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St. Andrew Staff Celebrating 30

CELEBRATING 30 YEARS:

St. Andrew United Methodist Church - Growing Up with Plano

At age 34, Rev. Robert Hasley, an associate pastor at Highland Park United Methodist Church, was asked if he would like to go to Plano to lead a new church, where he continues to lead as senior pastor today 

Special Services and Celebratory Reception Planned for Saturday, Sept. 24 & Sunday, Sept. 25

 

In 1986, a young associate pastor at Highland Park United Methodist Church was given the assignment by the Bishop of the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church to “go north” and lead a new church in a growing suburb called Plano with a population of 107,602. Plano now has a population of 271,166, St. Andrew has a membership of 7,000, and Rev. Hasley is still leading the congregation, serving as senior pastor today.

“As a new pastor with a young family and little experience, I am not sure why I was asked to lead St. Andrew, but I count every day at St. Andrew as a special gift and a blessing. I have literally grown up with this wonderful church family in this dynamic city,” said Rev. Hasley. “When I think back to those early years, we used to joke that traveling up to Plano was the equivalent of heading up to Oklahoma. Now look at it! Collin County is rapidly expanding with an expected population increase from 800,000 today to 1.4 million by 2022. St. Andrew is blessed to be a family of faith multiplying and expanding with this growth, and I am very excited about its future.”

The community is invited to reflect on the past and look forward to the next 30 years at a special Legacy Worship Service, Saturday, September 24, 6 p.m., and Sunday, September 25, 9:30 and 11 a.m. (identical services), all in the sanctuary at St. Andrew, 5801 W. Plano Parkway. Services will be followed by a special reception in Smith Worship Center.

“St. Andrew was founded upon a vision of boldness,” said Rev. Hasley. “As prices of land in the growing North Dallas and Plano area were spiking, it took a coordinated effort by the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church, Highland Park United Methodist Church, and former Dallas Mayor Robert Folsom, who wanted to see a new church begin in this area, to make it happen. Five acres of land were negotiated at the corner of Mira Vista and Plano Parkway – the most expensive property at that time acquired by the North Texas Conference. St. Andrew ultimately purchased an additional 16 acres adjoining the site, creating the present campus of 21.214 acres.”  

It all began on May 1, 1986. Sponsored by Highland Park United Methodist Church and its senior pastor, Dr. Leighton Farrell, which supported St. Andrew financially for its first three years, and Lovers Lane United Methodist Church, which shared its church members list, St. Andrew began its formation with an organizational meeting held that summer at Shepton High School. Meetings were held in homes, and the name of the church was decided: St. Andrew United Methodist, named for the disciple Andrew, who was the first evangelist, introducing Peter to Jesus. The first worship service was held at Shepton High School on September 7, 1986, and was attended by 500 people. By the end of 1986, St. Andrew had 250 members.

On April 8, 1990, the church family marched from Shepton to the building site where a groundbreaking ceremony was held for the first building phase. Former Dallas Mayor Robert S. Folsom and Mr. and Mrs. D. O. Tomlin provided vital leadership and financial support to St. Andrew during the early years.

On May 19, 1991, services began in the sanctuary in the first building, with Rev. Charles Stokes leading the congregational singing.  As membership grew, additional classroom and worship space was needed, and fundraising efforts began to expand the church with the Festival Hall addition. This was dedicated on September 10, 1997, expanding the facilities to 70,000 square feet.

Continuing the legacy of vision begun by Highland Park UMC, St. Andrew responded to the needs of the congregation and community by helping to begin Grace Avenue UMC in Frisco, which held its first service in June 1999.

Entering the new millennium, the church faced another milestone growth. A record-breaking capital campaign allowed for the construction of a new sanctuary, classroom space, parking, and other facilities on property owned by the church across a scenic pond. The sanctuary, which seats 1,600 on three levels, is often utilized by local choral and instrumental ensembles for performances and professional quality recording. The Letourneau pipe organ was hand crafted by the Canadian firm Orgues Letourneau Limitee. It contains 4,335 pipes made from tin, zinc, and wood, and is one of the largest in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

“Known for its mission work in the community, most visibly for Seven Loaves Community, St. Andrew’s first mission work actually began before dirt was ever turned,” added Rev. Hasley. “An apartment ministry in East Plano for latchkey children was begun at the request of Sigler Elementary School Principal and church member Margaret Reynolds. The plan was to give children a safe place under the influence of the church to come after school. The complex rented us the apartment for $1. Today St. Andrew has expanded our missions work beyond what anyone could have imagined in those early days.”

Begun in 2009, Seven Loaves Community, a 501 (c) 3, is a nonprofit agency housed in St. Andrew United Methodist Church. The Food Pantry, the first initiative, serves an average of 550 families a month. The program includes Joseph’s Coat, a clothing closet, which provides an average of 4,000 garments each month; Project Hope, a mentoring program to support women in crisis; and Plus One, providing hygiene products to clients. Additionally, St. Andrew’s 4 Corners Global Outreach operates Clinica Emanuel in the remote southern mountains of Costa Rica, providing medical care to the Cabécar people.

When Hurricane Katrina displaced tens of thousands, St. Andrew answered the call to provide housing, food, clothing, and worship opportunities in Plano for over 250 people. This led to a partnership with Habitat for Humanity and the construction of five homes for families who now make Plano their home.

“Jesus teaches us that each time we help the hungry and reach out to the sick, helping someone in need, we are serving Christ,” said Rev. Hasley. “We thank God for reminding us who we are and giving us hope for the future. If by His grace, we move forward, there are many miracles to be performed. We have to continue to serve in His name.”

In the fall of 2012, St. Andrew added a new worship service in a more contemporary style called The Well, led by Associate Pastor Rev. Arthur Jones. Jones continues to lead all services today.

“Our contemporary services have been very well received with strong attendance each week,” added Rev. Jones. “One reason St. Andrew is successful in what it does is because we understand that we must continue to adapt to the needs of our congregation and our community. By providing different styles of worship experiences, we will continue to reach a broader audience.”

“The gift of God’s grace through Jesus Christ has brought St. Andrew to this point in our history and will lead us into the future,” added Rev. Hasley. “St. Andrew is a church that chooses compassion over condemnation. We choose laughter and joy, and we choose to be there for our children and their children and love them into a relationship with Jesus Christ. Throughout our history, the Lord has blessed us with a congregation of ‘passionate servants of Christ.’  Our passion to serve, upheld by the grace of God, gives me great confidence that we will continue to make a difference for Christ in this community.”

“When the workers began digging to prepare the foundation for our second phase of building in 1996-97, they found solid rock which required much machinery to break through,” added Rev. Charles Stokes. “St. Andrew is literally built upon solid rock, and spiritually that is what we have been built upon these 30 years. When looking at all we have done and all the ministries we have supported over the years, I believe that God calls each of us to be here at the moment and time we are here, giving us the opportunity to play key roles in the growth and development of St. Andrew.”