For 120 years the sanctuaries of what is now called Polk Street United Methodist Church have served as beacons of worship in the Amarillo community and around the world… Following the organization of the small Methodist congregation in November 1888, a 30 by 50-foot frame building was completed at 701 Jackson Street by July the next year. This first protestant sanctuary in the frontier village, often called Parker’s Chapel named after local lumberyard operator and Methodist G. A. F. Parker, was looked upon as a Union Church by residents of various denominational backgrounds. It was at that site that Amarillo’s First Baptist Church, First Christian Church, and what became the First Presbyterian Church evolved.
After thirteen years in the frame building, the Methodist congregation in 1902 accepted the gift from its pastor, Reverend J. A. Whitehurst, of a lot at 802 Polk Street on which to erect a new church in a more active center in the town. Upon its completion, this first Methodist building on Polk Street was also a frame structure and by being painted white became known as “the white church.” Its steeple served as a beacon of worship that was viewed over the community and also seen for miles around by those riding across the flatland prairie as they approached the town.
Within five years of its erection “the white church” was too small. As the town’s population grew so did participation at the church. This congregation that included a Sunday School membership of 104 in 1903 had 350 church members in 1906. Consequently, Reverend C. N. N. Ferguson who purchased the lot at 800 Polk convinced the congregation to build a larger and more modern church. Following the removal of “the white church,” a beautiful brick building that included a semi-circular auditorium, a balcony, a choir loft and pipe organ, as well as a basement, was opened in the fall of 1907. As with the previous edifice, a tall steeple served as a beacon that reminded residents near and far that the new sanctuary on Polk Street was there to welcome those seeking to worship and engage in Christian fellowship. Within a year after the construction, it received the name of Polk Street Methodist Church when Buchanan Street and Tenth Avenue Methodist congregations were organized.
For twenty-one years the church at 800 Polk Street served as the major center for Methodists in Amarillo. However, as church membership approached 2,000 in the mid-1920’s, recognition of the necessity for expansion grew. Beginning with the acquisition of lots at 1401 South Polk and then the groundbreaking for the site in December 1926, the new church building of modified Gothic design that consisted of a sanctuary and educational building was formally opened on February 26, 1928.
For eighty years this magnificent structure has served numerous generations as a center for the worship of God through Jesus Christ. Just as the frame building of Parker’s Chapel on Jackson Street and the steeples of the churches in the 800 block of Polk Street, the towers of the church continue to serve as beacons of the love of God through Jesus Christ that have radiated throughout the Amarillo community and into all areas of the world.