First Easter worship service at Moody leaves lasting legacy
In the first half of the 20th Century, Highland Park United Methodist Church was growing at a rapid pace. No one was happier about that growth than the Senior Minister at the time, Dr. Marshall Steel.
For years, Dr. Steel had been troubled by the lack of worship space in the increasingly crowded Sanctuary, so in 1955 he went to the Board of Stewards to request a new building program. Part of the desire for a bigger sanctuary stemmed from Dr. Steel’s wish to see the entire congregation worshiping together under one roof.
His dream came true in 1957, when Southern Methodist University agreed to open their new field house, Moody Coliseum, to HPUMC. That would be the first year the church held services on Easter Sunday at Moody.
The move was initially meant to be a temporary measure, until the larger sanctuary could be built. But as 10,000 members and visitors filled the coliseum on Easter, Dr. Steel was amazed. To him, the service was an opportunity to demonstrate the mighty congregation that Highland Park United Methodist had become.
The service certainly was a mighty feat for the hundreds of staff and volunteers who helped put it on, from the 300 choir members, to the 200 ushers who guided worshipers to their seats. The whole event was such a success, the tradition of celebrating Easter at Moody Coliseum continued intermittently throughout the years.
“It’s good every now and then to have everybody together under one roof so people can appreciate the scope of our ministry,” says HPUMC’s Senior Minister Paul Rasmussen.
"As we kick off our Centennial year, I want everyone to see the extraordinary ways God has blessed this church with is multiple styles of worship."
Now, 58 years later, Moody will once again play host to the entire congregation of Highland Park United Methodist Church, only this time it will be to celebrate the church’s 100th birthday.
“Given our ties to SMU and also given the size of our congregation, Moody is really the only natural place for us to have such a grand celebration,” says Kent Roberts, HPUMC Archivist.
Category: Multiple Styles of Worship, Church History
The One Big Worship service at the end of February will serve as a milestone for Highland Park United Methodist Church. At Moody Coliseum, worshipers from Cornerstone, Sanctuary, Kerygma, Munger Place, The Chapel, and The Upper Room will all come together as one body in celebration of the church’s rich heritage.
The service will be held on Sunday, February 22, starting at 10:00 am.