The Gift of Stories


Listen in as Michelle sits down with Tom and Mary V. as they share stories of their life at First Methodist in the 1960s, choosing the stained glass windows for the new Spire Church sanctuary, and the beginning of ministry at Some Other Place in Downtown Beaumont. 

One afternoon in April, I had the opportunity to visit with Tom and Mary V. Engelking to hear stories about the Spire church and the people they have known. They arrived at First Methodist in 1959, the same year as John Wesley Hardt. What a spectacular time to become a part of this church. The planning, building, and moving were all on the horizon. The new pastor and his family became close friends of Tom and Mary V. They spoke of inspiring sermons that captured your attention and kept you focused on the message.

If you have spent much time with Mary V, you know she is full of energy and enthusiasm. Considering her 91 years, I can only imagine the energy she had in 1959. She became chairman of the annual turkey dinner, secretary of the building committee, and the children’s coordinator. Tom at 97 is full of wisdom and the details of a well-lived life. He was chairmen of the committee on Education, children’s Sunday school teacher, and you could find him in the church kitchen every Wednesday night. He helped their good friend Freddie Mae Scott prepare and serve meals for all the members who were attending Wednesday night activities. Freddie Mae meant a lot to the Engelkings, and they were sad to learn that she passed away this year on Tom's birthday.

The years spent as members of the Spire church are full of beautiful memories. Memories of people like Hilliard Henson and Grace Lindsey, good friends who have since passed on. I questioned Tom on what the Spire meant to him after all these years. He told me it symbolizes growth and a continuous presence downtown. It provides a place to take God’s love to the world by starting in the heart of Beaumont.

When you talk with the Engelkings, you can feel the love they have for their church family and the pride they take in the Spire church. You can sense the loss when they speak of friends who have passed away. Their faces beam when they talk about their daughter Beth being one of the first children baptized in the Spire church. They speak with pride about the stained-glass windows and the sensational choir. Charlie Morgan playing the keyboard, Fred Simon's incredible voice, and Silverio and Lindsay singing together have been some of their favorite musical moments.

My time with the Engelkings was a delightful glimpse into the past, and their enthusiasm in the present is contagious. The stories handed down to us are gifts. They are overflowing with the impressive history of a beautiful church filled with faithful disciples, and a legacy of serving Jesus in downtown Beaumont.

By Michelle Holland