The Atascocita United Methodist Church (AUMC) recently welcomed a new senior pastor, Mike Tyson, as it celebrates its 35th anniversary.

“I am very excited to be here; this is a great church with an excellent history and it’s created a phenomenal legacy in this community. Since I dedicated my life to ministry at the age of 38, I have served at a variety of different churches, most recently at the Texas Annual Conference before taking on this role,” said Tyson.

AUMC had originally planned a celebration for its 35th anniversary which was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tyson expressed optimism about holding such an event under normal circumstances but said that such an event is postponed until the pandemic allows for large gatherings to take place again. “The health and safety of our members and the public comes first,” said Tyson.

Leigh-Anne Williams, pastor of family ministries at AUMC, shared some of the history of the church, which held its first services at Oaks Elementary 35 years ago. Members would go to a storage unit each weekend and carry chairs to the cafeteria at the Oaks to set everything up, over and over. One of the church’s members calculated the amount of time that it took to move the chairs in and out, finding out that they moved enough chairs to fill the Astrodome one-and-a-half times over. Fortunately, such drastic measures have not been required since 1988, when AUMC built its first campus.

The pair shared some of the progress the church has recently made despite the pandemic, as well as updates on the church’s operations.

“We are here for people when they are ready to come back. We have two services on Sunday, which are livestreamed for those who feel more comfortable staying home; but for those who are able and willing to return to in-person services, we have socially distanced services,” said Williams.

She explained the impact that the weekday learning center program has had on the local community. “The weekday learning center has over 200 students in attendance currently. We are proud of the institution and all the lives that they have touched. We have some teachers in the program now that attended the program 20 years ago,” said Williams.

The program is very popular, according to Williams. Parents will camp outside the church the night before registration to claim a spot in the program.

“For the first time this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have a private, accredited Kindergarten class that is doing very well and taking many additional safety precautions compared to public school districts. We are closely following all CDC guidelines, such as using UV light and taking temperatures,” she said.

Williams shared her thoughts on the future of AUMC. She said, “One of our goals is for us to be a place in the community for families with children and youth. We have a lot of opportunities for families to learn about their faith but also for families to be a part of a large support system. Over the last 35 years, we have been blessed by strong members of the community who have a heart for mission, and through them we have been able to do fantastic work. It is our goal to continue this mission and provide a place for families to grow.”

Tyson added, “This church has a long history of deep impact in the community and I would like that impact to be greater in the coming years. We want to help those that need to be helped.”

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