that progress came houses, apartments, and people to fill them, next door neighbors to Spring Valley Methodist Church. These new neighbors, as well as people from rapidly-growing suburbs such as Richardson and Plano, flocked to the church which, along with the mainstream of Methodism, became Spring Valley United Methodist Church. By the mid-sixties, membership had grown to 935. A decade later, the congregation numbered 2266.