A STORY WORTH SHARING

….and in those days, in Shalimar, Florida, there was a drive-in theater with the name FLORIDA DRIVE-IN. Established in 1950, the drive-in was located on Eglin Parkway, where Old Ferry Road intersects. The drive-in had a 280-car capacity and a concession stand. Ten years earlier, in that little town, way out in the woods, a man named Clifford Meigs built a community of 180 houses that he envisioned would provide housing for officers stationed at nearby Eglin Air Force Base, and perhaps later, for a civilian population. A newspaper article written much later, 1959, quoted Meigs as saying, “I furnished the land; another fellow did the building…it WAS a gamble, though. People said I was crazy to build houses way out there in the woods.”
But those 180 houses stayed rented, even post WWII, and Clifford Meigs became mayor of that little town of Shalimar from 1946-1960. And it came to pass that Rev. John Lane of First Methodist Church in downtown Fort Walton Beach came forth to encourage and help create a little church in Shalimar. Everyone in the area knew where the Florida Drive-In was, and the concession stand there became the gathering place of the start-up church.
It further came to pass that on June 17, 1951, twenty-six Methodists met and held the first worship service in that concession stand. Pastor John Lane led that service along with District Superintendent Dr. A.F. Middlebrooks. Pastor Lane served as pastor of both the new Methodist
church in Shalimar and the established First Methodist Church “downtown” that first year. Member’s Sunday was celebrated at Shalimar the following week, June 24, 1951, with twelve members joining and pledging to support and lift up their new little church. A member of that Charter Members special group was our own Mary Morgan!

….and it all began in a concession stand! We thank God for preparing and placing vision and dedication into the hearts of certain ones to spread His Good News! We thank Him for SUMC and its fellowship of believers who continue to spread the Word so that others may know!

Julie Covert

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