On August 6, 1885, an outdoor revival was held in the town of Bullard, Texas just west of the railroad tracks near the northwest corner of Railroad (now Phillips) and Emma Streets. At this meeting, the Methodist Episcopal Church South at Bullard was officially organized by the Reverend Thomas Trusvan Booth with 11 members. These charter members included Mr. and Mrs. John Henry Bullard (for whom the town was named), Mr. Samuel G. and Mrs. Etta Bullard Langley, Miss Minerva I. McLeroy (later Mrs. Joe Gillespie), Grandma Snow (Elizabeth Key Snow) and Mrs. William B. (Dixie Oliphant) Urban.
During the winter of 1885, Mrs. Anna Douglas (wife of Joseph P. Douglas) donated the 2-story church building located near the cemetery at Etna. It was her desire that it be utilized for worship by all denominations as no church had yet been built in the new town of Bullard. The building was moved from Etna and placed on a lot just east of where the Bullard Volunteer Fire Department is now located. That Christmas, the newly founded Methodist Church held its first Christmas service.
Early members of the Methodist Church at Bullard included many of the oldest families of the area. Following are but a few of the blessed souls who not only helped to establish the church but also to grow and thrive: Mr. and Mrs. Hezekiah J. Wilson, Mrs. John Terrell, Mrs. Jim Hinds, Mrs. Mattie Cole Tarrant, George Roper, Valcour L. Oliphant, Dr. and Mrs. Robert H. Hunter, Mrs. C. G. Roberts, Mr. Solomon B. and Mrs. Bennie Gardner and the Sackett and Rather families. Wiley N. “Doc” Cheek and “Uncle” Johnnie (John Wesley) Phillips were known to work in their fields in the Oak Grove Community during the day and then walk the 3 miles to Bullard to conduct evening prayer meetings. Uncle Johnnie was also very active in helping to organize the church. Mrs. Etta Bullard Langley was organist for many years and directed the music of the church while Mr. Langley served as steward and trustee.
In 1901, a new parsonage in the Victorian style was constructed on property donated by Dr. and Mrs. Hunter. This parsonage was located on the west side of Hunter Street and would serve the church and generations of pastors and their families. Although no longer owned by the church, it is in good condition and still standing today.
The Bullard Methodist Church is greatly indebted to these early pastors who faithfully served and toiled diligently to bring the Lord to the people of Bullard. Early pastors were: Thomas Trusvan Booth 1885-87, “Uncle” Caleb H. Smith 1888, Thomas Trusvan Booth 1889-92, William Sproule 1893-94, James “Jim” M. McCarter 1895-96, Major Isaiah Brown 1897, Arthur Downs 1898, “Uncle” Caleb H. Smith 1899, Benjamin Calhoun Ansley 1900-01, Wick Griffin 1902, E. W. Potter 1902-03.
A GROWING CHURCH:
The 1890’s and first years of the 20th century witnessed the continued growth of the town of Bullard as well as the congregation of the Bullard Methodist Episcopal Church South. It soon became apparent the old church building that had been moved from Etna and served so many for so long was no longer adequate to accommodate the growing number of worshipers. In 1903, Valcour L. Oliphant, Samuel G. Langley and Solomon B. Gardner, trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, Bullard, Texas, purchased two lots from the St. Louis Southwestern Railway Company with the intent of building a permanent church home. These lots were located on Rather Street just west of Railroad (now Phillips Street) near where the current sanctuary stands. Construction began on the new church building in 1903 and was completed late that same year. Outside, the white frame building had a steep-pitched roof, a bell tower and steeple. A row of 5 tall, slender windows lined each side of the building with a larger double-window at the front near the entrance. Inside, a large sanctuary comfortably housed the growing congregation with several Sunday school rooms available for classes of all ages and coal heaters were installed throughout the building. The Methodist Church at Bullard was ready to enter the next phase of its history – that of a growing church.
In 1926, Rev. Cravy began planning the construction of a new church building and money raising projects were started. Unfortunately, while serving as pastor for the church, George C. Cravy passed away on May 31, 1927. Even though construction on the new church would not begin for another two years, Rev. Cravy deserves credit for his vision and tireless efforts to make the new building a reality for the members of the Bullard Methodist Church.
A new brick structure was constructed in 1930 following demolition of the frame church building. It stood at the same location where our present church now stands. The church formally opened on Sunday, March 23, 1930. Aside from the spectacular windows, the new building was large enough to handle future growth and was modern in every sense of the word.
Another generation of members at the Bullard Methodist Church was again indebted to faithful and motivated pastors who preached the Gospel and diligently served a grateful congregation. Names and dates of these servants were: Andrew Asbury Wagnon 1904, J. W. Kelly 1905, B. W. Allen 1906-07, E. A. Rippey 1908, Mark Terrell 1909-11, Oscar W. Hooper 1912-13, C. E. W. Smith 1914-16, Charles M. Kennedy 1916, Edward Carroll Escoe 1917, Joseph William Treadwell 1918-20, Wiley F. Weeks 1921, Charles W. Hughes 1922, George Calvin Cravy 1923-27, Richard B. Moore 1927-28, Thomas Pierce Hendrick 1929-30.
Pastors serving from the end of World War II through 1981 were: Asbury Lenox 1945-46, Clyde Cecil Shoemaker 1946-47, Daniel Edward Sneller 1947-48, Charles Ray Woodard Sr. 1948-49, Bill Eugene Leediker 1949-51, Kenneth Darwin Summy 1951-53, William C. Jones 1953-54, James Vernon Fincher 1954-55, Paul Ilif Moon 1955-56, William Edwin McDaniel 1956-58, John Bailey Rozell 1958, G. L. Glasgow 1958-59, Jackson Lorrimor Crow 1959-60, Lawrence W. Spradley 1960, H. Gene Smith 1960-61, Joe McLeod 1961-62, H. Lee McGinnis 1962-64, Earl Paul Cantrelle 1964-65, Charles Edward Shine 1965-67, Ivy Milton Johnson 1967-68, John McAulsy Anderson 1968-69, Murray Robertson 1969-72, Ulysses Stanley Goad 1972, David Albert Russell 1972-73, Richard Allen Burnham 1973-74, Gary Richard Curry 1974-77, Larry Gilbert 1977-78, Thomas Hanson Chamness 1978-81.
In 1968 The Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church consolidated to form the United Methodist Church and at that time, The Bullard Methodist Church became The Bullard First United Methodist Church.
A LEAP OF FAITH:
In June, 1981, with only 97 members, a new era in the history of the Methodist Church in Bullard began when the Reverend Cecil D. Harper, Jr. became pastor. Faced with problems resulting from years of declining membership, Reverend Harper began implementing an ambitious plan of evangelism, service and growth.
The change from a more or less informal worship service to a slightly formal yet warm and reverent one was appreciated by loyal, long-time members and new members alike. Also, with oversight from Reverend Harper and excellent lay leadership, Sunday school classes were added, the United Methodist Youth Fellowship began to grow, the administrative board became much more active and the United Methodist Women continued to spearhead some of the many outreach programs of the church.
In 1982, the Bullard First United Methodist Church was awarded the Copeland Evangelism Award by the Texas Annual Conference. This honor is awarded for outstanding leadership in evangelism and is certainly a testament to the dedication of both the staff and congregation. Reverend Harper served as pastor until 1988. His tenure as pastor witnessed sustained growth and by the time of his retirement, congregational membership was at almost 300, church facilities had been expanded to include a new fellowship hall and classrooms, and The Bullard First United Methodist Church was a leader in evangelism and community outreach in southern Smith County.
In 1988, Morris Matthis was appointed pastor at Bullard and continued the trend of evangelism, growth and outreach begun by Reverend Harper. In 1990, Reverend Matthis received the Eric Anderson Award from the Texas Annual Conference. This award is given to a young pastor demonstrating outstanding leadership and dedication in the area of evangelism. From 1991 until the present, Bullard First United Methodist Church has seen many changes. During this time, the town of Bullard has experienced tremendous growth and almost tripled in size. The surrounding area has also seen dramatic growth resulting in an expanding congregation and the construction of a new sanctuary and Family Life Center. A number of able pastors have served during this time including the Reverends Martin S. Vershel, Fredda Minick , Michael Mayhugh, Paul E. Quiggins, Gary Fitzgerald and Randy Fitzgerald.
Today, The Bullard First United Methodist Church is a fulfilling and dynamic place to worship. Our wonderful pastor, David Brasher, joined us in June of 2011 and under his leadership we expect God to continue to bless us and work through us to Shine the Light of Christ in our Community.